COTE DE TEXAS

THE HOUSES FROM THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY: JOHNNY DEPP’S EXTRAORDINARY PROPERTIES!

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I wrote this story awhile ago, after the Johnny Depp trial, but being in the middle of moving out of town, I just didn’t have time to finish it.   So…here it is!

Like most of the world, I watched the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard trial.  In fact, I watched every second of the testimony and then some.   Did you?   I watched it on YouTube – on Emily D. Baker’s legal channel.  She’s an attorney who comments on different live trials as they are happening.  It was not unusual for over 130,000 plus people to tune in daily for her opinions on the Depp trial.  I learned so much about the law from Emily that, like Kim Kardashian, I’m thinking of taking the baby bar without going to law school and let the chips fall as they may.  Hey, you never know!!!   Joni Webb, Barrister.  Now THAT’s a joke!

Despite what you think of Johnny Depp, whether he is guilty of physical or mental abuse, even though he was judged not guilty by the court, the man has bought some incredible houses through the years.   And that is what I want to examine here.   So much testimony revolved around his houses – it made me wonder, what did they look like?  I vaguely remembered reading about one of his houses a few years ago – the one in France - but what did the other houses that they discussed in court look like?

The younger, once very handsome Johnny.  A lifetime of alcohol and drug abuse has taken its toll on his appearance, and on his mental status, it appears. 

        

Disclaimer – I was never a Depp fan, at all.  I never watched Pirates or Jump Street or Edward Scissorhands.  The only movie I saw him in that I even remember was the recent 2019 Waiting For The Barbarians, which he starred in, alongside Rob Pattinson. (Which is why I watched the movie to begin with, of course.)

“Waiting For The Barbarians” – a more recent role that Depp played against Rob Pattinson.  Hmmm.  No wonder I watched this movie!  I remember thinking – wow.  Depp is such a great actor.  His role in that movie scared me to death!

Depp with his long time partner and mother of his two children, Vanessa Paradis.  Whenever I thought of Johnny Depp, I thought he was with Vanessa.  I didn’t realize that they had broken up some years ago and that he had a new girlfriend and later, wife – the infamous Ms. Heard.

 Amber? She was a complete unknown to me. 

I just never followed Depp, was not a fan.   But once the trial started, I became interested and wanted to know more – what is true?  Is he really a wife beater or abuser?

           

And there is this, I have always had this predilection for the underdog.  And since Depp had already lost a lawsuit in England against a tabloid that stated he was a wife abuser etc., I considered him the underdog.    Why on EARTH would he bring another lawsuit and CHOOSE to have it televised worldwide if he was truly guilty????

It just didn’t make sense to me.

And that is why I wasn’t surprised he was found not guilty.

Is Depp an alcoholic?  Yes.   Is he a nasty drunk?  Yes, it appears he can be.  Is he a drug addict?  Yes,  he admitted he was and maybe still is.  BUT being addicted to opiates does not make you a violent maniac as opposed to alcohol addiction, which can.   

While the videos shown in court verified that a drunk Depp can yell loudly and slam doors around and probably throw things too, he insisted – in fact – swore – that he never hit Amber.  He does admit in a few instances he tried to restrain her from hitting him and she might have gotten injured in the melee. 

   I can hear you all screaming at me, calling me dumb and naïve and gullible.  I might be.  But, there have been so many proven inconsistencies and out right lies told by Amber that I am leaning towards believing Johnny’s side of the story.   Maybe I am just gullible.    

Are you Team Amber or Team Johnny????   Did you believe Amber or Johnny?

OK, let’s take a look at his interior décor and architecture.      

During the trial it came out that Depp was told by his new accountant that his former money managers had stolen many millions from him.  He sued, they settled, but the fact remained that Depp was said to be broke despite being one of the world’s biggest movie stars.  At one point he owned over 14 properties at the same time.  It is alleged that Johnny spent over $75 million to purchase, restore, and furnish these houses.  The maintenance on the upkeep of his houses was over $2 million a MONTH.  

   Let’s look at his first house, that isn’t even on land.  His yacht, the beautiful "Amphitrite," which he reportedly bought for $18 million plus.  When he was having money troubles, he sold the yacht to JK Rowling in 2016 for $26 million. 

                    

Johnny’s chic yacht that looks vintage, but isn’t.

Depp had to sell it when his business managers brought the bad news that he would no longer be able to afford the $350,000 monthly upkeep needed for this yacht.   Wow! 

The boat requires eight crew members which adds to the cost.   Rowling also found the yacht too expensive to keep and sold it just a few months after she bought it. 

Now, one can rent it out, but only if they can afford it.

The yacht measures 156’.  It  has had two names, first it was called Vajoliroja – named after his partner Vanessa Paradis and children Lily Rose and Jack.  After he and Vanessa broke up, he changed its name to Amphitrite.  Built in just 2001, Depp completely outfitted the yacht in 2008, the year after he bought it.  He gave it an exotic, 1930’s tycoon vibe which was designed by Tanju Kalaycioglu.   While I love the look of the boat, some of its interiors are a bit too opulent for me.

The outdoor dining room.  It must be a second heaven to eat out here at dusk.

The yacht can sleep 10 in 5 bedrooms, there are also five bathrooms.  There is a kitchen, living room, along with rooms for staff.

     

Velvet covered sofas and chairs in the living room.

 

Another view of the main salon.

 

Tufted chairs surround the dining table, converted from the salon.

  

Master suite

      

Master bathroom is very large for a boat.

 

Another master suite

               

And yet another.

A twin room.

     

And the Bunk Room.

      Johnny and Vanessa on board during happier times.

 

        At sea, the Depp yacht.   I absolutely love the look of its vintage style.  It looks like Cary Grant might just step out from the salon.

    Compare Depp’s yacht to this more modern looking yacht, owned by Tiger Woods, Depp’s boat is so much more interesting looking. 

                             Depp’s boat in Venice.  This must be one possession that was hard to give up!

For years Depp lived with Vanessa and their children in France.  In 2001, he bought a small 37 acre village, 12 miles from St. Tropez.  The town has since been listed for sale a few times, but then it would be taken off market.  Today, the town is available to purchase yet again.  Johnny spent over 11 million dollars remodeling all the 19th century stone buildings in his town.

The man who initially sold Johnny the town still lives there and acts as a sort of security guard and tour guide.

 The town that Johnny bought.   I mean – come on!!  Could you just die over this????   How great would it be to decorate an entire 19th century town?  At the upper far right – you can see the town’s original chapel with its own bell tower. 

 

The estate includes the main house, six guest cottages (one of which is the converted chapel.)  There are 15 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms in total.  The chapel can be seen at the far right, next to a smaller building.

Above is the main house, a conglomeration of different old houses stitched together to create one large home.

The village has a restaurant or bistro, a wine cave, a skate park, two swimming pools and an artist studio.

 

An Aerial View - Legend:

1. Large swimming pool

2. Main house

3.  Smaller swimming pool

4.  Chez Marceline, the café

5. Church

6. Laundry

To see the estate on Googlemaps use these coordinates: 43.353366,6.574329 

 

The café.   Chez Marceline – named after Marceline Lenoir, Vanessa’s acting agent. 

The café is fitted out as a commercial restaurant.  Across the gravel lane is the blanchisserie, or laundry.

The table set for dinner inside Chez Marceline.  Beautiful antique looking tableware.  Notice the tiled floors.

  A view of the back of the café with its paneled walls and piano.

Here Depp performs in his café.

The dishes are branded, just like a four star restaurant.

Past the café and laundry is what was once the church and is now a guest house.

Because there is an original church on the property, it is officially a “village” and not a “hamlet.”  The oldest buildings date back to 1812.

 

Notice the original aged stone floors.  Past the bed is the open bathroom.  Also, notice the antique confessional to the right!!  This was converted into a closet. 

Close up of the copper bath and sink, open past the canopy bed.  That reminds me of the copper bath that Lauren Liess had in her past house. 

 Lauren’s former house with her own copper tub (I miss that house!)

Inside Depp’s main house.  The house has faded blue shutters and is 4500 sq. ft.  There are five bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms inside the house.

The front door.

