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Filmmaker Marc Forster lists Neutra’s stunning Sten-Frenke House for $15M

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The epitome of a California dream, it overlooks the ocean

Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 647, the Sten-Frenke House is located in the Santa Monica Canyon section of Pacific Palisades.
Photos by Marc Angeles, courtesy of Billy Rose/The Agency

It’s a real banner week for Richard Neutra houses, with not one but two of the Viennese visionary’s most significant projects offered for sale. In addition to the property that put the architect on the map, the Lovell Health House in Los Feliz, Neutra’s landmark Sten-Frenke Residence in Santa Monica Canyon is also up for grabs.

Sited on a double lot overlooking the ocean, the International Modern-style house was commissioned by Ukrainian actress Anna Sten and her husband and fellow Ukrainian, Eugene Frenke, in 1934. The couple had come to Hollywood at the behest of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, who envisioned turning Sten into the “Russian Garbo.” While stardom turned out not to be in the cards for the actress—she was released from her contract after two years and a handful of forgettable pictures—she and her husband managed to make a lasting impact through their home, which netted its architect first prize in the 1934 House Beautiful competition.

Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 647, the Sten-Frenke Residence featured prominently in Lisa Cholodenko’s 2002 film Laurel Canyon. Not long after filming wrapped, according to Variety’s Real Estalker, the house was purchased by Laurel Canyon co-producer Jeff Levy-Hinte, who enlisted architect James Biber along with Marmol Radziner to restore and renovate the property.

In 2009, the Sten-Frenke traded hands once again, closing sale for $4.7 million. Its new owner, German-born filmmaker Marc Forster, subsequently brought in architectural restoration specialist Mark Haddawy to execute another renovation, this one returning the home to Neutra’s original specifications as much as possible.

Measuring 2,959 square feet, the two-story modern has three bedrooms, three and a half baths, an ovular dining room, a sizable living room, and an office. Among its distinctive architectural details are wraparound steel-frame windows, Douglas fir paneling, hardwood floors, a brick fireplace, and built-in furniture.

Along with restoring the original residence, Forster, whose directorial efforts include Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace, and World War Z, also had a guest house and work space added to the .38-acre lot. Designed by Johnston Marklee in an ovular shape to complement the main home, the two-story stucco building has two bedrooms, one bathroom, an office, a hot yoga room, sauna, and rooftop deck.

Other features of note include a swimming pool, gardens, on-site geo-thermal generators, and a three-car garage. With an asking price of $15 million, the pedigreed property is listed with Billy Rose of The Agency.

The oval dining room is surrounded by mature trees.
The living room features a brick fireplace, steel-frame windows, and built-in seating.
Apart from its modern appliances, the kitchen is much the same as it was when built.
The master bedroom opens to a spacious deck with glorious ocean views.
Designed by the firm of Johnston Marklee, the guest house has two bedrooms, an office, a yoga studio, sauna, and rooftop deck.
The property’s pool featured prominently in the 2002 film Laurel Canyon.
The view from the deck off the master bedroom.