The house was redone to appeal to a buyer with a deep affinity for the Golden State, so nearly all of the pieces "reference California or classic Western imagery," said Janus Cercone, principal of Los Angeles-based Jaman Properties.
Rare art rentals from places such as Jason Vass Gallery in L.A. and Hamilton Selway Gallery in West Hollywood are in line with other open house practices designed to help sell a luxe lifestyle: the vintage prestige cars sitting in the garage, the lavish custom furnishings and the catered champagne-and-caviar parties.
Although the artwork is lent without charge, Cercone said she spends tens of thousands of dollars on insurance, professional art packers, transporters and installers, "not to mention around-the-clock armed security."
"It adds up," said Paul Lester, principal partner at the Agency. "But it definitely creates a secondary level of depth and gives more credibility to the house itself because there's a richness to it, a fullness you don't get from a lot of the staging art you see."
He said the lighting and appeal of multimillion-dollar spaces provide the perfect venue for exquisite artwork. "It's like a gallery," he said, "because when the art is in a space like that, it's so beautiful it speaks."
In many cases, it begs to be taken home.
"I've seen the art sell to the person buying the house, and also to the person selling," Lester said. "And I've had the experience where a potential buyer isn't right for the house, but they come back for the art."
After one recent open house that Cercone held, film producer and director Shawn Levy didn't make an offer but purchased a couple of Warhols, as well as pieces by Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg.
"You never know what will sell," said Cercone, who noted that Realtors do not take commissions on purchased artwork. "Some buyers appreciate the vision — buying the furniture, art, accessories, even the potted plants.."
She said she has been offered art reproductions for staging purposes with the suggestion that no one will be able to tell the difference, "but we believe our buyer will absolutely know."
"If we put ourselves in their position, we'd have to ask: If there's fake art on the walls, what else isn't authentic?"