What Happened to Kanye West’s $57 Million Tadao Ando Gem?

Three years ago, the award-winning rapper, producer, fashion mogul, and entrepreneur formerly known as Kanye West—who has become an increasingly controversial figure following his commentary on political issues in recent years—paid $57.3 million for an oceanside Tadao Ando manse in Malibu. That residence is now a shell of its former self, stripped of any of the familiar markers of a typical home, like doors, windows, a bathroom, plumbing, or electricity.

The home is also currently on the market for $39 million—the price having been slashed a mere four months after West (who now goes by Ye) first listed it for $53 million early this year. It is considered to be a “classic” Ando house, and one which Ron Radziner, the LA architect who has worked with the legendary Pritzker winner on several stateside homes, claims the Japanese starchitect “really loves.” So why is West selling the architectural gem, and how did it arrive to its currently completely stripped condition?

While we may never have all the answers, a recent in-depth New Yorker investigation offers some insight. Per the story, the rapper was attempting to “remix” the home, to borrow writer Ian Parker’s phrasing. Kulapat Yantrasast, an architect who worked at Ando’s firm and with West for some time, told The New Yorker, “I really admire what Ye was trying to do [with the house],” which was supposedly to use it “as a base to build his own language of architecture.”

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According to The New Yorker, West’s architectural language was highly influenced by the masters of minimalism, including Ando himself and the artist James Turrell, best known for his Skyspaces, which are august but simply designed shelters that open to the sky through an aperture in their ceilings. Scattered all over the world from Japan to Mexico, Turrell’s Skyspaces typically lack common domestic trappings, like laundry rooms and HVAC systems. “We all will live in Turrell spaces,” West once tweeted.

Stripping back and powering down

In an attempt to perhaps create his own language of minimalism, West supposedly told the contractor who worked on the home that he did not want a kitchen, bathroom, AC, windows, light fixtures, or heating. He repeatedly mentioned clarity and simplicity. “He wanted everything to be his own doing,” contractor Tony Saxon, who worked on the Malibu house for West, told the publication. “Simple fresh and cleeeeeean,” West reportedly typed in a text.

Staircase-to-slide conversion

According to the article, West used large blocks of foam to convert a wide staircase inside the house into a slide. The rapper once publicly stated that he’s “really big on outlawing stairs.” (He has not clarified exactly why.) Saxon was not involved with the foaming of the steps, though he told The Neww Yorker that he was asked to help remove the foam once it had been applied.

All-over paint job

Saxon was also supposedly asked to paint shelves, cabinets, closets, and even black-and-white marble in a bathroom, in an attempt to streamline the abode into the same shade. West’s current wife, Bianca Censori, who completed her master’s degree in architecture at the University of Melbourne in 2020, told the contractor that West did not “want any of the wood to show.” After taking the paint for a test run on some of the wood, West reportedly asked the contractor to destroy all the wood and the marble in the house. He also removed two metal chimneys, glass balustrades, all windows and doors, and the heating and plumbing.

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West’s architectural aspirations

It seems that West—already highly acclaimed as a musician and fashion designer—was attempting a stab at architectural greatness. He’s long showed interest in the field; West briefly attended Chicago’s Academy of Art and Chicago State University before dropping out to pursue music. According to The New Yorker piece, his flirtation with architecture began as a child when he would visit his local Barnes & Noble to read copies of AD. He was even invited to Harvard’s graduate design school in 2013 to speak on his personal study of the discipline. And although opinions on its design are divided, the rapper’s Hidden Hills home during his marriage to Kim Kardashian—a sleek, minimal dwelling—can definitely be considered a success. (For that project, the couple had help from Axel Vervoordt, Claudio Silvestrin, Vincent Van Duysen, and more collaborators.)

By 2018, West was building prototypes for affordable housing under his now defunct Yeezy Home brand, which never really came to fruition. Today, the Malibu house he tried to make his own is just a frame, and unlivable as is. Given West’s polarizing artistic vision, that may have been his goal all along.

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