“I don’t. Follow. Football.”
About this, real estate investor and NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein — who jets around the country to attend more than 100 basketball games a year, typically in courtside seats — is clear. Football is not his thing.
Nonetheless, Goldstein — a notorious octogenarian playboy with a flair for cowboy-glam rock fashion — has lent his home, just above Beverly Hills, for a Super Bowl watch party this game day. He lives in one of L.A.’s most iconic modernist houses, the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein Residence, completed in 1963. The Space Age-y glass and concrete structure has appeared in myriad Hollywood productions, including “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “The Big Lebowski.” (Remember the Dude’s visit to porn producer Jackie Treehorn? That house.)
But as the Ubers and Lyfts pull up to the hillside home and the professional athletes, actors, Instagram influencers and others fill up the tented tennis court just minutes before kickoff Sunday, Goldstein is nowhere to be found. He’s sleeping, apparently, having partied a little too late the night before.
“I don’t watch football games,” he said in an earlier phone interview. “Just basketball.” So why the party?
Goldstein is not hosting the soirée. Talent Resources Sports, a marketing firm, has been using his home for a series of Super Bowl week events. The house is often used for events, including about 200 magazine shoots a year. Tonight’s party is for “L.A. insiders” and friends of the agency. It’s an opportunity to connect brands with celebrities, athletes and social media stars, co-Chief Executive and founder David Spencer says, standing outside by the entrance to the house. Behind him, arriving guests pose for pictures against a C4 Energy drink-branded backdrop.
As if on cue, four young women march across the paved driveway, single file, their long, straight hair flowing synchronously behind them. They stare straight down at their phones, their faces stoic but their thumbs jabbing swiftly at their keyboards. It’s the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” cover, with Gen Z Instagram influencers.
There’s a staggering combined number of Instagram followers here today, one PR representative says. You can practically hear the internet crackling with social media activity, a baseline to the festive, pregame noise emanating from the 20-foot-wide television inside the tent.
Speaking of which: There are Italian food buffets, catered by Buca di Beppo, inside both the tent and the nightclub below it (“Club James,” which Goldstein built) — DJ platform, dance floor, VIP room and all. Goldstein won’t touch the food at Lakers and Clippers home games, he says — he eats beforehand and dines out afterward. The menu today: chicken Parmesan, meatballs, a variety of salads and, of course, chicken wings, among other items.
One guest, former NFL running back Rashad Jennings, most recently of the New York Giants — and a 2017 “Dancing With the Stars” champion — piles chopped antipasto onto a plate. It’s a good day, he says, despite feeling torn about who might win. “My fandom is pulling for Cincinnati, my heart is pulling for the Rams,” he says. “Basically, I’m cheering for whoever is on offense.”
Like Jennings, the NBA’s Leandro Barbosa is playing it neutral today. The former Golden State Warriors shooting guard, now a player-mentor coach for the team, is in town for a game against the Clippers on Monday night. “I just wanna watch a good game,” he says of the Super Bowl. “I have no favorites.”
Miss USA 2021, Elle Smith, however, does have a favorite — and it’s decidedly the Bengals. She’s wearing a Joe Burrow T-shirt. Risky move at an L.A. party? Maybe. But it’s the safer bet, she says. “I just moved to L.A. and thought people would judge me for jumping on the Rams bandwagon so soon,” she says.
The party at kickoff is surprisingly mellow. Maybe it’s the open, retractable glass walls in the nightclub and all that sky and fresh air; or the sweeping views of the city below? It’s so clear you can see across to Catalina Island. Whatever the reason, guests huddle on swanky white leather couches and mutter quietly as the game gets underway.
Goldstein, a passionate architecture fan, has been obsessively improving and expanding his house since purchasing it in 1972 — he worked closely with Lautner until the architect’s death in 1994 and collaborated with a Lautner protégé, Duncan Nicholson, on subsequent projects. He estimates he’s spent “somewhere around $25 million” on the house to date. (Next up: He’s building a screening room for about 20 people.)
That said, the multimillionaire and mobile home park mogul is known for hiking rents and suing cities, such as Palm Springs and Carson, when they’ve interfered with his attempts to abolish rent control. And he famously tore down the house next door to his — also a Lautner building — to make room for his tennis court, nightclub and the newest addition, a terrace below.
“But I had John Lautner’s enthused permission to do it,” he says. “He wasn’t particularly proud of that house, and moreover, he wanted the property to be one big estate.”
