Horror film maestro, British director James Whale, produced some of his best fear festivals during his time living in this Mediterranean palace high in the Hollywood hills. Everything from the cult classic Frankenstein in 1931, at The invisible Man in 1933, at Bride of Frankenstein in 1935.
Whale had bought the house, named Villa Sophia, from Clement E. Smoot, the Olympic gold medalist golfer. Smoot commissioned the hilltop home, with its panoramic views of neighboring 4,200-acre Griffiths Park, from legendary LA architect Henry Harwood Hewitt.
Fast forward to the late 1990s, and successful options trader Constantine Vlahos – Tim to his friends – had spent nearly two years gazing at the iconic villa from his home in nearby Echo Park.
“I fantasized about the house before I even entered it. I have always been a fan of Italian architecture and loved the place. It was like a piece of Tuscany right here in LA, ”said Mr. Vlahos Robb Report.
When it hit the market in 2000, it grabbed it and paid $ 1.05 million, according to Zillow. “He was in terrible shape. No one really took care of it. It was just awful inside.
What he had was the location. Situated at the end of a cul-de-sac in the hills of the celebrity-rich Los Feliz enclave, the house offered a million-dollar view of Griffith Park and its iconic observatory to one side, and the downtown LA on the other.
After moving in, Mr. Vlahos, 58, spent two long years developing a grand plan to transform Villa Sophia. His biggest challenge? Excavating the steep hill to create a level area to install a swimming pool, expansive decks, and a separate 750 square foot guesthouse with a gorgeous gazebo above.
“We ended up having to build a 15-foot-deep retaining wall with casons that went down 30 feet to bedrock. And with no space to bring heavy equipment, everything had to be dug out by hand. It ended up being a $ 2 million wall.
For the nearly 3,000 square feet of terraces, Mr. Vlahos imported reclaimed terracotta tiles from Italy, France and Spain. That ornamental railing around the pool deck? It took two artisans over a year to hand mold it on site.
“The result is an extraordinary property in the most exceptional location, with true Old Hollywood pedigree,” says broker Rick Yohon, of Sotheby’s International Realty, who owns the coveted ad. “And, at $ 5.77 million in this overheated market, its price is attractive.”
If the house looks vaguely familiar, it may be because of Mr. Vlahos’ astute marketing to film and TV studios to use the villa as an Italian-style backdrop.
The latest episode of HBO Entourage in 2011 shows Jeremy Piven’s character Ari and his wife on the pool deck of their glamorous Italian villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Only it was filmed at Villa Sophia with the sea added digitally.
This film directed for television by Lindsay Lohan in 2012 Liz & Dick, profiling the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, also used the house as a setting. Then there was the episode of The bachelorette, another for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and photo shoots for Vogue, It, GQ and Victoria’s Secret.
In its current form, the four-story home spans 4,525 square feet and includes three bedrooms and two and a half baths in the main house, as well as a separate one-bed guest suite by the pool. .
The first floor of the main house has a connected living and dining room, each with patio doors leading out to huge terraces. The chef’s kitchen is made up of high-end professional-grade appliances, rustic stone sinks and arched doors.
Stairs lead up to the master bedroom level, with its elegant master suite with windows on three sides and two further bedrooms in a long hallway. Continuing the steps, you arrive in a comfortable office on the roof.
Perhaps the best “room” in the house is this outdoor loggia, with its antique chandeliers, rustic wooden beams and breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles (see photo above).
“I will be sad to see it disappear,” says Vlahos. “I have lived here for 20 years and I have put my heart and soul into renovating it. But it’s time to let someone else enjoy it. I think I have another project in me.
Check out more photos of Villa Sophia below: