While many would like to see a home owned by Al Capone in Southern California, the famous mobster had no such address. There might have been times he visited, but in terms of residence, Capone favored Florida over the Golden State. Instead, however, Hollywood and the greater part of Southern California have been home to quite a few other mobsters of similar fame and notoriety.
While probably boring in terms of antics and exploits for most people, as an accountant and financial wizard, Meyer Lansky was essential. He was a linchpin for moving money gained illegally in Florida gambling, but the mob accountant worked in Hollywood of all places. Much of the California connection had to do with Meyer Lansky’s brother, Jake, who lived in California, versus his financial expert brother working on the other side of the country. Interestingly, despite all his dealings, Meyer Lansky never got caught in any of the dragnets those he worked for did. Gambling was the worst of his crimes.
The Rainbow Grill in Hollywood was another big hangout for the mob. It was a well-known gambling hall, and despite raids, the establishment kept continuing to manage the wagers night after night. Ultimately, the Hollywood Commission granted an official license in 1948.
In terms of homes and mansions, however, Bugsy Siegel’s home, now owned by Joel Aronowitz and Fiona Chalom, was a famous residence of a powerful and effective hitman for the mob. For years, Siegel was extremely effective, but he was also flashy with his presence in Hollywood. Eventually, Siegel himself would be murdered in his own home, peppered with four out of nine bullets shot through his front living room window. The mansion today, however, is listed for sale, as the owners have decided to move on. Joel Aronowitz and Fiona Chalom took over the property in 2003 and, some 20 years later, have now put it on the market again for the next chapter in the mansion’s history.
Today, much of what qualifies as organized crime now works overseas, utilizing digital tools that are half a world away. However, the homes left behind, like that of Joel Aronowitz and Fiona Chalom listed for sale, still evoke a story and detail of a time when mob presence was personal, flamboyant, deadly, and tangible. The homes and places left behind are ghosts of the past, but their owners today make them entirely new places of life and presence all over again.