The new terrace, completed within the last six months, is Goldstein’s single favorite part of the house — it features a narrow, single lane lap pool, tonight glowing the colors of the rainbow. Ryan Phillippe is holding court there, chatting with a handful of women, including Brazilian actress Isis Valverde.
Who is Phillippe rooting for? “The underdog,” the Delaware-bred actor says. “If you grew up lower-middle class, like I did, you always root for the underdog.”
Later, when Joe Burrow limps to the sidelines after a knee injury in the fourth quarter, Phillippe appears visibly concerned. “I hope he isn’t hurt, man,” Phillippe says. “I have a soft spot for Joe Burrow, because my son [with ex-wife Reese Witherspoon], Deacon, looks like him.”
Valverde, who’s in town for a Harper’s Bazaar Brazil magazine shoot, has more than 27 million Instagram followers — and it soon becomes clear that the influencers at this party are primarily influencing other influencers.
“Oh, my God, she’s the prettiest woman I’ve ever seen, and so sweet,” Genevieve Shawcross says of Valverde, showing me a selfie she just took of the two of them. Shawcross appeared on the reality TV show “Love Island” but now makes her living as an influencer— she flew in from Miami for the Super Bowl parties.
And before you know it — halftime. But even as hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar take the SoFi Stadium stage in Inglewood, the crowd at the home’s resident Club James — where Goldstein threw a surprise birthday party for Rihanna in 2015 — remains fairly low-key. When Dr. Dre comes on, blue laser lights swirl around the room. But except for some head nodding and modest hip swiveling, it’s relatively tame; no dancing yet. Instead, a large portion of the crowd watches the show through their phones, photographing or videoing the TV screen, or taking pictures of others taking pictures of the screen.
By fourth quarter, Goldstein appears. He’s wearing a sequined jacket with sparkly pink flamingos on it, a white cowboy hat and a pink silk kerchief around his neck. He is very deeply tanned.
Where was he?
“The beach,” Goldstein says, deadpan, as if it’s a no-brainer.
“But there are 200 people in your house, and you’ve missed most of the game,” I say.
“I wouldn’t mind missing the whole thing,” he says, surveying the room, his eyes landing on a slender young women clad in a white, open-back dress.
Having never married and with no children, Goldstein has bequeathed his house and a custom-built James Turrell “Skyspace” installation on the property to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; he’s also gifted the museum a $17-million endowment for the home’s eventual care and maintenance.
The house and the Turrell installation are off limits to party guests tonight. But a tour is offered to The Times.
We trek though the house — past the koi pond and that famous living room, with its angular concrete ceiling and elongated orange leather couches; past Lautner’s cardboard model of his modernist masterpiece; past shelves of framed photos of Goldstein — with Bill Clinton, with Selena Gomez, with Cindy Crawford, with Snoop Dogg, who’s DJ’d parties at the house. Pamela Anderson is there too, but in a solo shot, a full frontal nude of the “Baywatch” actress emerging from Goldstein’s pool.
Then it’s down a dozen or so stairs that zig-zag down the steep hillside and through a dense forest of leafy palms, wild-looking grasses and towering bamboo — Goldstein had much of the foliage imported from South America. When we arrive at the Skyspace, a concrete and steel structure, portals open to the sky. It’s stark white inside, and it soon fills with multicolored LED lights and spacey-sounding music. As I lie back on a built-in cushion, the patches of visible sky begin to turn colors — from black to inky blue to dark green. It’s a welcome respite from the party, meditative and cleansing.
We emerge with no selfies whatsoever.
Back at the nightclub, game tension is brewing. The room is now full, and the score is 16-20, favoring the Bengals. Then, with one minute and 25 seconds left in the game, the Rams’ Cooper Kupp scores a winning touchdown and the room erupts in applause — it finally it feels like a true Super Bowl party.
The lasers begin to swirl again and guests flow onto the dance floor.
Even Goldstein appears in good spirits, now munching on a sausage sandwich.
Is he excited that the Rams will take home the trophy?
He shrugs exaggeratedly, then gives a piercing side-eye to this reporter.
“I guess it’s good for L.A.,” he says. The music suddenly kicks up — there’s now a live DJ — and fireworks go off on-screen.
The Rams’ victory is nearly palpable. This crowd is a happy one, even if Goldstein is not.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.