The Latest in the Saga of Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic L.A. Home

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In Los Angeles, tearing down historic homes has become commonplace, causing the loss of some particularly fabled old beauties. One famous recent case in point: the “Zimmerman House” in Brentwood, which was crafted in the 1950s by modernist architect Craig Ellwood and purchased by Hollywood actor Chris Pratt and author Katherine Schwarzenegger, who destroyed the structure in favor of a brand-new mansion.

Another Brentwood home recently sparking ire among demolition foes has been this storied 1920s hacienda, the site of Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 death and the only house she ever owned. Resting amid a half-acre parcel of land at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, the residence was acquired last year in an $8.4 million, all-cash deal by wealthy real estate heiress Brinah Milstein and her husband Roy Bank, a reality TV producer, who are seeking to demolish the place.

More from Robb Report

Marilyn Monroe House LA
The acquisition of Monroe’s house gives Milstein and Bank more than an acre of prime Brentwood land.

The couple, who own the roughly 6,000-square-foot mansion immediately next door, for which they paid $8.2 million back in 2016, would like to link the two properties together to create one large compound. But in January, after much sturm and drang by preservationists, the Monroe residence scored a reprieve when the L.A. city council unanimously voted to consider the house for historic preservation, prompting the building department to revoke the couple’s demolition.

According to a new lawsuit, Milstein and Bank are now asserting that they have the right to demolish the famed home, claiming that city officials acted unconstitutionally in their efforts to designate the home as a landmark and accusing them of “backdoor machinations” in trying to preserve a house that doesn’t meet the criteria for status as a historic cultural monument.

The lawsuit claims the home has had 14 owners since Monroe’s death and has been substantially altered, with more than a dozen permits issued for various remodels during the past six decades. “There is not a single piece of the house that includes any physical evidence that Ms. Monroe ever spent a day at the house, not a piece of furniture, not a paint chip, not a carpet, nothing,” the lawsuit says. It also claims that the home is a nuisance to the neighborhood, with fans and tour buses regularly stopping by to snap pictures of the privacy wall.

Marilyn Monroe House LA
Marilyn Monroe’s former home.

Despite its modest scale and unpretentious nature, the 2,600-square-foot bungalow gained worldwide fame in 1962 as the location of Monroe’s apparent overdose at the age of 36. The walled and gated property was the only house ever owned by the legendary actress, and in the 60 years since, the estate has become one of the city’s most famous local landmarks. Blogger Lindsay Blake previously published an in-depth post filled with numerous fascinating tidbits about the property, including how Monroe placed a plaque above the front door that read “Cursom Perificio” in Latin. Translation: “My Journey Ends Here.”

The home’s exterior architecture remains incredibly similar to how it appeared in the early 1960s, but the interiors have been significantly altered. Most notably, the kitchen and bathrooms have been modernized, and the estate’s formerly detached guest casita has been merged into the main house. Still, numerous original features—casement windows, terracotta tile floors, wood-beamed ceilings—happily hearken back to Golden Age times.

Best of Robb Report

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.