The upstairs library above the great room, seen before.  Everywhere there are guitars and pianos.  I never realized how much a part of his life music is.

   The back side of the main house.  The church can be seen in the upper very left corner.  There are two swimming pools.   This smaller pool is hidden behind an L shaped open air gazebo.    

 

In the back of the gazebo type building, there is a large fireplace.

 

The bigger second pool is also surrounded by gazebos.  Grapes are grown behind the pool.   This pool is quite far from the core or “downtown” area of the estate.  Instead, it is off to the side, away from Chez Marceline and the Church and laundry. 

 Lunch is set up under the gazebo.

Later, dinner is served here.

Sand on the ground creates a beach like atmosphere.

 

Another vignette is set up close to the laundry area.

 

Johnny likes to paint with oils.  In the court there was quite a lot of talk about mineral spirits which is used for paint thinner or to clean brushes.    On the property he has an artist’s studio.  This is next to the church cloister.  There is also a work out room.  Notice the beautiful French door.  Later when he and Amber got together, she liked to paint too and he would set up easels at his various houses so they could paint together.  Hard to believe how ugly it all ended.

 

  Below the house, there is a cave that was once used to store wine – probably.    The cave is hidden behind an antique, heavy wood door.   Today, it is used as another guest space.  

 

Inside a guest room.

 

 

Off to the side, away from the town center, is a vintage wagon.  

 

It is used as a guest room and besides the sleeping area, there is a kitchen and bathroom.

 

 

The property has been for sale off and on for many years.  It’s now for sale again – if you are interested!!

Besides the yacht and the French village, Johnny also owns his own Bahamian island.  In 2004, he bought the island for just 3.6 million dollars.  Seems cheap, doesn’t it?  Must be a hitch somewhere. Well the hitch was there was nothing on the island – no infrastructure at all.  Everything needed to be brought to the island, by boat, in order to make it inhabitable, which it now is.

 

Little Hall’s Pond Cay covers 45 acres and has six beaches, one named Lily Rose and another Jack after his children.  There’s also Brando Beach and Gonzo Beach (after author/friend Hunter S. Thompson.)  Depp first spotted Little Hall’s while he filmed Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003.  

 

The small white sand beach between what looks like a U shaped area, smack in the middle of this photo, is where Johnny and Amber’s 2015 wedding took place.  To the upper right is where the main house and boat dock are.  Notice the white path that runs through the island.

      

The wedding beach.  The main house and boat dock are seen on the opposite side of the island.

 

The wedding beach is seen at the upper right while the main house and dock are seen at the far left.  Depp calls the island the most “pure and beautiful” place he’s ever seen.

I agree!

 

  

The main house and the boat dock.

During the trial, it was revealed that once Johnny had come to the island to detox from his opiate addiction.  He wrote Amber’s parents that she saved his life.  The detox was successful, for a time, at least.

 

 

Another view of the boat dock and main house.

Johnny built a ranch style house on the island along with several guest houses that are solar powered.  There is also a beach house and a bamboo yurt.   The guests use golf carts to travel to and fro on the island.

And aerial view of the island with the boat dock at the left and the wedding beach at the right, seen straight in the middle of the island.

 

  A major project Depp undertook was building this bar that is a remake of the one seen in The Rum Diary, the movie where he and Amber met.

The island is protected so in order to build on the environmentally sensitive beach, special equipment and materials were brought to the island to build the bar.

 

    

Café Cabrones, the remake of The Rum Diary bar.  Notice the old fashioned 1960s styled pay phone at the far left.

Paparazzi helicopters circled the beach during the wedding.  Here you can see the secluded beach decorated for the nuptials. 

Closer view of the wedding being set up. Notice that gorgeous turquoise water.

OK – here’s a quiz – given you just won the lotto, would you choose,

1. The Yacht.

2. The French Village.

3.  The Bahamian Island.

I know what I would choose for sure.  Well probably.  The island.  BUT with a lotto win, I could also buy the yacht.  So, I choose 1 and 3.   LOL

Setting up – looks like it was quite windy that day. The beached boat stays there always.

From the ocean – you can see the beached boat on the wedding beach.

