The legendary Beverly Hills home built by Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner has just been put on the market for $40 million. The stately mansion recently played a prominent role as O.J. Simpson's home in the Emmy-winning series "The People v. O.J. Simpson."
Its recent star turn aside, the acre-plus property became legendary even before it was built in 1923. Warner hired a young Paul Williams, the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects, to design the elegant home, mixing French Country architecture with Tudor elements.
Williams went on to become one of the most sought-after architects of the day in Los Angeles, designing homes for celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Lon Chaney, and Barbara Stanwyck.
Warner's American dream lives on
Warner, who was Jewish, felt it was important to make a statement about inclusiveness. The current homeowner -- philanthropist, real estate developer, and filmmaker Daphna Ziman -- feels the same way. Ziman, who bought the home in 1996, has hosted fundraisers for international children's funds, education, and cultural restoration.
The Israeli-born Ziman has also held political fundraisers for Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore. More recently she's been hosting events promoting bipartisan efforts for better government. Ziman estimates she's hosted more than 80,000 people in the home.
"When I was a child of 6, my grandfather gave me a little Statue of Liberty replica and told me to go to America, the land of immigrants and opportunity," Ziman recalls. She moved to the U.S. in the early '80s, and has been "living the American dream" ever since. Her time as owner of the Warner mansion epitomizes that dream.
But she feels a stewardship, rather than ownership, of the eight-bedroom, 11-bathroom, 12,254-square-foot estate she so painstakingly restored. "My feeling has always been that if you're blessed and have been given so much, that much is expected of you," she says. "I love to share my home for philanthropic causes and to make positive change in the world."
Fabulous features of the manion
Among the home's more entertaining amenities are a sizable guesthouse formerly inhabited by Marilyn Monroe, a European garden, a pool and spa, waterfalls, a tennis court, an exquisite koi pond, and a children's park with a "tumbleweed cottage."
There's also a state-of-the-art entertainment room, including a discreet drop-down screen and projection system, custom leather seating inspired by the chairs at the Warner Bros. Studios, an indoor-outdoor bar made of Jerusalem stone, and etched-glass windows.
The kitchen features hand-hewn beams, granite and hand-painted tiles, and high-end appliances including a Wolf stove, Dacor oven, and Sub-Zero refrigerator.
Upstairs there are four en suite bedrooms and a lavish master suite with vaulted and beamed ceilings, his-and her bathrooms, refreshment area, fireplace, and wraparound terrace. There's also an in-law apartment with its own living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bath.
Restoring this home to its original Hollywood glory was such a satisfying endeavor that Ziman has taken on similar projects, including the restoration Tony Curtis' former home and a West Hollywood duplex that Carole Lombard and Clark Gable once lived in.
"I like to restore properties to their original Hollywood glamour," she says. "It's a shame that so many developers come in and tear down these wonderful homes, and instead put up big white boxes."
What's next for the mansion?
Ziman hopes the buyer of the Warner estate will share her love and respect for the mansion's history. "It's going to be so hard to leave this place behind. I swim in the pool every day," she says. But her children are now grown, and she's committed to spending her time on other ventures.
But she doesn't intend to leave her home restoration career behind as Joyce Rey and Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Previews International market the Warner Mansion. "I've already found another well-known estate that I might buy and restore," Ziman says. She promises to keep us posted.