Brad Pitt just set the record for the most expensive home purchase in the Carmel Highlands area, having dropped $40 million to become the newest owner of a clifftop castle that has seen a string of eccentrics and artists pass trough its stony halls for over a century.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood Oscar-winner forked over that fortune for the D.L. James House in the Carmel-by-the-Sea section of Carmel Highlands, and it’s believed to be the most anyone has paid for a homestead in the vicinity. Also known as “Seaward,” the Arts and Crafts Spanish Mission Revival stone mansion was built in 1918 by the American architect Charles Sumner Greene. Greene, who helped establish the Arts and Crafts movement in the U.S. after it was first popularized in Europe during the late Victorian period, was famous for his wooden bungalow homes and naturalistic style.
But according to W, when building the home of Daniel Lewis “D.L.” James, a wealthy businessman who dealt in fine china and silverware, the architect opted for a hardier material, constructing the home out of locally sourced granite and sandstone. The multi-million rocky cairn above the sea evokes the cinematic—Cary Grant’s French Riviera or else a bond villain’s not-so-secret lair.
Pitt, a known architecture nerd and sometime archeological treasure hunter, was seemingly entranced by the folkloric allure of Greene’s rough-hewn structure, resting on what appears to be the edge of the world. It is also possible that Pitt was enticed by the strange history of the home and its host of intellectual and whimsical residents.
W recounts the tale, beginning with the home’s inheritance by D.L. James Jr. Evidently, Junior was a man of leisure and letters who wrote novels, plays, and screenplays for monster movies (one of which would go on to inspire Godzilla), under various pseudonyms, including Daniel Hyatt and our personal favorite—Danny Santiago.
The writer and communist sympathizer was no stranger to the House Un-American Activities Committee. This eclectic character was also friends with Charlie Chaplin, whom he often hosted at his stately hideaway, Seaward, presumably discussing the inequities of capitalism while swirling goblets of wine on the million-dollar patio. Junior even served as assistant director on Chaplin’s iconic 1940 anti-fascist film The Great Dictator.
Other notable seaside guests of the writerly socialite included the literary power couple of John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion.
According to W, the original D.L. had a creative side as well, even staging plays back in New York. D.L. Sr. was also first cousins with the infamous bank robber Jesse James, though the respectable side of the family didn’t like to acknowledge the relation.
Coincidentally, the home’s latest owner played Jesse James in the 2007 Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Before Pitt, Seaward was owned by financier Joe Richie, who died earlier this year.
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