And a view of the guests.

 

The big moment.   Their happiness did not last long.  The couple divorced two years later amid accusations of abuse on both sides.

Another beach with guest tents and the bamboo yurt.

  

 

In this photo of the island you can clearly see the paths that Depp cleared so that they could ride carts throughout the island.

Despite money problems, Depp apparently still owns the island.

HEAVEN on earth!

     

 

Onto Los Angeles.  In the trial there was a lot of talk of two properties in LA, the house on Sweetzer and the Penthouses.   The penthouses are quite incredible.  No, they aren’t a village in France or an island in the Bahamas, but for LA they are very interesting architecturally.  In 2007,  Depp bought five penthouse units in the 13 story Eastern Columbia Building after it had been remodeled.

 

Built in 1930, it was designed by Claud Beelman and it is considered Los Angeles’ best example of Art Deco still standing.  I love the clock.  What a great touch!

The front of the Eastern Columbia building is not quite as stunning as the back side is.

Above the front door.  Beautiful.  Incredible.

A larger view of the swimming pool.  Depp’s penthouses opened onto this level with the pool, spa, and fitness center, along with a fireplace.

Sunset view.

   Inside the lobby.

        

Depp bought five penthouse apartments that sit next to each other.  He let his wife Amber live there, along with all her friends and sister – who lived there completely rent free.   After the divorce, Amber wanted to remain there but Johnny eventually sold all the penthouses.  Of all her best friends that once lived there rent free thanks to Johnny, Amber is no longer friends with any of them.

The five apartments were a total of 11,500 sq. feet.   Four were two bedrooms and one was a one bedroom unit.

This was the penthouse #2.  The door opens directly out to the swimming pool area.  Johnny’s taste is rather eccentric, so the penthouses that did not sell right away were restyled, like this one – the next to last one to sell.   

Aerial view from the second floor of this apartment.  It’s garden area is seen further below.

The second floor bedroom.  Notice how the brick walls are heavily scalloped over the windows.  Very unusual.

Notice the row of penthouse windows here above the greenery.  You can see the shape of the ornamental architectural décor outside the windows which is why the windows are scalloped inside. 

The bathroom inside #2. Love.

The last penthouse to sell was this one bedroom, seen here.  The unit had a large mural on one wall by Brazilian street artist Osgemeos.  This is how the apartment was first staged to sell.  Below is how it really looked:

Before – there was no sofa, just a large table in this unit with the mural.

After:  The penthouse as it was restyled a second time for sale.  This time, the styling worked and the unit sold, closing Depp’s tenure at the highrise.  

  The bedroom.  Again, the brick is fashioned in a scalloped pattern over the window.    

 

The bathroom with its marble tiled floor and walls.

This penthouse is where Amber lived and Johnny sometimes stayed.  During the trial this unit was shown when the LAPD were called to the penthouse for a domestic violence disturbance – twice the same night, because of a complaint made by the same person who was in New York City at the time – Amber’s then best friend named - I.O.

    The penthouse entrance leads to the dining area with the green banquette that leads to the kitchen area with the black subway tile.

   

Another view of the kitchen.

 

The opposite side of the kitchen island.

The living area, which was seen on the police video tape.

Another view of the living room.

Amber’s bedroom.

The bathroom in Amber and Johnny’s penthouse is much more vibrant, like the apartment, than the other bathrooms.

The balcony off Amber’s penthouse.

The view of Amber’s garden in the back and penthouse #2’s in the foreground.

Want to see something really interesting and strange?   What is inside that large area above the penthouses? 

Look under the Eastern sign – where the gold windows are.  What is inside there?  The penthouses are the row of windows above the greenery.  So what is inside the gold brickwork which reaches several floors high?  Air conditioner?  What?  Not a parking garage.

I looked it up on Google Maps and you can see right down inside that tower.  Look below:

Next to the pool, above the penthouses inside the gold brick tower.  It looks like a mess of twisted iron.  What IS it???  Anyone know?  You can also see two of Depp’s gardens off the penthouses at the side of the tower.

