There are “architectural” homes, and then there are architectural homes like the John Lautner-designed Schwimmer Residence. Commissioned and built in the early 1980s for Dr. Alden Schwimmer and his interior designer wife Nina, the rainbow-shaped hilltop house pushes the boundaries of design with its gently curvaceous and turret-ringed architecture, clinging precipitously to a rugged cliff and serving as an extension of the mountain it wraps around.
Tucked high above the treetops and a vertigo-inducing cantilevered driveway, the castle-like structure offers panoramic views of the Beverly Hills Post Office and Benedict Canyon neighborhood below. And on a more somber note, it’s just up the hill from the Manson murder house — recently immortalized in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” epic.
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A row of six hollowed-out stone turrets imbue the Schwimmer residence with a distinctly ominous, almost spooky presence. But the turrets aren’t just for design or to anchor the property to the treacherous hillside — one of them holds a pantry, another a wet bar, and two others sport compact bathrooms. And the turret in the master bedroom holds a decadent, skylit shower enclosure.
The home’s open-plan main living spaces encompass living and dining areas, massive stone fireplaces, and glass doors that connect to a cantilevered terrace that runs along the back of the home. Then there’s a high-drama den with a rib-like wooden ceiling with curved rafters, and built-in bookshelves. Elsewhere lurks a spiral front staircase with blood-red carpeting, naturally.
In 1998, the Schwimmers sold their cinematic house for an unrecorded amount to Michele Canepa, an Italy-based industrialist in the silk industry. In recent years, the property was primarily occupied by Canepa’s son Mortimer Canepa, a Loyola Marymount graduate and L.A.-based venture capitalist and producer.
Over the last 20+ years, the Canepa family made several alterations and updates to the Schwimmer residence, particularly in the kitchen — where there are custom cabinets, finishes and high-end stainless appliances that are definitely not original to the property. Still, the entire design remains admirable cohesive, and the structure appears nothing if not painstakingly maintained.
In 2014, the house was put up for sale with a stratospheric $21 million pricetag, generating much publicity but no serious buyers being taken off the market. But earlier this month, the property finally transferred off-market for $16.5 million in a cash deal — the buyer, records reveal, is Manhattan-based fashion designer James Jebbia, the founder of Supreme.
Though it has humble roots as a small New York skate shop, Supreme has grown to a “globally recognized streetwear powerhouse,” per GQ. The ultra-coveted brand — it was the third most-Googled fashion company in all of 2017, ahead of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent — is known for their extensively hyped collaborations with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nike/Air Jordan and the North Face. And then there are those deliberately limited product quantities — new Supreme releases tend to sell out within minutes, which has led to a full-fledged aftermarket with ghastly markups.
Despite Supreme’s enormous fame, Jebbia himself remains almost reclusive, rarely granting interviews or appearing at public events. Public records and other online resources show, however, that he and wife Bianca maintain a substantial property portfolio that includes an estate in the Hamptons and a loft-like condo in NYC’s Greenwich Village.
As for the Canepa family, they once owned one of the finest villa’s on Italy’s Lake Como. Villa Balbiano, as it is known, dates back to the 1600s and still looms gracefully over the lake’s western shore. Despite Michele Canepa publicly denying that he’d ever sell the property, the villa was sold in 2011 to — according to local reports — a mysterious Russian woman in her early 20s.
Launch Gallery: James Jebbia Buys John Lautner's Schwimmer House