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In Holmby Hills, a former gathering spot for Hollywood elite seeks $79 million

In Holmby Hills, a former gathering spot for Hollywood elite seeks $79 million
Investor Gary L. Wilson has listed his Gordon Kaufmann-designed home in Holmby Hills for $79 million. (Nick Springett)

Gary L. Wilson, an investor and former chairman of Northwest Airlines, has put his home in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles on the market for $79 million.

Like many of the trophy homes that surround it, the estate has a history that traces back through Old Hollywood.

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The Georgian Colonial was briefly owned in the 1940s by millionaire industrialist Reelse Llewellyn Milner and his wife, actress-dancer Ann Miller. The couple divorced after a year of marriage, and the property was sold to Universal-International Pictures President William Goetz and his wife, Edie Mayer Goetz, the daughter of filmmaker Louis B. Mayer.

The Georgian Colonial mansion, designed by Gordon Kaufmann and built in 1938, sits on more than four park-like acres in Holmby Hills.
The Georgian Colonial mansion, designed by Gordon Kaufmann and built in 1938, sits on more than four park-like acres in Holmby Hills. (Nick Springett)

It was during the Goetzes' ownership that the residence became a gathering spot of the celebrity and business elite. The couple's legendary dinner parties often drew such stars as David Niven, Loretta Young, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland and Cary Grant.

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"The highest accolade for someone coming into this town was to be invited to the Goetzes. The Goetzes had the best food, the best people and the best things on the walls," Hollywood director Billy Wilder once said.

Named the Eugene and Wynne Smith Residence for its original owners, the mansion was designed by noted architect Gordon Kaufmann and built in 1938.

The home represents a change from "the California style that had been a hallmark" of the architect's work over the previous decade, according to the book "Gordon B. Kaufmann: Master Architects of Southern California." Kaufmann's other designs include Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas' former Italian Revival manse, the Los Angeles Times building and the Hoover Dam.

The main house, trimmed in lacy wrought ironwork, has verandas extending from each level that overlook one of two swimming pools on the property. Three guest houses, a tennis court and a grove of Mediterranean palms, Arizona cypresses and Japanese maples also lie within more than four acres of grounds.

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Roughly 20,000 square feet of interiors include grand formal spaces, a screening room, 11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. An Art Deco-inspired library by early Hollywood designer Billy Haines features a wet bar.

Wilson acquired the property from the Goetz estate in 1990, property records show. A neighboring home was later purchased and combined with the estate.

Jeff Hyland and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, and Aaron Kirman of John Aaroe Group hold the listing.

Twitter: @NJLeitereg

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