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Los Angeles County Museum of Art announces landmark promised gift of the James Goldstein House
The James Goldstein House, designed by John Lautner, photo © Tom Ferguson Photography.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced today that fashion and basketball aficionado James Goldstein has promised his John Lautner-designed home, its contents, and the surrounding estate to LACMA. The promised gift, which is in a new area of collecting for the museum, includes a James Turrell Skyspace in its extensive landscaped tropical gardens, an infinity tennis court, and an entertainment complex. Mr. Goldstein’s extensive fashion collection, works by artists including Ed Ruscha, DeWain Valentine, Bernar Venet, and Kenny Scharf, architectural models of the property, and an iconic Rolls Royce Silver Cloud from 1961 are included in the gift.

Mr. Goldstein said, "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. Following last year’s 50th anniversary gifts to LACMA, I decided now was the perfect time to announce that I will leave my house and its contents to the museum. 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.”

Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, said, “Over several decades, Jim Goldstein has lovingly cared for this house, which is an exceptional example of domestic architecture and a tremendous legacy in our own backyard. Great architecture is as powerful an inspiration as any artwork, and LACMA is honored to care for, maintain, and preserve this house, as well as to enhance access to this great resource for architecture students, scholars, and the public. We are excited to collaborate with other arts institutions on events that speak to Jim’s interests and that connect and reach across creative disciplines—architecture, film, fashion, and art.”

Elaine Wynn and Tony Ressler, co-chairs of LACMA’s board of trustees, commented, “We are so thrilled that the gift of this work of architecture expands LACMA’s collections to include one of John Lautner’s masterpieces. Jim’s generosity demonstrates his belief that his home belongs to the public, and future generations will be able to engage with this prime example of architecture alongside our deep holdings of decorative arts and design.”

The James Goldstein House represents a one-of-a-kind collaboration between an architect and patron over more than 30 years. Built in 1963 for Helen and Paul Sheats by John Lautner, the house was purchased by Mr. Goldstein in 1972. Beginning in 1979, when Mr. Goldstein brought the architect to the house, until Lautner’s death in 1994, the two worked closely together to rebuild and adapt the house according to Lautner’s and Goldstein’s ultimate vision, from replacing all the glass in the house to blur the line between the indoor and outdoor to collaborating on custom-built minimalist furniture made of concrete, wood, and glass.

More recently, Mr. Goldstein has been completing an entertainment complex on the property inspired by the main residence and designed by Duncan Nicholson, the last architect hired by Lautner who has worked on The James Goldstein House since his beginnings at Lautner's firm. Construction continues to expand and enhance the space, as well as to develop and maintain the extensive landscaping.

The James Turrell Skyspace, Above Horizon, is located deep in the tropical gardens of the property, and links to major works by Turrell in LACMA’s permanent collection—the Ganzfeld Breathing Light, and the Perceptual Cell Light Reignfall. This collaboration between Mr. Goldstein and James Turrell took place over four years and was completed in 2004.

The residence has been the setting for numerous fashion shoots and music videos, and has been featured in several movies, most notably as Jackie Treehorn’s house in the Coen brothers’ seminal film, The Big Lebowski (1998). Prominent photographers who have shot at the house include Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Michel Comte, Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth, Mikael Jansson, and Philip Lorca di Corcia.

John Lautner (1911–1994) was one of the most significant architects to have worked in Los Angeles. A disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, he designed from the inside out, often blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor with his use of materials and emphasis on transparency. The James Goldstein House enjoys spectacular views over the Los Angeles basin, encompassing the Pacific shoreline and stretching to the hills and mountains.

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