The owner of a luxury house featured most notably in the 1998 film comedy The Big Lebowski is donating it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) with the hope that people will build more architecturally creative homes. James Goldstein, owner of the Sheats Goldstein residence nestled in the hills above Los Angeles, has promised to leave the unique building, along with its gardens, art pieces and his fashion collection, to the museum so that it will one day be open to the public.
The house was featured prominently in The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers' surreal stoner film, when Jeff Bridges' character, The Dude, finds himself at the house of sleazy pornographer Jackie Treehorn. The residence, with its sweeping vistas of the Los Angeles skyline and coast, represents a quintessential Hollywood party house with low-slung couches and a well-lit pool snuggled into a corner where the roof, speckled with hundreds of skylights, curves into the ground.
"Los Angeles should represent a city that's contemporary and moving into the future," Goldstein said, on a day media were invited onto the grounds of the house for a ceremonial unveiling of the gift. Goldstein does not give his age but has been reported to be in his 70s. "I want people to build houses in a way that haven't been done before that are moving into the future instead of the past, so I hope my house is an inspiration for that kind."
"My favourite thing about this house really is the whole house, and I mean it in a very specific sense that you walk through that little front door, you take a turn around in a narrow space with a low ceiling and you come through here and all of the sudden the house opens to the view of Los Angeles. You can feel like the house was designed in relation to that land, sea and sky of the Pacific Ocean and the coast of LA," said Michael Govan, the director of LACMA.
Goldstein's art collection includes works by Ed Ruscha and Kenny Scharf. In an adjoining building, the owner has created Club James, most recently the venue for a private post-Grammy Awards party, with a bar and seating carved into the concrete floors. The property also includes a Skyspace light installation by artist James Turrell within the tropical gardens.
Goldstein, a self-confessed fan of filmmaking brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, said he was "very proud of my house being included" in the cult film. The house has also appeared in 2003's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and is often used for high-fashion photo shoots.
The owner, dressed in a cowboy hat and a bright blue leather jacket stamped with his initials from his own clothing label, said he has spent decades enhancing the 1960s house built by John Lautner. He co-designed many elements, from the frameless windows to the concrete floors, blurring the lines between the outdoor and indoor spaces.