A musical barber would blend in here

Times Staff Writer

Johnny Depp has been busier than any pirate in the Caribbean, and that could be why the downtown L.A. loft he bought in the fall for close to $2 million is still vacant.

Depp bought a penthouse in the Eastern Columbia Building, an Art Deco landmark on South Broadway. The 13-story building, opened in 1930 as a retail and office tower and later used as a department store and movie backdrop, was converted into 147 residential lofts in 2006.

Since then, all except a half a dozen lofts on the penthouse level have been sold. Prices run from the high $600,000 range to $2.2 million.

Besides Depp, entertainment industry buyers have included comedian Ant and Slade Smiley, a heartthrob who was on the TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Other buyers are architecture enthusiasts. Buyers in the Moderne, turquoise terra-cotta-clad building qualify for historic tax credits, or reduced property taxes, through the Mills Act.

It’s not too late to become one of Depp’s neighbors. There is a furnished corner unit in the building listed at about $1.8 million. It’s on the 12th floor and is described as light-filled with an open floor plan and high ceilings. The unit has a bronze and iron entry gate, storage for 112 bottles of wine, flat-screen TVs, a jukebox, a vintage-style safe and city views. The 1,827-square-foot loft was decorated by designer Jim Hughes.


Kelly Wearstler, a celebrity designer, decorated the building’s common areas such as the rooftop pool, spa and gym. The building also has a distinctive clock tower and a concierge.

Depp, who has played more than 40 unique roles on film, is as busy as ever, now starring as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street for the film adaptation of the musical “Sweeney Todd,” released a few weeks ago. The 44-year-old actor starred as Capt. Jack Sparrow in “The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), “The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) and “The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2007). In 2005, he was cast as Willie Wonka, a magical candy maker, in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.”

David Kean, at Prudential California Realty in Beverly Hills, has the listing on the furnished loft.

An elevator, just like at City Hall

Alfred Villalobos, a former deputy mayor to Mayor Richard Riordan, has listed his compound in a Woodland Hills gated community at $3.6 million.

The estate includes a house with more than 10,000 square feet and five bedrooms, 9 1/2 bathrooms, an elevator, four fireplaces, three wet bars and a 1,500-bottle wine cellar. Other rooms are an office with four built-in desks; a library, a multipurpose room, a gym and a game room. A detached guesthouse overlooks a pool, spa and three waterfalls.

Villalobos was five months into his job as chief deputy in charge of economic development in 1993 when he resigned, to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, he said at the time. He was the second of five deputy mayors to leave the Riordan administration.

Jill Alpert and Joan Weitzner of Ewing & Associates, Sotheby’s International Realty in Calabasas, have the listing.

‘Compound’ may be understating it

Irvin Willat, a silent-film director, owned a sheep ranch in West Hollywood that became an estate where he entertained Hollywood luminaries. On the A-list for invitations were Marlene Dietrich, Harry Houdini and Howard Hughes.

Now a portion of the property, which has been in the Willat family for 100 years, is on the market. There is no asking price yet, but its expected value is about $30 million.

For that, a buyer will get a family compound or corporate retreat designed in 2002 by seller Boyd Willat to look like old-world Spanish architecture. There are 20 detached houses, ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet in size, with a total of 31 bedrooms, 52 bathrooms and 20 privately accessed home offices, plus four courtyards. The compound sits on less than an acre.

Nichole Fox is the account supervisor at Brower, Miller & Cole in Irvine.

$20 million, and that’s no joke

Among noteworthy sales last year in Santa Barbara was a home owned for slightly more than a year by Ellen DeGeneres. The Emmy-winning TV talk-show host sold the 4-acre property, near Oprah Winfrey’s in Montecito, for about $20 million.

The home, built in 1926 and refurbished by DeGeneres, has a four-bedroom, Spanish colonial-style main house; a detached guest cottage; a wine cellar; a pool; and a tennis court.

Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty in Santa Barbara had the listing.

Perkins sold two adjacent ranches last spring for a total of $155 million. Bixby Ranch Co. had owned the properties and their nine miles of beach since the early 1900s. The buyer was a hedge-fund expert from Boston.

Excess in Vegas? Surely you jest

Think Las Vegas sales and listings are in the tank?

Jim Bickford of Prudential Americana Group Realtors-Shapiro & Sher, in Las Vegas, reported these double-digit listings: There is a 9.86-acre estate on the market at $21 million, a 19th-floor penthouse for sale at $20 million and an enclave listed at $14 million.

As for sales, a golf-course estate went recently for $17 million, and a compound sold for $14 million.

To see previous columns on celebrity realty transactions, go to