Drib­bling his way be­tween bas­ket­ball, fash­ion and ar­chi­tec­ture, James Gold­stein is the bil­lion­aire build­ing a leg­end of lux­ury: that of his very own lifestyle.

Schon! - - Strike Gold - Words / Pa­trick Clark Pho­tog­ra­phy / Ger Ger Pho­tog­ra­phy As­sis­tant / Jonathan Mar­low

Pin­ning down James Gold­stein is a bit of a mis­sion. Whilst you’re al­most guar­an­teed to find him on the front row of any pres­ti­gious cat­walk, when it’s not show sea­son, he’s any­where and ev­ery­where. Hop­ping be­tween the Paris Cou­ture shows and Ber­lin Fash­ion Week, with his eyes set on Copenhagen, we fi­nally track him down. “Hold on. I’m on the beach in Ibiza and there is a plane fly­ing over me,” comes the voice down the crackly phone line. “OK. That’s bet­ter now.” Af­ter a sight­see­ing stint in Zurich, