Hollywood Icon Bette Davis’ Beach Home Is Still on the Market for Insane Price

by Matthew Memrick

Bette Davis’s 1929 California estate is still for sale, and the current owner hopes he can get millions out of the Hollywood icon’s house.

That owner, Canadian entrepreneur Richard Wernham, has the Laguna Beach house on the market for $17 million. He dropped $3 million from its first listing in April. The 68-year-old owner cut the price twice after eight months, and he still can’t unload it. Laguna Beach is south of Los Angeles.

According to The New York Post, Toronto-based global wealth manager Wernham and his wife, Julia West, bought the oceanfront French Normandy cliff estate in 2005 for $13.5 million. The historic 5,400 square foot house also made the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 

The home also has a tremendous tax advantage as it benefits from a 10-year Mills Act. That means the new owners can get a property tax reduction when the owner agrees to keep up the property’s preservation. 

Bette Davis House Has Quite A History

Local artist and architect Aubrey St. Clair designed the three-story stucco home for newspaper mogul Charles H. Prisk. Prisk owned two California newspapers, the Pasadena Star-News and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

But locals still call it the Bette Davis House off of Woods Cove.

Two-time Oscar Award winner Davis bought the home in 1947 and lived there for three years. During this decade, the actress was reportedly the highest-paid woman in America. The Bette Davis website listed her earning this mark in 1942 while other sources said she landed a four-picture deal with Warner Brothers and earned $10,285 per week.

 She stayed there with her third husband, artist and former boxer William Grant Sherry, and their daughter Barbara until 1950.

Since Bette Davis lived there, past owners have kept the house with many original features. The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home has two kitchens. 

The house is a perfect mix of new updates and old-time features.

Spectacular House Has Sprawling Ocean Views

The house still features Davis’s touch with two “D” letters on a glass door and a wrought-iron chimneypiece.

But past owners have probably spent hours looking out on the beach from the lookout room, family room, and dining room. A private courtyard leads to the main entrance and guest home entrance. There’s a sunny lounge area with access to the beach below. 

There are also heated floors in an updated bathroom, even though I’m not sure why you’d need those in California. The main suite’s interior Juliet balcony has a large ocean view terrace and an updated ensuite bathroom.

As for the star amenities, think large bar area, adjoining media room, wine cellar, gym, and another ocean view bedroom on the lower level. The guest house features two bedrooms, including one with a self-contained apartment.