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The Hearst Estate: A closer look at L.A’s hottest luxury property

By Michael Atkinson  |  August 22, 2021
Hearst Estate exterior
Image Credit: Berlyn Media

Featuring an Art Deco nightclub, cinema room, five-bedroom gatehouse, tennis court and Olympic sized swimming pool, 1011 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, is one of the hottest properties on the market right now. It will set you back $70m to acquire it, but not only will you be purchasing a stunning and extraordinary property, you’ll be buying up one of the most iconic and legendary homes of America.

The spectacular property is otherwise known as the Hearst Estate. Sitting at the end of one of the city’s longest private driveways in 3.5 acres of grounds, it is named after the famed American newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst became one of the world’s most famous and influential media magnates. Having spent some time studying at Harvard, Hearst entered the publishing industry after inheriting control of the San Francisco Examiner from his father, Senator George Hearst, a wealthy American who had made most of his money from mining interests.

Hearst estate living room
The formal living room boasts a 22 foot arched hand-painted ceiling. Image credit: Jim Bartsch

The young Hearst would go on to buy the New York Journal shortly after he took control of the San Francisco Examiner, stretching his influence from one coast to the other. He continued on from there, acquiring title after title. He produced a certain style of paper, focusing on sensationalist headlines. At the peak of his career, he had around 30 newspapers in American cities and expanded into magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world. 

Hearst also followed his father into politics and was twice elected as a Democrat in the US House of Representatives. He ran for President in 1904, Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909 and for Governor of New York in 1906, but failed on each occasion. 

Hearst married Millicent Willson in 1903 and they had five children. The couple would become estranged after Hearst began a relationship with the actress, Marion Davies. Hearst went on to finance and promote her career via his collection of newspapers and founded Cosmopolitan Pictures to produce her films. Davies would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most famed box office stars of the era.

hearst estate pool
The Hearst Estate sits in 3.5 acres of lush grounds. Image credit: Jim Bartsch

In 1919, Hearst began to build a property, constructed on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hearst had inherited 40,000 acres of ranchland which his father had acquired in 1865 and after taking ownership in 1919, Hearst purchased additional land culminating in an eventual 250,00 acres. He employed architect Julia Morgan to develop a retreat in this San Simeon setting.

By 1947, the estate was still incomplete, but an extraordinary home had been created with 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. Hearst would house an enviable art collection here, his magnificent and decadent hilltop ranch named ‘La Cuesta Encantada’, meaning ‘The Enchanted Hill’. As a young child growing up, Hearst had the benefit of travelling widely, especially in Europe, and much of what is now known as ‘Hearst Castle’, is inspired by the architecture and grandeur of historic buildings that he saw during these trips.

Hearst accumulated an extraordinary art collection during his lifetime, a collection which included American and European Old Master paintings and sculptures, tapestries, oriental rugs, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, silver and rare furniture. Much of this was placed and on display in Hearst Castle, although the collection was spread throughout his additional properties and much was also housed in warehouses which he had on both the east and west coasts.

hearst estate hall
Hearst’s stunning art collection was displayed throughout his properties. Image credit: Jim Bartsch

During construction of Hearst Castle, it was used as his primary residence and Hearst, alongside his now main companion, Davies, entertained extensively at the castle and visitors are said to have included British wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, famed literary figures such as George Bernard Shaw and entertainment industry titans such as Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Jack Warner.

Hearst Castle is now a celebrated national property in California and welcomes visitors from across the globe to take a glimpse into the world of one of the most influential Americans of his time. The famed and stunning property, a remarkable creation, is now a State Historical Monument and designated a National Historic Landmark.

As his health declined, Hearst would move and ‘downsize’ from his castle, spending time at the Hearst Estate, a more modest property in comparison, but a property which today remains one of the most striking properties available in Los Angeles and providing a rare opportunity to own a piece of American media history.

hearst estate fountain
Terraces, waterfalls and sculptures add to the opulent feel of the gardens. Image credit: Berlyn Media

The grand and striking pink mansion, for sale with agents including Hilton and Hyland, has featured in films including The Godfather and the late Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard.

