By Mark David
Internationally celebrated celebrity photographer Cliff Watts listed a photogenic International Style home on a famously celeb-lined street in the Hollywood Hills for a smidgen less than $4.5 million, and within weeks, according to online listings, the property was put into escrow at an unknown price. Watts, who’s snapped heavy-hitters like Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts and James Franco, purchased the property from the family of the original owners in 1999 for $850,000.
Secreted behind imposing gates with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in not quite 2,800 square feet, the stylishly art-filled residence was custom designed in the mid-1950s by card-carrying Communist architect Josef Van der Kar for influential archconservative nuclear arms strategists Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter. The couple, who served as advisers to both Republican and Democratic administrations, including that of John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis, once had a phone line directly from the house to the Oval Office.
The combination living-dining room features cork floors, a fireplace and extra-wide floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that open to a cantilevered wraparound deck. There are also a galley-style kitchen and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor. A corkscrew staircase winds down to the lower level, where a freestanding fireplace is all that separates a window-lined den from the master bedroom and bathroom.
Meandering grounds, originally conceived by renowned landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, are privatized with dense stands of sky-high bamboo and include a more recent vintage guest cottage with a bathroom and a walk-in closet. A screened enclosed sleeping porch is perched above a large koi pond, and a swimming pool surrounded by sculptural benches sits in a separate sunny clearing.
A quick spin through public property records indicates the uber-successful shutterbug owns a small luxury apartment in downtown New York City as well as at least two other homes in Los Angeles, including a 1930s Spanish set in the historic Outpost Estates neighborhood that he snapped up in 2016 for a bit more than $2.2 million.
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