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Danny Elfman’s Home Is On Market For $14.6 Million: LA

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The Hollywood composer’s longtime home, which is hitting the market with an abutting property, is filled with antiques and oddities, like a spider monkey skeleton and a taxidermied turkey.

Composer Danny Elfman has long been a collector of the weird and the wonderful.

It all began in Mali, where he bought his first skeleton, carved from a single bone, while on a trip after graduating high school. Now, his home is packed with such oddities—from 19th-century taxidermy to religious artifacts to bones.

It is, perhaps, an unsurprising hobby for a man who has composed the scores for many dark and unusual films, such as Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

The retro kitchen in the property’s second home, which was bought for Bridget Fonda in 2015

The main home has a living room decorated by Ms. Fonda

“I have so much stuff,” Mr. Elfman said, “Every space I have is filled everywhere. I can’t get enough shelf space, table space and wall space.”

Now, Mr. Elfman’s unusual universe is on display for the first time. His longtime home, a 1920s mansion in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, is coming on the market. Mr. Elfman has lived there for close to two decades with his wife, actress Bridget Fonda. A few years ago, Mr. Elfman purchased a neighboring home to the rear of the main house that is used mostly by his wife. The homes are listed for a combined $14.6 million. The couple’s collections are not for sale.

A dining area in the main home.
A more formal dining room has a taxidermy turkey on display, at right.

Mr. Elfman bought the roughly century-old mansion for $2.13 million in 2000, records show. It was before he and Ms. Fonda began dating, and refurbishing and decorating it became the story of their initial courtship, he said. The couple, both born in L.A., would meet for lunch and then spend long afternoons in antique stores in West Hollywood looking for sconces and chandeliers.

They married in 2003 and have a 15-year-old son. Mr. Elfman also has two older children from a previous relationship. Ms. Fonda’s films include “The Godfather Part III” and “Single White Female.” She is the daughter of Peter Fonda, the granddaughter of Henry Fonda and the niece of Jane Fonda.

“One of the things my wife and I bonded over is that we both had taxidermy,” Mr. Elfman said. He noted that he has a strong preference for pieces from the 19th century or earlier. “That’s where I draw the line. I don’t know why I feel less guilty if it’s over a century old. It’s like it’s now taken on a different life or something.”

The composer said he was drawn to the house’s authenticity. He had been looking for a property from that period, but everything he looked at was 1920s on the outside and 1980s on the inside. “I was looking for something that hadn’t been all redone,” he added.

The six-bedroom home, in the gated community of Fremont Park, fit the bill exactly. Though it was in some disrepair, the roughly 6,300-square-foot mansion had many original details: elaborate carved-stone fireplaces, decorative columned doorways and gilded coffered ceilings.

The piece de resistance: A large ballroom with dramatic vaulted ceilings. The room was designed by an early owner of the house, the real-estate developer Willits J. Hole, in the late 1920s as a gallery for his collection of Old Masters, according to a historical report on the house commissioned by Mr. Elfman.

The restoration took about three years and roughly $3 million, the composer said. “There was a point where I was kicking myself, like I’m putting all this money in and I don’t even get an extra room,” he joked.

The expenses were a runaway train. “There was a point where my business manager would call and beg me to stop,” Mr. Elfman said. “He was like, ‘Danny, enough!’ But there’s a certain point where you’ve committed to a project and you have to see it through.”

The result is a lens into the couple’s eclectic world. The property’s main living room, which has original wood beamed ceilings and a huge stone fireplace, is filled with religious art from South America. A wood snake on a side table was purchased by Ms. Fonda from the estate of writer Truman Capote.

The taxidermied head of a Gharial, or small crocodile, pokes out from the wall. On the coffee table, the skeleton of a “very old” spider monkey provides a centerpiece for the room. In the dining room, vintage dolls are lined up on the mantel and a taxidermied turkey rests on a side table. An antique carved-wood dining table complements a gold-hue coffered ceiling.

The composer said his oddities vary dramatically in value.

“If you took a dozen things from any room and lined them up, some of them might have intrinsic value and be very old and authentic. And some of them are really cheap stuff I found at swap meets and flea markets. I have no sense of value,” he said.

The couple uses the ballroom as a screening room or, on occasion, for parties or performances. Mr. Elfman has basement space beneath the ballroom for his own studio, where he has composed much of his work over the past two decades.

Directors such as Mr. Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Raimi and Gus Van Sant have visited the studio to collaborate on their movie scores. He and Mr. Burton share a particularly close working relationship, as well as an interest in the ghoulish and monstrous. They have worked on close to 20 films together over the three decades since they initially teamed up for “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” in 1985.

Above his consoles, Mr. Elfman has hung a series of marionette puppets designed by his friend, New York puppeteer Erik Sanko.

The studio also is filled with souvenirs from movies Mr. Elfman has been involved in. A robotic squirrel is from the set of Mr. Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and a puppet from that director’s “Corpse Bride” is in a glass bell jar. “With each animated film I did with Tim, I got one of the puppets.” he said.

The property also has a small New Orleans-style courtyard with hanging plants and a fountain.

In 2015, when the house that abuts the mansion came on the market, Mr. Elfman bought it for $3.6 million for Ms. Fonda, who had been admiring it for years. The roughly 4,400-square-foot, four-bedroom house dates to 1916 but was renovated in the 1970s and has a retro bar and a bright yellow kitchen with vintage wallpaper depicting fruit, Mr. Elfman said. The composer said he didn’t see the property before purchasing it.

When the couple has visitors, the house provides extra bedrooms, but it’s mostly just a private refuge for Ms. Fonda. “What’s the opposite of a man cave?” he asked with a laugh.

Mr. Elfman said he never expected to sell the properties, but when the pandemic hit, he and Ms. Fonda and their son headed to Mr. Elfman’s ranch near Santa Barbara, which he has owned for about 25 years. The couple settled there for what they thought would be about a month, but loved the lifestyle and didn’t want to return to L.A. “There was a point about halfway in when we realized we’re more comfortable and happier there,” he said.

Mr. Elfman won’t be short on oddities at his other home. It is filled with big architectural pieces from his travels to India, Pakistan and the Afghanistan border, he said.

The main living room in Danny Elfman’s Hancock Park home displays an antique-doll collection, left, and a taxidermied gharial, jutting from the wall, top right.
Damon Casarez for The Wall Street Journal 

The couple plans to buy a smaller L.A. home where they can stay until their son graduates high school, but L.A. will no longer be their primary home, Mr. Elfman said.

The properties are available separately or as a pair, according to the listing agents, Rayni and Branden Williams of Williams & Williams. If sold separately, the main home is asking $8.8 million and the smaller one is $5.8 million.

Ms. Williams said Hancock Park has always drawn actors, artists and musicians because of its central location close to the big Hollywood studios. It is also more affordable than the communities of Bel-Air or Beverly Hills. “A buyer can still purchase a gated estate on a large lot very reminiscent of old Beverly Hills for a competitive price,” she said.

Source: Mansion Global

Property Pictures: Simon Berlyn/Williams & Williams

(This story has been published from without modifications to the text. Only the heading has been changed)

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