Wild story of Johnny Depp’s castle in West Hollywood

Among the many shocking pieces of evidence in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard is a video the actress secretly recorded at the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s West Hollywood home.

In it, Depp, now 58, can be seen kicking, punching and slamming kitchen cabinets and screaming “Motherf-ker” in the home’s Gothic kitchen – a recreation of a West Hollywood Bavarian castle that looks more like the set of a horror film, crammed with turrets, towers and battlements.

For Hollywood movie buffs hoping to marvel at the quirky castle on Sweetzer Avenue near the famous Sunset Strip, it’s practically invisible — tucked away on a cul-de-sac, behind lush foliage and trees planted for privacy. Only the entrance gate can be seen from the street.

That doesn’t stop tour buses from hauling crowds of fans to the gawk, though.

“We got these vans with the top down and people are talking and cheering and screaming and it was annoying,” John Ryan, 63, who has lived on the street there for 28 years, told The Post.

Johnny Depp's Castle in West Hollywood
This West Hollywood ‘castle’, once famous for elite parties, fell into disrepair until Depp bought the property in 1996. It’s hardly there, but neighbors are upset with all the attention it’s getting.
NY Post photocomposite; Getty Images
The house is a replica of a Bavarian castle and is set on four acres of grounds.
The house is a replica of a Bavarian castle and is set on four acres of grounds.
Getty Images

As strange as it is to see a Gothic castle surrounded by LaLa Land palm trees, even stranger is the property’s history.

Depp bought the castle from the stars’ flamboyant attorney for $2.3 million in 1995 — including pioneering the claim for “alimony” in a landmark case against actor Lee Marvin through his live-in girlfriend — Marvin Mitchelson. The late lawyer, who had a widely acclaimed jet-set lifestyle, had transformed the castle’s interior into an ornate setting.

Mitchelson, who also represented Tony Curtis and Sonny Bono, lost the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom estate, which spanned four acres, in bankruptcy after being convicted of tax fraud that resulted in him serving two years in federal prison . He died in 2004 at the age of 76.

“After Mitchelson lost the lock,” recalled neighbor Ryan, “it fell into disrepair. When Johnny Depp bought it, he spent quite a bit of time renovating it, driving in huge trees to hide it completely. Over the years he bought the five or six houses in the district and he uses one of them as a recording studio. Back then he was throwing money away like crazy.”

Neighbor John Ryan is fed up with traffic and the constant gawking of tourists.
Neighbor John Ryan is fed up with traffic and the constant gawking of tourists.
John Chapple/www.JohnChaple.com

The castle was designed in 1931 and built over six years by Hersee Moody Carson, an eccentric former Louisiana schoolteacher who became wealthy thanks to her third and fourth husbands.

Number three, Beverly Hills businessman Peter Gross, committed suicide after being blackmailed by his housekeeper over an affair they were having together.

Carson then married George Campbell Carson, a second-grade educated miner who achieved his millionaire status after spending nearly two decades in court fighting mining companies over a patent infringement. He won $20 million from them in 1925.

Hersee went on a shopping spree, buying art and antiques — including Louis XVI furniture and Hepplewhite cabinets — for the castle, which she named “Mount Kalmia” in honor of a mountain laurel flower.

Lawyers such as Marvin Mitchelson, Motown founder Berry Gordy and Orlando Bloom have lived in the home over the years.
Lawyers such as Marvin Mitchelson, Motown founder Berry Gordy and Orlando Bloom have lived in the home over the years.
Corbis via Getty Images

According to Los Angeles real estate agent and researcher James Colin Campbell, who has researched the castle’s history, Hersee “hired 100 workers to build the three-story, 7,500-square-foot castle, which she designed herself over time. No expense was spared.”

Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper, and an underground conveyor belt that ran from the street to the kitchen for deliveries. After the castle was completed in 1933, Hersee divorced Carson, who died the following year after squeezing her from his will. She sued his Carson family heirs and won a settlement.

But it was too late: In the early years of World War II, the city of Los Angeles bought the house for $9,000 after Hersee defaulted on her taxes. (She died in 1972, aged 93.) It was then leased to a burlesque dancer, who turned it into a boarding house with 38 tenants, including a comedy writer for Bob Hope.

Depp bought the castle in 1995 for $2.3 million.
Depp bought the castle in 1995 for $2.3 million.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

For years the castle was rumored to be the eerie abode of Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi, famous for his portrayal of Count Dracula, but that was fiction concocted by tour guides to generate business and interest.

In the 1950s, the site was occupied by billionaire Howard Hughes’ right-hand man, Noah Dietrich, who ran the germaphobe’s film empire. Dietrich ran RKO Pictures and TWA Airlines, and Hughes reportedly hired him to “make me the richest man in the world.” It is not known how much he paid or how long he lived there – all apparently part of the secrecy surrounding him and his boss.

In the ’70s, the castle was the site of swanky parties — with up to 400 revelers — hosted by then-owner Berry Gordy, the Motown legend who helped make the likes of Diana Ross famous (he also secretly fathered her daughter Rhonda).

Heard preferred living in Depp's penthouse collection rather than the castle.
Heard preferred living in Depp’s penthouse collection rather than the castle.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the castle’s popularity for generations, it was apparently not Heard’s business, according to a document used as evidence at the trial. The letter from a former attorney for Heard threatened to serve Depp with a restraining order if he didn’t continue to let the now 36-year-old actress live rent-free in three of his penthouses in a hip building in downtown Los Angeles.

The actor acquired a collection of five penthouses in the art deco Eastern Columbia Building for more than $7 million between 2007 and 2008. During their tumultuous two-year association, Heard moved into his different apartments with Depp. but it was rare for the couple to stay in the castle or anywhere else for very long.

At one point, Depp’s “Pirate” co-star Orlando Bloom moved into the castle for a period of time.

Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper, and an underground conveyor belt that ran from the street to the kitchen for deliveries.
Amenities included 125 stained glass windows, hand-painted wallpaper, and an underground conveyor belt that ran from the street to the kitchen for deliveries.

Depp also owns a fully stocked French Village — with its own skate park and bistro — that’s now up for sale for $55 million. He has a 100-acre ranch in his home state of Kentucky, a 150-year-old mansion in England, and his own island in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, West Hollywood Castle continues to draw tourists — even if Ryan, the neighbor, has tried to dissuade them.

“As Mr. Depp’s neighbor, I beg you not to go there!” he once posted on TripAdvisor.com. “Everything you do is harass everyone in the area for no payoff! I’ve lived across the street since Mr. Depp moved in many years ago and I saw him ONCE! Trust me you won’t see him, his house, his kids, his wife, his dogs.”

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