Wild History of Johnny Depp’s West Hollywood Castle

Among the many shocking displays of evidence in the libel lawsuit between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard is a video the actress smuggled out of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star’s West Hollywood home.

In it, Depp, now 58, is seen kicking, banging and slamming kitchen cabinets, and shouting “motherf-ker” in the home’s Gothic kitchen – a replica of a Bavarian castle in West Hollywood that looks more like the set of a horror movie, filled with turrets, towers and ramparts.

For Hollywood movie buffs hoping to admire the original castle on Sweetzer Avenue near the legendary Sunset Strip, it’s virtually invisible to view – tucked away in a cul-de-sac, behind lush vegetation and planted trees for privacy. All that can be seen from street level is the front door.

However, this does not prevent the tourist buses from transporting heaps of fans until they are left speechless.

“We were getting these open-top pickup trucks and people talking and clapping and shouting, and it’s annoying,” John Ryan, 63, who has lived on the streets for 28 years, told the Post.

A replica of a Bavarian castle, the house spans four acres.
Getty Images

Strange as it is to see a Gothic castle among the palm trees of LaLa Land, the history of the property is even stranger.

Depp bought the castle in 1995 for $2.3million from a flamboyant lawyer for the stars – including the pioneer of the ‘palimony’ claim in a landmark case against actor Lee Marvin by his live-in girlfriend – Marvin Mitchelson . The late lawyer, who had a high-profile jet-set lifestyle, had transformed the castle’s interior into an elaborate showcase.

Mitchelson, who also represented Tony Curtis and Sonny Bono, lost the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom, four-acre estate to bankruptcy after a tax evasion conviction saw him serve two years in federal prison. He died in 2004 at age 76.

“After Mitchelson lost the castle,” neighbor Ryan recalled, “it fell into disrepair. When Johnny Depp bought it, he spent quite a bit of time remodeling it, hauling in huge trees to hide it completely. Over the years, he bought the five or six houses in the circle and one of them serves as his recording studio. At that time, he was wasting money like crazy.

Neighbor John Ryan is tired of traffic and the constant stares of tourists.
Neighbor John Ryan is tired of traffic and the constant stares of tourists.
John Chapple/www.JohnChapple.com

The castle was designed in 1931 and built over six years by Hersee Moody Carson, an eccentric former schoolteacher from Louisiana who became wealthy through her third and fourth husbands.

Number three, Beverly Hills businessman Peter Gross killed himself after being blackmailed by his housekeeper for an affair they were having.

Carson went on to marry George Campbell Carson, a coal miner with a sophomore education, who achieved millionaire status after spending nearly two decades in court battling mining companies for patent infringement. He earned $20 million from them in 1925.

Hersee went on a spending spree, buying art and antiques – including Louis XVI furniture and Hepplewhite cabinets – for the castle she dubbed “Mount Kalmia” in honor of a laurel blossom. of Mountain.

Over the years, the house has been occupied by attorney Marvin Mitchelson, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and Orlando Bloom.
Over the years, the house has been occupied by attorney Marvin Mitchelson, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and Orlando Bloom.
Corbis via Getty Images

According to Los Angeles real estate agent and researcher James Colin Campbell, who investigated the castle’s history, Hersee “hired 100 laborers to build the three-story, 7,500-square-foot castle that she herself designed as you go, no expense was spared.

Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper and an underground conveyor belt running from the street to the kitchen for deliveries. After the castle was completed in 1933, Hersee divorced Carson who died the following year after excluding her from his will. She sued her Carson family heirs and won a settlement.

But it was too late: during the early years of World War II, the city of Los Angeles purchased the place for $9,000 after Hersee defaulted on his taxes. (She died in 1972 at age 93.) It was later rented to a burlesque dancer who turned it into a boarding house with 38 tenants, including a comedy writer for Bob Hope.

Depp bought the castle in 1995 for $2.3 million.
Depp bought the castle in 1995 for $2.3 million.
Pool/AFP via Getty Images

For years the castle was long rumored to be the bizarre home of Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi, famous for his portrayal of Count Dracula, but that was a fiction invented by tour operators to generate business and interest.

In the 1950s, the place was filled by billionaire Howard Hughes’ right-hand man, Noah Dietrich, who oversaw the germaphobe’s movie empire. Dietrich ran RKO Pictures and TWA Airlines and Hughes reportedly tasked him with “making me the richest man in the world”. It’s unclear how much he paid or how long he lived there – it’s all apparently part of the secrecy surrounding him and his boss.

During the 1970s the castle was the setting for posh parties – with up to 400 revelers – hosted by Berry Gordy, the Motown legend who helped make Diana Ross famous (he also secretly fathered her daughter Rhonda) .

Heard preferred to live in Depp's collection of penthouses rather than the castle.
Heard preferred to live in Depp’s collection of penthouses rather than the castle.
Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the castle’s popularity over the generations, it was apparently not Heard’s cup of tea, as evidenced by a document entered into evidence at trial. The letter from a former lawyer for Heard threatened to serve Depp with a restraining order if he did not continue to let the actress, now 36, live rent-free in three of his penthouses in a trendy building in the downtown Los Angeles.

The actor bought a collection of five penthouses, in the Art Deco Eastern Columbia building, between 2007 and 2008 for more than $7 million. During their rocky two-year union, Heard moved with Depp to his various residences. but it was rare for the couple to stay at the castle, or anywhere, for very long.

At some point Orlando Bloom, co-star of Depp’s ‘Pirates’, moved into the castle for a while.

Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper and an underground conveyor belt running from the street to the kitchen for deliveries.
Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper and an underground conveyor belt running from the street to the kitchen for deliveries.

Depp also has a stocked French Village — complete with its own skate park and bistro — now up for sale for $55 million. He owns a 41-acre ranch in his home state of Kentucky, a 150-year-old mansion in England and his own island in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, the castle in West Hollywood continues to attract tourists – even though neighbor Ryan has tried to talk them out of it.

“As Mr. Depp’s neighbor, I implore you not to go!” he posted once on TripAdvisor.com. “All you do is disturb everyone in the area without any profit! I’ve lived across the street since Mr. Depp moved in many years ago, and I’ve seen him ONCE! Believe me, you won’t see him, his house, his children, his wife, his dogs.

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