An architectural marvel that pays homage to the majesty of the ocean has hit the market in Malibu, California, with an asking price of $49.5 million. Known as Wave House, the remarkable six-bedroom residence was designed in the 1950s by visionary architect Harry Gesner.
According to lore, when Gesner conceived of the unique 6,200-square-foot abode that sits on less than an acre of beachfront land, he camped out at the site for several days, immersing himself in the natural surroundings and observing the waves as they ebbed and flowed. It was on one of those waves that he’s said to have sketched when he made the plans for the home, marking it right on his surfboard with a grease pencil. He envisioned Wave House as extending into the surf at high tide, becoming one with the water, with projecting rooflines resembling breaking waves.
With its curved walls and beams, as well as its cantilevered roofs, the home—originally designed for Gesner’s friends and fellow surfers Gerry and Glenn Coope—was a radical departure from traditional architecture of the 1950s. Yet the project found immediate success and helped establish Gesner as a leading figure in the midcentury California Modern movement.
Wave House became the springboard for Harry Gesner’s rise to international acclaim, drawing the attention of Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect behind the iconic Sydney Opera House. According to Zen Gesner, Harry’s son and one of the listing agents, Utzon personally contacted Gesner, extolling the home’s ingenuity and acknowledging its influence on the Australian landmark.
“My dad was totally blown away that this architect was going out of his way to reach out to him and compliment him on his design,” the younger Gesner told the . “Most architects are egomaniacs. They don’t tend to tip their hat to any other architect.”
In the 1970s, Wave House was purchased by the musician Rod Stewart. Zen Gesner, who grew up next door in a structure known as Sandcastle House that his father also designed, remembers the British rocker as a great neighbor who clearly enjoyed the property, often dancing on its rail-less decks. Stewart made several modifications to Wave House, including adding railings and installing large concrete piers for extra support.
Most recently, Wave House was owned by Mo Ostin, the music executive who spearheaded Warner Brothers Records for decades. He was also an art collector of the highest order. His blue-chip collection was the subject of a major Sotheby’s evening auction earlier this month in New York that totaled $123.7 million (all but one lot sold). It’s unclear if any of the 15 lots in the Mo Ostin sale were ever hung in Wave House.
The listing comes less than a month after the adjacent Sandcastle House came on the market for $27.5 million, following the architect’s death in 2022, the same year that Mo Ostin died, at the age of 95. Zen Gesner hopes the two homes will be acquired by one buyer, preserving twin pillars of Malibu’s architectural history.
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