Besides all the testimony at the trial about the Eastern Columbia penthouses, there was constant talk about Johnny’s house at 1486 N. Sweetzer.   The house is right off Sunset Blvd. and down the street from the Chateau Marmont.   This was the house where Johnny would go to escape the fights between him and Amber.  Amber said it was actually where he would go to hide out away from her and drink and do drugs.  During the trial, a long video was played over and over again of a drunk Depp – slamming the glass doors in the kitchen of the Sweetzer house. 

           

Here is the Sweetzer house’s kitchen with the green cabinets and the waiter styled arched door. 

The Sweetzer house is part of a compound, famous in Hollywood lore.   Located on a cul de sac, Johnny bought five houses on the street that he still owns.  His mother lived in one of those houses.   His children spent time in this house and went to school in L.A. – when they weren’t living in France, that is.  All the Sweetzer houses are said to be worth around 19 million.  At one time, Depp was planning on digging a tunnel between the houses.

There is quite a story behind this Sweetzer house, once known erroneously as “Dracula’s Castle.”

   The story, perpetrated by Hollywood Tour Guides, was that the Dracula actor Bela Lugosi lived in the large castle above Sunset Boulevard, which is the house Depp now owns.  Lugosi never did live there.

   Originally the house was entered at 8311 Sunset Blvd., but after a large hotel was built there in front of the house, the back servant’s entrance off Sweetzer became the main entryway. 

Here is the Depp castle, with its original entrance on Sunset Blvd.  The house sits 90 feet above Sunset.  Today, those gates are long gone.  But the stone stairs and retaining walls remain, albeit hidden behind all the trees.

 

 

Here is a Christmas Card from the original owner of Depp’s castle,  Hersee Carson – known as The Fairy Lady for her philanthropy for children, mostly Chinese immigrants.  Notice the neatly clipped landscaping. 

Here at the  very upper left of the photo, you can see the Castle sitting above a vacant lot where the front gates once were.  The castle was built on 4 acres of a eucalyptus grove, but the city later reduced its lot to 2.66 acres.   Johnny planted his own forest of bamboo trees to hide the house from fans.

An early photo of the castle. 

The house, originally known as Mount Kalmia, was built by a once dirt poor miner with a second grade education named George Campbell Carson.  Having spent 30 years mining, Carson had invented a smelting furnace whose patent was stolen by several copper companies.   He sued and the case was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court – Carson won $20 million, worth $300 million today.    With that fortune he found a gold digging wife, a widow named Hersee Moody, who had the  idea to build the castle.

The castle was and still is exotic, even for Hollywood standards. It is decorated with battlements, turrets, and towers.   It cost $500,000 to build and it took six years to complete.  The miner, Carson, died just a year after it was finished.  

The castle was large with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, a music room, solarium, library, morning reading-room, coffee room, nursery, a billiard room, refectory, butler’s pantry, grocery and laundry rooms, and elaborate quarters for the maids and chauffeurs.  In order to give the feeling the house was built on terraced land – there are 12 levels inside.  The staircases were three stories tall, lit by stained glass windows.  Other windows in the house were behind iron grills.  All the wood moldings were hand carved and some walls were covered by hand painted murals.  The living room was decorated with original Louis XVI furniture while the dining room was filled with original Hepplewhite. 

After Carson died, Hersee won the house in a battle with his large family, but not much of his money.  The widow lived in the house for another year, but in order to pay the city taxes,  she had a large sale of the art and antiques.  She then sold the house and moved out, dying in 1972 at the age of 93.

 

  Hersee Carson shown in the castle, selling off art and antiques to pay the  taxes on the estate. Here, a three-piece set of royal blue Sèvres porcelain was sold.   Notice the wood paneling.  

 

 
 

Another photo of the castle.   Marie-François-Firmin Girard’s art work,  entitled "Woman at the Well."

And,  art work by Vicente Palmaroli y González.  Notice the arched niche, you will see another one in the house, years later.

After Hersee moved out, the house was bought by the city and rented out to a former burlesque dancer who turned it into a rooming house.  When the city kicked the ex dancer out, her 38 tenants were also evicted!!

 

The sheriff’s men come to evict the 38 roomers.

The castle was finally sold for just $83,000 in 1947 to a dentist who lived there until he died.

