Marilyn’s Owlwood Hideaway Up for Sale

Marilyn at Owlwood, 1953 (photo by Milton Greene)

Owlwood, once the home of movie mogul Joe Schenck, is up for sale again, as Taylor Boozan reports for Forbes. The Holmby Hills estate, described as ‘Los Angeles’ most coveted property’, comes with a price tag of $115 million. Owlwood was previously on the market in 2012 for $150 million (see here), and in 2018, it was reported that it was one of several Hollywood homes tied up in a Ponzi scheme.

It has become almost a cliché to link desirable properties to Marilyn, often with no factual basis – but Owlwood really was a part of her life, as while she may never have lived there, Marilyn often stayed in Schenck’s guest cottage, and later posed for photo shoots there with Milton Greene.

One can only imagine how this young starlet from a humble background (and with comparatively modest tastes) must have felt amid such opulent surroundings. After Schenck’s death in 1961, other famous occupants included Marilyn’s Some Like It Hot co-star, Tony Curtis, who sold it for $750,000 in 1974 to Sonny & Cher. And in 2017, rapper Jay-Z hosted a Grammy Awards after-party at Owlwood.

Marilyn’s Hollywood Haunts Targeted in Ponzi Scheme

Marilyn photographed by Milton Greene at Joe Schenck’s estate in 1953

Mercer Vine, the brokerage firm whose listings included the Holmby Hills  estate where Fox mogul Joe Schenck once lived, and Marilyn’s last home in Brentwood, has closed after its financier, Robert H. Shapiro, was recently implicated in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, as Peter Kiefer writes for the Hollywood Reporter. (Schenck befriended Marilyn in the late 1940s, and she sometimes stayed in his guest cottage. Milton Greene also photographed her in Schenck’s mansion, known today as Owlwood. The article gives no further details on Marilyn’s home at Fifth Helena Drive, which was sold for $7.25 million in 2017.)

Garden view of Marilyn’s final home in Brentwood, Los Angeles

“Two years. That’s all it took for luxury brokerage firm Mercer Vine to establish itself as a major player in L.A.’s cutthroat luxury real estate market. Eight-figure listings. Pedigreed listings like Marilyn Monroe’s former home in Brentwood.

Just months after it launched in 2016, Mercer Vine grabbed headlines for representing Shapiro in the $90 million purchase of the Owlwood Estate, a 12,200-square-foot property at 141 South Carolwood Drive, which once was owned by Tony Curtis and later by Sonny and Cher. At the time, it was the second priciest residential sale in L.A. history behind the Playboy Mansion. What was even more astounding was when Shapiro and Mercer Vine relisted Owlwood a mere nine months later for $180 million without having done a single lick of work on the estate.”

Schenck Home For Sale

The former home of movie mogul Joe Schenck is rumoured to be up for sale – for $150 million, reports The Real Estalker. During the late 1940s, a young Marilyn often stayed in the guesthouse. (She always maintained that their friendship was platonic.)

“The sprawling Holmby Hills spread, set between Sunset Boulevard and the famously clannish Los Angeles Country Club, has over the years been owned by a long list of high profile people…

We can’t be sure the figures are accurate, but the Los Angeles County Tax Man show the house has 9 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a two-minute video made when Owlwood was for sale in the late 1990s and early 2000s states the multi-winged mansion encompasses 22 rooms including a baronial, 1,500 square foot living room with solid oak paneling and marble-faced fireplace…

Each of the three separate but adjacent parcels that make up Owlwood at one time had a substantial mansion on it. Two of them were torn down. The last mansion standing on the hoity-toity Holmby Hills homestead is a 12,000-plus square foot Italian Renaissance-style pile (vintage photo above) designed by accomplished architect Robert Farquhar and built in 1936 for Florence Quinn, the ex-wife of department store magnate and real estate mogul Arthur Letts Jr.

The property was later owned by hotelier Joseph Drown—he of the recently re-vamped Hotel Bel-Air—and Tinseltown mover and shaker Joseph Schenck—founder of 20th Century Fox.”

Spotlight on Schenck’s Carolwood Home

Today’s Hollywood Reporter documents the history of 141 South Carolwood Drive, the Holmby Hills estate owned by Joe Schenck, co-founder of Twentieth Century-Fox, in the late 1940s. The mansion features in a new book by Michael Gross, Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles.

As a starlet, Marilyn Monroe visited Schenck’s home frequently, and according to columnist Sheilah Graham, she became known as one of his ‘gin rummy girls’. Schenck even allowed her the use of his guest cottage.

Gross asserts that Marilyn and Schenck had a mutually beneficial affair, as other biographers have done previously. However, Marilyn and Schenck both denied it, as did friends of MM. One thing is for certain – Schenck liked Marilyn and was an early champion in her career. She last visited him in hospital in 1960, a year before he died.

Schenck sold his Carolwood home to Tony Curtis in the late 1950s. Curtis, who starred alongside Marilyn in Some Like it Hot, has claimed an affair with her dating back to the 1940s. His stories have been widely disputed, and this later residence may explain some of the details he gave about the guest cottage.

Subsequent occupants of the Carolwood estate have included Sonny and Cher. Though Marilyn frequented many such grand properties in her lifetime, her own addresses were comparatively modest.