The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has announced that real estate investor James F. Goldstein has pledged his iconic home and its contents and the four-acre estate surrounding it to the museum, along with an endowment for maintenance and programming.
In addition to the John Lautner-designed house, the bequest includes a James Turrell Skyspace, an "infinity" tennis court, and an entertainment complex with a nightclub and offices; works by artists Ed Ruscha, DeWain Valentine, Bernar Venet, and Kenny Scharf; Goldstein's extensive fashion collection; architectural models of the property; and a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. According to the Los Angeles Times, the value of the endowment is estimated to be $17 million, while the value of the entire bequest is some $40 million, although Goldstein called that figure "conservative."
A Wisconsin native, Goldstein bought the house in 1972, then worked with Lautner — and, after the architect's death in 1994, with his protégé Duncan Nicholson — to adapt and rebuild the house according to their ultimate vision, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space and collaborating on minimalist furniture made of concrete, wood, and glass. The residence has been the setting for fashion shoots and music videos and was featured in the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski (1998).
The bequest is the first gift of architecture to LACMA, whose CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan announced not long after taking over in 2006 that he was interested in acquiring landmark residential architecture, maintaining them in place, and opening them to visitors and scholars.
"Over the course of many meetings with Michael Govan, I was very impressed with his appreciation for the history of the house and the role it has played in the cultural life of Los Angeles, as well as with his vision for continuing that tradition when the house becomes an important part of LACMA's collections," said Goldstein. "Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to do the same to preserve and keep alive Los Angeles’s architectural gems for future generations."