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Battle Over Marilyn Monroe's Home: Preservation vs. Demolition
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 3 weeks ago on
May 8, 2024

The legal dispute over Marilyn Monroe's former home pits preservationists against property owners, showcasing the clash between historical significance and development interests. (Instagram: @SaveIconicArchitecture)

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In January, fans and conservationists were celebrating as the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission endorsed Marilyn Monroe’s home for landmark status, safeguarding the property from demolition.

However, the new owners of the Brentwood estate didn’t share the enthusiasm. They filed a lawsuit against the city of L.A. on Monday, seeking permission to demolish the house.

They argued that city officials had acted unconstitutionally by pursuing landmark status for a house they believed didn’t meet the criteria for historic cultural monument status, accusing them of engaging in “backdoor machinations.”

The lawsuit was filed by Brinah Milstein and her husband, Roy Bank, who acquired the Spanish Colonial-style home last summer for $8.35 million. Their plan to combine it with their adjacent property was thwarted by the efforts to preserve Monroe’s last residence.

Monroe’s Original Purchase

Monroe had purchased the house in 1962 for $75,000 and tragically died there six months later at age 36. The house bore the phrase “Cursum Perficio” in Latin on its front porch, signifying “The journey ends here.” However, the inscription’s origin is a mystery.

While fans and conservationists argued for the historical and cultural significance of the property, Milstein and Bank contested these claims. They highlighted the numerous alterations made to the house over the years, stating, “There is not a single piece of the house that includes any physical evidence that Ms. Monroe ever spent a day at the house.”

The lawsuit also noted the nuisance caused by tourist attention to the property despite its obscured view from the street.

The battle intensified in September 2023 when a demolition permit was issued, prompting public outcry and a subsequent move by L.A. City Councilmember Traci Park to begin the process of declaring the house a historic cultural monument.

Milstein, during a January meeting with the Cultural Heritage Commission, suggested relocating the home instead of designating it as a landmark. However, the outcome of this proposal remains uncertain.

This legal dispute echoes recent controversies over the preservation of historic homes, such as the demolition of the Zimmerman House by Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger, sparking debates about the balance between preservation and development in urban settings.

Read more about this story at this link.

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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