Gary Gold, executive vice president of Hilton and Hyland, describes the property as ‘one of the ten most iconic homes built in the 1920s and 30s here in Los Angeles and arguably the best’. The main house, a Spanish colonial revival home, was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann and built in 1926 for the banking executive Milton Getz. Kaufmann had worked on a variety of architectural projects, including the Hoover Dam.

Gold compares the Hearst Estate alongside properties such as The Playboy Mansion, in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, close to Beverly Hills, made famous by Hugh Hefner and his lavish parties, and the Greystone Manor, an estate which was completed in 1928, a gift from oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny to his son. Greystone Manor was purchased by the City of Beverly Hills in 1965 to avoid its proposed demolition and became a city park in 1971. The Tudor style residence, set within sixteen acres of grounds, was also designed by Kaufmann and, at the time of its completion, was the most expensive home ever built in California.

hearst estate library
The two storey wood panelled library. Image credit: Berlyn Media

The magnificent and opulent Hearst Estate is reached via a grand 800 foot driveway, passing the estate’s gatehouse, itself a two-storey five bedroom property.

Elements of Hearst Castle can be seen at the Hearst Estate. The stunning billiards room, as an example, features a fireplace originally from the castle. The snooker table in this room dates from 1868 and was one of the original ones built by Brunswick, one of America’s great historic companies, founded in 1845 and famous for producing billiards tables of the finest quality.

The main 30,000 square foot home at the Hearst Estate provides plenty of space to have guests to stay and for entertaining, something which Hearst and Davies did extensively, throwing lavish parties for the great and good of American politics, the arts and Hollywood stars. Indeed a sense of extraordinary space is a main feature of this property. As Gold says, “Wasted space is what makes a home special. These hallways that are 100 feet long are like nothing I have ever seen in any home.”

The main property has eight bedrooms and fifteen bathrooms to house guests and family overnight. The formal rooms within the property and the hallways are mesmerizingly beautiful, displaying craftsmanship of the highest quality through intricate marble, wood and stone carvings, as well as hand painted ceilings. Pillars, fireplaces, ceilings and walls take your breath away having been painstakingly designed with the most remarkable detailing.

hearst estate bar
The Art Deco style bar and nightclub. Image credit: Berlyn Media

There is a formal living room set under a 22 foot arched hand-painted ceiling and a historic two-storey wood panelled library. Indeed, the library is one of the most exquisite rooms in the property, a hand carved wood panelled room reminiscent of historic libraries such as those within the Bodleian Libraries of Oxford University.

The house also contains an Art-Deco bar and nightclub, the doors, etched glass and bar all coming from Hugh Hefner’s famous Los Angeles members’ club, ‘Touch’. The house and its grounds can easily accommodate 1,000 guests. The main home is supplemented with two staff and guest apartments, a pool house, tennis pavilion and the gatehouse.

The private 3.5 acres of grounds, designed by Paul Thiene, the celebrated landscape architect who also worked on the Greystone Manor, having created its 80-foot waterfall, match the house in style and sophistication. The gardens are awash with sun-drenched terraces, immaculately manicured lawns, waterfalls, Roman pillars, sculptures, beautiful trees, plants and flowers. Two large pools of water spill into the Olympic sized swimming pool.

hearst estate gardens
Two large pools of water spill into the Olympic sized swimming pool. Image credit: Jim Bartsch

The beauty of this home, its privacy and seclusion, despite being just three blocks north of Sunset Boulevard, led to it becoming the honeymoon home of Jacqueline and John F Kennedy in 1953.

On sale at $70m, you may consider the price tag a bargain – the original asking price has dropped from $195m to $165m to $125m, before the recent placement at $70m.

The Hearst Estate must be seen to be believed. It’s a truly exquisite architectural masterpiece of opulent design. The attention to detail throughout the property, the space, its size, its gardens, the grandeur – it is all quite spectacular. A rare opportunity to acquire one of the most glamorous and historic homes in Los Angeles.