Marilyn Monroe, aided by a tight group of confidantes, set out in 1961 to find a home of her own in the Los Angeles area, and eventually landed on a modest but secluded Hacienda with white stucco walls and a red tile roof in Brentwood.
Tucked beyond a cul-de-sac and behind a walled and gated entry on 5th Helena Drive, the property, built in 1929, offered the star refuge from the spotlight. Monroe—by some accounts worth more than $30 million—agreed to pay less than $80,000 for the 2,624-square-foot house in 1961 and moved in with her long-time maid Eunice, according to a biography by Donald Spoto.
This home, the only one Monroe ever owned and where she died months after the purchase, hit the market on Friday with brokerage Mercer Vine, priced at $6.9 million and barely modified since the star lived there, despite changing hands half-a-dozen times, according to property records.
“There’s this wall and gate and trees and this beauty… You feel like it’s an oasis,” said listing agent Lisa Optican of Mercer Vine. “That’s really what I think attracted to her to the property and that still exists today.”
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The troubled beauty appeared at peace in a 1962 interview and photoshoot with Time magazine in her new house, though Twentieth Century-Fox had fired her weeks before from the film “Something’s Got to Give.”
“Anybody who likes my house, I am sure I will get along with,” she said during the interview with Life Associate Editor Richard Meryman. In a photoshoot for the story, she lounged on an ornately carved green velvet chair and basked in the sunlight coming through one of many casement windows.
The house inspired the actress to decorate with Mexican furniture in keeping with the architectural style, and she took a special trip south of the border to search the roadside and factories for the right things to put in it, Meryman wrote in 1962.
“As she led me through the rooms, bare and makeshift as though someone lived there only temporarily, she described with loving excitement each couch and table and dresser, where it would go and what was special about it,” he recounted.
She would never see the larger items she bought in Mexico arrive, the home only half furnished when she was found dead face down and naked in her bed from an apparent overdose on Aug. 5, 1962.
Her doctor, called to the house in the middle of the night by Monroe’s anxious maid, banged on the dark wooden door to her bedroom to no avail, and eventually used a fireplace poker to break through a window into her disheveled bedroom. The doctor found her with the telephone receiver clutched in her hand and an empty bottle of sleeping pills next to the bed, according to an article published in The Los Angeles Times the day after her death.
The house and many of the furnishings sold to a family from Los Angeles a year later, according to a biography of the star.
In total, the property has changed hands seven times since Monroe’s death, though her short residence and tragic end still define the house. Most of the residents have been private people, including the current owner, who bought the home in 2012 for $5.1 million, according to property records.
The only exceptions were actress and model Veronica Hamel, who lived there in the 1970s, and director Michael Ritchie, who bought the house for $995,000 in 1994 and triggered brief news that it might be torn down. It never was, and remains largely the same as when Monroe owned it.
A kidney-shaped pool sits in the lushly planted backyard, which hosts a brick-paved courtyard, a line of citrus trees and a separate guest house.
The main house has retained many of the details Monroe selected and offers the same privacy and tranquility that attracted the star, Optican said.
The living room has terracotta floors, lancet arch doorways and original wood-beamed ceilings. The ceilings continues into a kitchen, with a skylight over the center island, images of the home show.
A blue-tiled fireplace present in photos from Monroe’s time is still the centerpiece of the living room, though her 1960s carpeting was replaced with tile floors.
“When you walk the house and grounds, you’re immediately struck by its serenity and warmth,” Optican said. “It’s an absolute oasis in the heart of one of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles.”