After nearly 60 years, the family is parting with the historic Los Angeles property, which has only had two owners—the other was a cofounder of CBS.
Of all the deals Rick Hilton has closed in his 30-plus years in luxury real estate, no property hits close to home than the one his brokerage firm is listing on November 30. The Beverly Hills developer and cofounder at Hilton & Hyland is putting the primary residence of his late father, W. Barron Hilton, on the market for $75 million. The son and successor to Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad Hilton, Barron pledged 97% of his wealth in 2007 to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, run by his other son, Steven. This storied home was among the 3% the onetime billionaire held onto.
But when one front door closes, another one (with massive, handcrafted, double-paneled millwork) opens. To add to the sentimentality of the sale, Rick Hilton is listing the family home with his son, the aptly named Barron N. Hilton. The 31-year-old joined his father’s luxury brokerage two years ago and this sale signifies the real estate scion’s commitment to the family business.
“I’d say this is the biggest deal and the most special of my career,” says Barron. “Being able to handle my grandfather’s listing alongside my father is really special and something I’m enjoying very much.”
Nestled in the heart of tony Holmby Hills, the exterior marries classic Bel-Air style with traditional English Georgian architecture. Past the wrought-iron gates, two circular driveway paths lead to a grand motor court, bringing you face-to-face with the Hiltons’ Brooklawn Estate and its white brick façade. The double doors open to a modernist interior. Your eyes are instantly drawn to a framed picture window that offers a view of the expansive great lawn, as well as the pool house, which appeared on the cover of Architectural Digest in 1933, in the distance.
“I have so many childhood memories—from birthday parties on the great lawn to Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties,” says Barron, “and every time I drive up to that driveway it all comes flooding back to me.”
The 15,000-square-foot estate is the crown jewel of residential works by renowned American architect Paul R. Williams, a pioneering Black architect, who also designed homes for Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Jay Paley, whose family founded the Congress Cigar Company and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), commissioned Williams in 1935. The cost to build the house was estimated at $100,000 (or about $1.8 million today.) Upon Paley’s death in 1961, the estate was subdivided but the house and bulk of the land was sold to Barron Hilton. The hotel magnate, who raised his family and lived there until his death last year at the age of 91, began his hotelier career as an elevator operator at father Conrad Hilton’s (d. 1972) El Paso Hilton. Initially resisting following in his dad’s footsteps, he founded Carte Blanche Credit Card, Air Finance Corporation and AFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, and helped negotiate the merger with NFL to create the Super Bowl. He returned to Hilton Hotels, and was named president and CEO in 1966.
“We’ve never done structural changes to the house, which really shows how Paul Williams was way ahead of his time,” says Rick Hilton. Historical photos from the Paul R. Williams Project show the estate remains true to Williams’ original floor plans and vision. Rick points to the metal sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling paneled windows, which in this size and magnitude were rare in 1935.
He also points to the circular breakfast room, another Williams staple, which spills into a rotunda topped with a conical roof. “The rotunda is one of the trademark designs of the house and I’ll always remember sitting out there, having breakfast in the morning,” he says. The long terraces, extensive courtyards and ornamental koi ponds welcome something we all crave more than ever these days: indoor-outdoor living.
Inside, the 12-bedroom, 11-bathroom house features several grand entertaining rooms, including a step-down living room and formal dining room. But one of the smallest rooms on-site may pack the most prestige for a future buyer: the executive office. With built-in hardwood and pine library shelving, the 200-square-foot room once served as the study of not just one, but two legendary business magnates.
“With my father and Paley as the only two owners in the past 60 years, its lineage puts this house in a category of its own,” says Rick Hilton.
He adds, “The desk in that office was given to him by my great grandfather, Conrad Hilton, and then my grandfather left it to my dad and most recently my dad said he would be leaving it to me.”
But when it comes to naming the best selling point of the entire property, the father-and-son team agrees there is no contest. “The pool is really spectacular,” Rick says. “It was painted in France and brought here piece by piece. It’s a real knockout.”
Williams was the mastermind behind the Zodiac Pool; its ornate flooring consists of thousands of hand-painted, multi-colored tiles. The mosaic details all 12 astrological signs with a Grecian palette of turquoise, sky and platinum blues. A cameo of rich yellow fills in the sun, the focal point of the masterpiece, as well as its rays that extend across the pool’s nearly Olympic length.
And if these grounds could talk, the family knows there are plenty of stories. Rick recalls some of the most legendary parties at the estate were hosted outdoors on the lawn and tennis courts, with tents for more than 1,000 guests. They typically gathered for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, but toasts relating to business victories were often on the agenda. “One that comes to mind was when I sold the Beverly Hilton to Merv Griffin,” he says, recalling a landmark 1987 sale. “During a speech he said, ‘Conrad Hilton touched many lives—and he touched mine for more than $100 million.’ And the guests loved that, they went wild.”
Barron N., who previously worked as vice president of marketing at Bernstein Equity Partners, acknowledges being the son of the cofounder and a member of the Hilton Hotels family has accelerated his transition from finance to real estate. “Growing up in a fortunate background, my parents took us all over the world,” he says, “and I was able to appreciate the architecture of different homes.”
Hilton fils also admits that watching his father do business his entire life is perhaps the biggest advantage of all. “Just seeing how he works with people, he’s universal, he’s likable, no ego and he knows more about real estate than anyone,” says Barron, who became a new dad earlier this year. “My father started this with his partner and I want to carry on this legacy.”
“As any father wants, I’d liked to see him succeed and he’s taken it very seriously,” says Rick, who founded the brokerage in 1993 with Jeff Hyland. The duo has since grown the business to 140 agents and roughly $3.6 billion in sales a year, though it’s hard to imagine a more personal listing. “It’s emotional, no doubt,” says Rick Hilton, “but we have so many fond memories and it’s time to move on.” Adds Barron: “We got some decent mileage and it’s time to find a new family for this incredible home.”
Story written by Forbes