In this photo from the 1950s, you can the castle high above Sunset – right in the middle of the picture.

In later years, a friend of Howard Hughes lived in the castle and then Motown’s Berry Gordy lived there in the 60s and 70s.  Before Johnny Depp bought the house for $2.3 million in 1995, the famous Hollywood divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson lived there. Mitchelson, who invented the concept of palimony,  lived in the castle until he was bankrupted following a tax fraud conviction.  He died in 2004 aged 76 after serving two years in prison for the tax fraud.  Johnny Depp bought the house and remodeled it, adding scores of bamboo trees to hide the castle from the street.  He rented the house in 2oo7 to actor Orlando Bloom.

             

 

Today, this building on Sunset blocks the original entrance to the Castle.  You can barely see through the trees the stone staircases and retaining walls that lead up to the house.  Notice the red tiled roofed small houses on Sweetzer.  Depp owns those too, creating a compound on this cul de sac.

      

And today, showing the same side of the house seen before.  Lots of construction work was going on at the time.

The other side of the house. 

  Amber’s muscle car seen in the carport after the divorce.

This shows what was the original front entrance with the red steps leading to the castle.  Notice all the original white iron work on the windows. 

         

  Another view of the former front entrance. 

And a view of what was once the back of the house – now the front.

     

Another view of the back – notice the pool AND the pond leading from the pool.

 

    The side of the house. The original front entrance is where the red steps are.   Notice the stone steps leading down from the carport into the bamboo forest.

The entrance gates off Sweetzer.  This is all you will see if you drive down Sweetzer to get a glimpse of the Depp castle.

The gates and the steps that lead up to the house.

 

  The stairs.   

 

Mr. Palimony Marvin Mitchelson and his wife and two Rolls Royces.  He actually had four.

 

At the former front of the house – with the original iron  windows.

Outside on a terrace at the Castle with an Oriental style chair, probably original.  Hersee loved Oriental art.

 

A rare photo from inside the castle showing the stained glass windows with birds, a motif that Hersee used over and over again.  Notice the Tiffany styled lamp, probably original.  Depp has one in his green kitchen.  And notice the arched niche – the same design seen before in the photo of Hersee’s art auction at the castle.

 

The bedroom in one of the front rotundas, judging by the window seen in the mirror.

The master bath.  I think the tile design is original.  Much is written about the tile work in the house, and out.   The décor is so cheesy!  The 80s!!!

There are so few photos from Depp’s time at the house.  Here is a painting he worked on outside the castle.  

   

     The green kitchen with the Tiffany styled light.  I doubt there was much renovation done here, maybe just the appliances.

There  are other houses that were discussed at the trial.  One, above, is the carriage house in NYC where Johnny and Kate Moss once lived.

The carriage house with the stairs that Amber claimed Johnny pushed Kate down.  At trial Moss denied this and said she slipped while Johnny was outside.

   

  

And there was the 41-acre horse farm outside Lexington, Kentucky, that Johnny bought, sold, bought and sold again where his mother sometimes lived when she didn’t live at Sweetzer.

 

After Depp and Vanessa parted, he bought this house in LA for her and the kids to live in.

 Vanessa’s house is Tuscan style – this furniture is how it looked when the house was bought.  I would love to see her own style.  Is it as exotic and chaotic as Johnny’s?

          

The luxurious Coomera property, known as Diamond Head Estate, is where Depp and Amber stayed in Australia.  And yes.  This is where his lost part of his finger.   Evidence was recently released that at the time it happened, Amber’s sister claimed Amber was the one who caused the accident.

No photos of the infamous bar!!

  

It’s also where the couple’s infamous two tea cup Yorkie dogs were held under house arrest after they were smuggled them into Australia illegally.

Oy!

It just never ends!!

And one last house.  After the divorce, Amber recently bought this house in the desert:

Full of atmosphere, it looks like New Mexico, but it is Yucca Valley in California.

Inside, concrete floors and tree form columns.

The back yard looks onto this bridge and mountain.  It’s pretty spectacular.  It was reported that Amber has recently sold this house.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this look at the houses of the trial of the century!