I know the following story to be true – it was told to me (a long time ago) by the location rep of the house as we were standing on the front porch, watching the sun set and wondering when the hell they were going to call wrap.
Once upon a time (okay, late 1990’s), a then-wealthy foreign businessman decided to give his wife the mother of all anniversary gifts – a hillside home in Malibu with stunning ocean views and huge walk-in closets (or whatever it was that was trendy in the late 1990’s).
He bought a gigantic parcel (I seem to remember it being at least seven acres), and hired a contractor to build his dream home – where he and his beloved would spend the rest of their lives in opulence and bliss.
One fine day, standing in the middle of his breathtaking ocean-view property, he held up a five dollar bill and said to the contractor “I want a house that looks exactly like the one on the back of this bill.”
The contractor, being a working man, probably said “Sure thing, boss”, while thinking what the hell would these wackos ask him to build next.
But the contractor, being a working man, gave the wealthy businessman exactly what he asked for – A huge, gaudy white marble house that, from the front, was a dead ringer for the Lincoln Memorial.
The businessman spend who-knows-how-much on the house and elaborately landscaped grounds (sort of Versailles-like: topiaries, garden paths, fountains and a pool that looked like it belonged at Ceasar’s Palace), and then, on the big day, drove the love of his life to the new house to surprise her.
As they came up the winding driveway, and the brand-new house came into view, his wife said “Ugh – it’s horrible! It looks like a mausoleum! I could never live in such an ugly house!”
I have no idea what he said next, but I do know that he turned the car around, went back home, and put the property on the market the very next day.
While he was trying to sell it, he allowed a bunch of rap videos (and rock videos, and infomercials, and anything else that would pay him – as the whole process apparently ruined him) to shoot there, and that’s when I heard this story.
Speaking of stories, the moral of this one is that the next time you drop a few million dollars (which I just know you have lying around – admit it) on a house for your wife, maybe you should be very, very certain that she’ll like it.
Like maybe ask her first.
Just a suggestion.
I was not working at the five dollar house today, but a few miles up the road in northern Malibu, just south (by about 100 yards) of the Ventura County line (for non LA-based readers, this means it’s in bumfuck).
Everything about the day was unremarkable, except for the views. Good Lord, the California coast is beautiful at sunset.
Okay, the layer of smog’s not so pretty, but otherwise it’s stunning.
This is the guesthouse. I love the warm tones of late-afternoon sunlight.
This is the last of the light and the first star in the sky at the same time.
And as I was walking to my car, I noticed this sign on the neighbor’s gate:
That’s not very neighborly, now is it?
Oh, and I have no idea what happened to the five dollar house (which I seem to remember being above Trancas market, which is a few miles south of where we were shooting today).
It’s probably been torn down and is now more than likely a condo complex called “Lincoln Estates” or something like that.