Properties / Homes

The USD 48.5M Wave House in Malibu is Up For Sale

With stunning, curved roof eaves and a sea-facing balcony, the Wave House cuts a striking figure along Malibu beach.

Jun 13, 2023 | By Joe Lim

In Malibu, California, a USD 49.5 million architectural wonder that honours the beauty of the ocean has gone on the market. The amazing six-bedroom home, also known as Wave House, was created in the 1950s by visionary architect Harry Gesner. The home’s aesthetic was said to be inspired by the Sydney Opera House.

Wave House

Wave House in Malibu was designed to resemble a cresting wave. Photo: Simon Berlyn. Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Legend has it that Gesner spent several days camped out at the location when he had the idea for the unusual 6,200 square foot home that rests on less than an acre of oceanfront ground. He immersed himself in the natural environs and watched the waves as they ebbed and flowed. He is reported to have developed the home’s blueprints while surfing one of those waves, drawing them with a grease pencil directly on his surfboard. At high tide, he imagined Wave House to stretch into the surf, fusing with the ocean, with projecting rooflines that resembled breaking waves.

Revolutionary Design

Wave House

Exterior view of Wave House in Malibu. Photo: Simon Berlyn. Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

The house, which was initially created for Gesner’s friends and fellow surfers Gerry and Glenn Coope, was a radical departure from standard 1950s architecture with its curving walls, beams, and cantilevered roofs. However, the undertaking was an immediate success and contributed to Gesner’s rise to prominence in the mid-century California Modern movement.

Harry Gesner’s ascent to international fame was aided by Wave House, which attracted the interest of Jrn Utzon, the Danish architect responsible for the iconic Sydney Opera House. Zen Gesner, one of the listing agents and Harry Gesner’s son, claims that Utzon personally got in touch with Gesner to praise the home’s brilliance and acknowledge its effect 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 Wall Street Journal. “Most architects are egomaniacs. They don’t tend to tip their hat to any other architect.”

Star-studded Musical Past

Wave House

Exterior view of Wave House in Malibu. Photo: Simon Berlyn. Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

The musician Rod Stewart bought Wave House in the 1970s. The British singer was a nice neighbor, according to Zen Gesner, who grew up next door in a building called Sandcastle House that his father also created. Zen Gesner recalls the rock star as frequently dancing on the property’s rail-free decks. Wave House underwent a number of improvements by Stewart, including the addition of railings and substantial concrete piers for added support.

Mo Ostin, a music industry executive who oversaw Warner Brothers Records for many years, most recently owned Wave House. In addition, he was a renowned art collector. Earlier last month in New York, a significant Sotheby’s evening auction featuring his blue-chip collection brought in USD 123.7 million (all but one object sold).

Wave House

The architect of Wave House lived next door in Sandcastle (left). Photo: Simon Berlyn. Courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Any of the 15 lots from the Mo Ostin sale that were hung in Wave House is unknown. Following the architect’s passing in 2022, the same year that Mo Ostin passed away at the age of 95, the listing comes less than a month after the nearby Sandcastle House went on the market for USD 27.5 million. Zen Gesner hopes that one bidder will purchase the two properties, protecting the twin cornerstones of Malibu’s architectural heritage.

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