The agents on Million Dollar Listing are known for thinking outside the box in order to sell distinctive properties. On tonight’s season finale, Josh Altman and Tracy Tutor team up to sell a historic home that, despite its iconic status, has struggled to attract buyers.
Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles airs at 9pm ET/PT Tuesdays on Bravo.
Here’s what you need to know:
Altman & Tutor Are Selling the Beverly Hills Home of Legendary Actor John Barrymore
The home featured on the season finale of MDLLA once belonged to Hollywood icon John Barrymore (the grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore). He purchased the property at 1500 Seabright Place, which is also known by the nickname “Bella Vista,” in Beverly Hills in 1927.
Forbes reported that at the time, the estate stretched seven acres and included 16 separate structures. An aviary, which according to Architectural Digest once held up to 500 birds, was converted into a guest house in the 1930s. Celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and Candice Bergen all rented the guest house at different times. Barrymore lived at Seabright until he died in 1942.
Born in Philadelphia into a family of performers in 1882, Barrymore began his career as a stage actor. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Barrymore attracted critical acclaim for his roles in Shakespearean plays, especially for his portrayal of Hamlet in 1922.
Barrymore moved to Hollywood in 1925 and found success in both silent and sound films. His striking good looks earned Barrymore the nickname “The Great Profile,” according to his profile on IMDB. His movie credits included Moby Dick, A Bill of Divorcement alongside Hepburn, Grand Hotel and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
But Barrymore was also infamous for his life behind the screen. Known as a ladies man, Barrymore was married and divorced four times. He amassed large debts to fund a lavish lifestyle. Barrymore’s battle with alcoholism also negatively impacted his career as he struggled to remember lines, NJ.com reported.
Barrymore collapsed on May 19, 1942, during a rehearsal for a radio show with musician Rudy Vallee, according to his obituary. The actor drifted in and out of a coma for the next several days at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital before he died on May 29. The obituary explained Barrymore had been “suffering from chronic liver and kidney ailments and later hypostatic pneumonia developed to aggravate his condition and weaken his heart. Barrymore was 60 years old.
The Barrymore Estate Has Quirky Features Including an Opium Den, Redwood Floors & a Hand-Painted Ceiling
The Barrymore estate is a unique property filled with original quirks. In the preview clip ahead of the episode, Altman and Tutor toured the expansive property and admired its more exotic features. The cigar lounge and bar area, for example, where Barrymore used to host poker nights, has original redwood flooring.
The kitchen is a bit of a time capsule. The hardwood floor is original, as well as the ceramic tiles that date back to the 1920s. The appliances have not been updated since the 1990s and there is less counter space than buyers would typically expect in homes at this price point.
Altman and Tutor next saw the living room, which is decorated with a hand-painted ceiling. The mural was commissioned by the late director Tony Scott (best known for Top Gun) who purchased the estate in 1992. The seller explained that the ceiling depicted their family, including the dog.
The master suite is massive, with plenty of space for separate seating areas. The bathroom is equally spacious but as Altman pointed out in the preview clip, significantly outdated. The master bath even has a carpet and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Altman speculated that a buyer would likely spend a few million dollars on renovations in order to “bring this back to life.”
The most memorable feature in the home may be the opium den. The room is located above the master suite and is only accessible via a ladder. Altman remarked that a creative buyer would appreciate the estate’s many “nooks.”
In addition to the extensive renovations needed to the kitchen and the bathrooms, the other challenge Tutor and Altman face in selling the property is its layout. The seller even joked during the preview that she hoped the agents had a GPS handy because she didn’t want them to get lost.
Seabright Place Has Been On the Market Several Times Since 2015 & the Price Has Been Sliced By More Than Half
1500 Seabright Place now includes nearly 7,000 square feet of living space, seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. The main house has three bedrooms, a wine cellar and the cigar lounge. The two-story aviary was converted into living space, with a kitchen and bedroom on each floor. The property also has two guest houses.
The wrap-around veranda showcases the stunning city and ocean views, which explains how the property earned the nickname “Bella Vista.” Tutor and Altman described the outdoor space on their respective websites: “Nestled behind gates, an enchanting storybook adventure awaits amongst the lush and mature landscaping with meandering paths, koi ponds, fountains, and sparkling pool with waterfall.”
Despite the property’s history, the house has failed to attract any buyers. It has been put on the market several times since 2015. According to Top Ten Real Estate Deals, the Barrymore Estate was once listed for as high as $42.5 million.
But the price has come down significantly since then. In 2016, the price was lowered to $29.95 million while the firm Hilton & Hyland was representing the property, the Pursuitist reported at the time.
According to records on Compass, the price first dropped below $20 million in October 2017. After nearly another year without any buyers, the price changed again to $19.5 million. The seller agreed to yet another price reduction in February 2019, to $17.9 million.
Altman and Tutor took over the listing in November 2019 with a $16.995 million price tag. Altman promoted Seabright Place on Instagram as a “Spanish Revival Masterpiece” that was “steeped in history.” The listing was canceled just before Christmas before it was put back on the market in February 2020. Altman again described the house on social media as a brand new listing.
The coronavirus pandemic caused a new headache of problems for the listing. Tutor and Altman decided to pause the listing amid lockdown restrictions. Since MDLLA wrapped filming, the stars put Seabright Place back on the market on August 14 but the price has once again been lowered. The home is currently available for $15.995 million.