Steve and Anne Stodghill are in their library showing off a “zombie apocalypse/bat closet.” The Batman theme song plays as a custom-made bat suit emerges. A leather motorcycle suit covered in custom Kevlar was created in conjunction with designers at DC Comics. As the closet door closes, the “Flight of the Valkyries” plays.
Steve, an attorney for Winston & Strawn, has a thing about Batman. He’s been collecting the character’s memorabilia since 1965. Upstairs, there’s a 2,000-piece Batman collection in his son’s playroom. At work, he’s known as Batman.
The Stodghill home, which they bought in 2012, is a showcase for their collections, from art, Hollywood memorabilia and their world travels to ancient weapons, the old West, wine and rock stars’ guitars.
“We wanted a house that looked like it had been built in Southern California a hundred years ago,” Anne says. “We wanted a Spanish Revival style home. We fell in love with Montecito and the casual lifestyle of homes in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.”
Photo by Danny Fulgencio
The two agreed that a must for their dream home is a library. They’re both avid readers. In addition to books, the room houses items from their world travels organized by geography — Africa, India, China, Russia, South and Central America, then Europe. Also on display are a shirt that John Wayne wore in three movies, a James Stewart suit from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and a jacket that Richard Boone wore in six seasons of “Have Gun — Will Travel.”
The ancient weapons collection includes Viking knives, a 600-year-old Swiss battleaxe, a Somali blow dart gun, an Apache skull buster and swords of all varieties — Samurai, Persian, Congolese and Spanish.
A cigar that Winston Churchill smoked is housed in the same room as a triceratops horn, Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show megaphone and a pipe case and jacket worn by Doc Holliday. Nearby are photos of Steve, who is chair of the American Film Institute’s National Council, with celebrities: George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Hurley, Bradley Cooper, Val Kilmer, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro.
All that and you’re not out of the library yet. The hall is lined with framed Life magazine covers.
“One of the reasons we bought the house is we have large art, and we’ve since bought more large art,” Steve says. “But this house really had a lot of display space.”
Anne catalogues the collections. David LaChapelle’s “Angelina Jolie,” an Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, a Picasso, a Lichtenstein and photographs of rockers by singer and fashion photographer Bryan Adams.
The Stodghills entertain once a week, including book signings, charity events and a recent dinner for the chancellor of the University of Texas, Steve and Anne’s alma mater. Their upstairs ballroom has even been used for wedding receptions.
Many of the features of the house are based on the couple’s travels. The front door is modeled on the one at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. The ballroom bar is a replica of the one at the Montecristo in New York City. And the media room, which seats 28 people and has a 195-inch screen, is inspired by The Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
“People use the term ‘curated,’ but it’s just stuff and more stuff every time I turn around,” Anne says. “Having art is like having extended members of the family. Being able to see a piece of art in different lighting and at different times of the year, and when you’re in a different mood, there’s nothing like it.”