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Arts and Entertainment

Stahl House Siblings & Documentary Filmmaker Are Suing Each Other

Case Study House #22 (Photo by Michael Locke via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The owners of the famous Stahl House are suing the filmmaker behind a documentary about the house. Filmmaker Steven Slomkowski had intended to make a film titled Nobody Famous Ever Lived Here about the iconic house, also known as Case Study House #22. Designed by Pierre Koenig, this gorgeous midcentury modern home was made famous by its many appearances in TV and film, and notable photos by Julius Shulman.

Slomkowski met with the three children of the home's original owner, Buck and Carlotta Stahl, in December of 2012: Shari, Bruce and Mark Stahl. Slomkowski told Modernism Week that all agreed that work on a film and book would begin in January of 2013. However, Slomkowski abandoned the film after Mark Stahl killed himself in November of 2013, Curbed LA reports. Slomkowski filed a suit against Bruce and Shari Stahl in 2014, alleging that the siblings were the reason the film was never made. Now, the Stahls are countersuing Slomkowski.

In Slomkowski's suit, he alleges that the siblings denied the completion of the project because they dislike gay people (Slomkowski is gay), and were ashamed of their brother's suicide and their father's behavior, according to Courthouse News. The suit accused the siblings of a "desire to exact control, revenge and harm to Slomkowski because he was gay." The suit further alleged that Buck Stahl was an alcoholic and homophobic, and that Mark had been gay, but not open about his sexuality.

According to Slomkowski's lawsuit, "Mark never married and lived a secretive, conflicted existence balancing the 'values' of hatred and homophobia instilled in him by his father with the reality of his sexuality."

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He also accused the Stalhs of not reimbursing him for over $131,000 in production costs.

Bruce and Shari Stahl are now countersuing Slomkowski, saying that not only are his statements "absolutely false, inaccurate and inflammatory," but he also tried to blackmail them while he was making the documentary.

If you look at the Stahl House website, a statement about Slomkowski's project appears on the home page:

We want to thank everyone for their interest in our book and documentary film projects. Unfortunately, we have elected not to proceed with the projects. No permissions have been granted, to any person, company, or organization, for the use of any Stahl family copyrighted material and usage rights to our project titles "Nobody Famous Ever Lived Here" and "22: The Inside Story of the Stahl House".

Thank you,
The Stahl Family

A 2009 article in the L.A. Times talked about how the Stahl children used to roller skate on the floors of the magnificent home. Mark Stahl then told the Times:
When you're a kid, you don't think of the house you live in as being anything unusual. I first began to think of it as something special in junior high when the film companies rented the house to shoot movies. Then later, after bus tours of architects from all over the world began coming, the architectural importance of our home began to sink in.

Buck Stahl was a professional football player before taking a job as a purchasing agent for Hughes Aircraft. He bought the land in 1954, built retaining walls from broken concrete salvaged from construction sites, and brought Koenig on board in 1957. The house was complete in 1960. Buck Stahl died in 2005, and the family has long refused to sell the home.

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