Is It A Home? Is It A Gallery?

Sonya Roth’s Hancock Park house has a Hollywood pedigree, but she made it a work of art by filling it with pieces by the L.A. artists she came to love as deputy chairman of Christie’s

Photography by JESSICA SAMPLE


The 1927 Spanish Colonial-style home of Christie’s executive Sonya Roth.


Sonya Roth’s Hancock Park residence was built in 1927 for actor Paul Muni. Star of the original Scarface in 1932, Muni garnered five Academy Award nominations throughout his career, and won for Best Actor in 1937. The story goes that the first Oscars after-party took place at the Spanish Colonial-style house.

While the home’s first inhabitant helped usher in an era of Los Angeles being a one-industry town, its current owner represents a new breed of arbiters who are making the city’s culture more inclusive of other forms of art.

An art collector and a former deputy attorney general for the state of California, Roth is a deputy chairman of Christie’s, overseeing the entire Western region. Her professional home base is the company’s sleek, two-story flagship in Beverly Hills, designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast, which debuted in 2017. It includes a terrace for receptions and a gallery space for hosting events and previews, including a sneak peek of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s $1 billion art collection this fall (Oct. 11-15)before its New York auction in November. “I feel so blessed and so lucky that I’m always around great creativity,” says the powerhouse executive of her job.


“The collection is really L.A.-centric. It’s like a dialogue of Los Angeles”

sonya roth


Sonya Roth at home in Hancock Park.


Art, especially works by L.A.-based artists, plays a big role in Roth’s life at home as well. The entry room—with works by Hollywood Babylon author and avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, ceramicist Shio Kusaka and Alex Israel, known for his smog-meets-sunset pastel canvases—is an homage to the city she loves. “It’s like a dialogue of Los Angeles,” says Roth, who grew up in Pacific Palisades. “The collection is really L.A.-centric.”

Roth—a mom to three kids: Anabel, 12, Coco, 9, and Henry, 5—bought the house five years ago with her late husband, Josh Roth, an art lawyer and the former head of United Talent Agency’s Fine Arts division. The renovation of the six-bedroom residence lasted a year, with an overarching aim of creating more clean spaces to display artwork. That meant removing numerous chandeliers and sconces that weren’t original, refinishing the dark wood floors to their natural raw oak and taking out unnecessary columns and moldings. Nearly every surface was changed, with the walls painted a gallery-like bright white. And yet, while the front rooms are more formal, the home also has kid-friendly areas such as a family TV room, a garage that’s been turned into a playroom, and a large backyard with a deck that Roth recently had redone.


From left: Furnishings include Mathieu Matégot nesting tables from designer Cliff Fong’s Galerie Half, a Woven rug, an antique English long table and a Sterling Ruby ceramic atop a Karl Springer coffee table. Opposite: In the sitting room, a painting by Will Boone hangs next to a Serge Mouille wall sconce. Roth stands in front of Rashid Johnson’s 22nd of July in her Hancock Park home.


A seating area by the kitchen features a Larry Johnson painting, an 18th-century Swedish table and Jean Prouvé chairs.


From left: Roth tapped interior designers Sarah Shetter and Cliff Fong on the interiors. Paul McCarthy’s Violet Bear, Pink hangs above a fireplace with tile from Exquisite Surfaces. Items include a stool and coffee table by Charlotte Perriand, a Børge Mogensen sofa, Arredoluce Triennale floor lamp and a colorful painting by Stanley Whitney.


Roth’s choices in design, such as a rare biomorphic Karl Springer coffee table in the living room, are as carefully considered as her art acquisitions. “I really want every piece to be special,” says Roth, who worked with interior designers Sarah Shetter and Cliff Fong on the home, bringing together decor from various eras. For example, the dining room is a clever mix of 1960s Italian wall sconces, 1960s Arne Jacobsen Seagull chairs with original leather, a Serge Mouille ceiling fixture, a Rick Owens dining table, an antique Swedish commode, African bowls and contemporary art. The wood paneling is made from quartersawn French oak, creating mesmerizing patterns, while the original doors were stripped of layers of paint—mostly. “We just left them a little gunky, [unfinished and patinaed] in the corners,” says Roth, who similarly loves the black-and-white antique marble flooring installed in the entry for its hand-chipped edges and “rough” look. The floor’s pattern is based on one Roth saw “in a lovely castle in Belgium.”


“There’s such a willingness to go out and see things and do things. The energy has definitely returned [to L.A.]”

sonya roth


Roth and her three children enjoy the backyard.


Always on the lookout for inspiration, Roth says she’s looking forward to a number of art exhibits this fall in Los Angeles, including a retrospective of the work of L.A.-based artist Henry Taylor at MOCA (opening Nov. 6) and Cy Twombly’s Making Past Present exhibit at the Getty Center (through Oct. 30). She also points to the opening of ever more galleries in L.A. by blue-chip dealers (including Pace, Lisson, David Zwirner, Marian Goodman, Karma and Sean Kelly) as a further testament to the rise of the city as an art capital. “There’s such a willingness to go out and see things and do things,” says Roth of the state of the art world in L.A. in 2022. “The energy has definitely returned.”



Feature image: In the living room, two pieces by Will Boone—Soldier and Reagan Mask—complement the Jean Prouvé daybed, Kaare Klint sofa, Mansour rug and custom ceiling fixture by Paul Ferrante. A Pierre Jeanneret chair and Shio Kusaka vase sit in front of the staircase.


This story originally appeared in the Fashionable Living 2022 issue of C Magazine.

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