Castillo del Lago; former home of Bugsy Siegel and Madonna


LaLaland, aka Los Angeles, might strike most as a pit hole of concrete, cars, faux boobs and Chihuahuas with diamond necklaces…. Well, this pretty much is true, but Los Angeles is also home to quite a few historical and architectural landmarks. Not to mention the many natural preserves surrounding the city, and some even to be found within the city limits. The Hollywood hills for one is an area that resembles Andalusiawith lush green shrubs on dry sandy rocks in sweltering sun and a cooling ocean breeze coming in from the ocean shore a few miles away. It’s only the fog drenched views of downtown LA that give its true location away. Here, on top of a hill, risesthe majestic facade of one of Los Angeles’ main architectural gems; Castillo del Lago. If you have $15.000.000 hidden in a sock under your mattress, you might be in luck; the Castillo is reportedly going to be on the market soon……

Castillo del Lago

Castillo del Lago


The legendary fortress like estate sits perched atop a hill in the Hollywood hills, overlooking Griffith Park and Lake Hollywood. The mansion was designed and built by John DeLario. This is the same guy hired in the 1920 to design the new 500-acre real estate development known as Hollywoodland. This is what the Hollywood sign spelled originally. The Castillo has views of this other Los Angeles landmark still today.

Castillo del Lago with the Hollywood sign in the back

Castillo del Lago with the Hollywood sign in the back



The house reportedly boasts a mere 9 bedrooms, and 7 bathrooms. Surprisingly few for the nine stories the structure houses. It was Bugsy Siegel’s hideaway and gambling parlor in the 1930’s (there are rumored to be bullet holes in the woodwork) until police conducted a raid entering from a neighbor’s house. In the 1950s, the house was left abandoned and in a sad state of disrepair. At one point it caught fire which was believed to have been the works of vandals. After a few years, a French aristocrat with the romantic name Baron Patrick de Selys-Longchamps, dared to take a risk and bought the property. However, it was the people that bought it next that restored the house in its original glory. The owners after that sold it to Kabbalah Queen Esther aka Madonna in 1993. She made sure that is original glory was soon a distant memory turning the majestic Andalusian manor into a Barbie-on-acid fake Italian Mansion. With her decorator-turned-sister bashing book writerbrother Christopher, the house was redone to fit her needs and peculiar taste. Parts of the exterior were painted in bright red and yellow horizontal stripes and the original roof tiles were replaced with new ones. This mortified her neighbours, in particular architecture writer, real estate king and next door neighbour Crosby Doe. In a 2004 Times Online article he is quoted saying: “She wrecked it. They took the historic tiles off the roof, threw them in a dumpster and put on these Taco Bell tiles. It was one desecration after another.”

Mister Doe and his neighbours must have been pleased when Madge decided to move on and sell the place in 1996. This was not long after one of her security staff shot a deranged man trying to climb through one of the windows on the large towering walls of the property.  That is maybe a catch if there is one; there’s a hiking trail directly next to the house. Seems like Madge has a thing with properties accessible by hikers actually. Her English manor Ashcombe House is haunted my not only ghosts but hikers too as it is right next to  hiking trail too….

Madonna didn’t hit it large with flipping Castillo del Lago.  Having bought it for about $3m, she sold it three years later for the same amount despite having spent about $500,000 on it. Joe Pytka, an advertising director, bought it from her and has owned it since.

Wonder if the current crisis has anything to do with it. I have felt more sorry for people than for mister Pytka. I think with $15.000.000 in his account he can sit out this financial hick-up very comfortably.


One response to “Castillo del Lago; former home of Bugsy Siegel and Madonna

  1. Wow. Just call me Barbie, cause
    I REALLY love this house. Now for that 15 mil….

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