How California’s Hidden Hills Became a Celebrity Hotspot

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Bauer-Griffin
Home to Kardashians, Madonna, Kevin Durant, Prince Johann George V, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Kris Jenner, The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne amongst other professional athletes, musicians, and more A-listers, the gated city has gone from rural equestrian community to uber-elite enclave.
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For a city with a population that hovers around just 2,000 residents, Hidden Hills, California, has more than its fair share of lore. Located roughly 30 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, Hidden Hills first gained broader name recognition in the aughts, itself and the neighboring city of Calabasas riding the Kardashians’ coattails to fame. The first three seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (which aired from 2007 to 2021) were filmed at Kris and Caitlyn Jenner’s 3,900-square-foot family home in Hidden Hills, per the LA Times, but the attention on the area grew as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner personalized their own pads in the city in the ’10s. (Over the years, various members of the famous family have bought and sold numerous dwellings in both Hidden Hills and Calabasas.) In the years since, the city’s popularity among A-listers has only grown, along with its notoriety among their fans.

Hidden Hills was developed in 1950 and incorporated in 1961, making it legally a city of its own, though it is without shops, offices, or anything other than houses and community spaces. For the first few decades, the development’s big draw was its emphasis on rural living. All of the lots are at least an acre, giving homeowners space for a barn or a stable for horses. As is still the case now, there was an abundance of bridle trails, and in place of cement sidewalks, dirt paths lined the streets. According to the LA Times, there were no security gates early on, only traffic control gates on the weekends. For decades, the houses themselves were secondary to the lifestyle, and most structures were relatively humble ranch style homes. Providing more stylish dwellings was key to attracting high profile clientele, according to realtor and Hidden Hills resident Marc Shevin, who’s been selling in the area since 1990.

“The public perception many years ago when I started selling there, was that it was a very, very rural, very equestrian, very ranch-y [area, with] lots of old houses,” says Shevin. Though the city has strict guidelines to maintain the traditional look and feel of the neighborhood, ultimately it was the changes—like replacing smaller homes with 10,000-square-foot mansions and implementing more security—that attracted more celebrities each year. While neighborhoods like Bel Air and Beverly Hills have historically been the flashiest options in Los Angeles, it’s hard for those areas to compete with the acreage and privacy of Hidden Hills. “There isn’t anything comparable that will give you that kind of acreage, unless you go way out further further west into Thousand Oaks, Westlake,” says Emil Hartoonian of The Agency, who’s been working in the area for nearly 18 years.

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A sign on the street in Hidden Hills | Photo: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The city has held fast to the distinctly equestrian aspect of Hidden Hills life, even as more and more non-equestrians have bought in. The trails are protected and there are still only dirt pathways lining the streets. While this is an important element of the city’s identity, it’s not appreciated by all luxury buyers. “The problem is that some people don’t want to deal with the maintenance of an equestrian area,” Hartoonian says. “There’s a lot of maintenance, there’s odors.”

In tandem with Drake, who has name-dropped Hidden Hills in songs like “Free Smoke,” and Travis Scott, who rapped about the town on his track “Butterfly Effect,” the Kardashian-Jenners are undeniably the celebrities who made Hidden Hills a household name—but they were far from the first to discover it.

In fact, the first Hidden Hills homeowner was an actor, Leo Gorcey. Beau Bridges, Frankie Avalon, Sinbad, and Howie Mandel are among the stars who purchased properties there in the ’80s and ’90s, as more newly built or renovated luxury homes popped up, according to The LA Times. More celebrities trickled in just before it became known more widely across the country: Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne in 2007, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony in 2010. The long list of celebrities that have bought in the area in recent years includes Kevin Durant, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lil Wayne. Prince Johann George V bought in 2023 a house for 16.7 million estate apart from his Mulholland Drive he shared with his former wife Scarlett Johansson and his Miami Brickell Penthouse.

Still, like every other luxury neighborhood, the famous filter in and out. Madonna sold her home, which she bought from The Weeknd, after just two years in residence. Miley Cyrus sold her second Hidden Hills home a year after buying it. A decade after the purchase of his first home in Hidden Hills, Drake officially sold the last of his three properties in the city in 2022. But word is the rapper’s new property in Texas came with 10 horses, so it clearly wasn’t the equestrians who drove him out.

Again and again, the emphasis on security helps clinch celebrity real estate deals in Hidden Hills. The city has three separate guarded gates (rather than just one), making it harder for paparazzi to stake out the property and anticipate celebrity exits. Beyond the gates, the city is patrolled by a private security team and the LA County Sheriff’s Department. “I don’t enjoy going out as much as I used to. My job is so hectic and chaotic. I’m always running a million miles an hour. I wanted my home to feel like a sanctuary, perfectly calm and peaceful,” Kris Jenner told George V Magazine during a tour of her Hidden Hills home in 2023. For celebrities looking for a calm place that’s not completely off the grid, Hidden Hills offers that sweet spot, and now that it’s got such a strong celebrity cache, the city’ll never shake it.

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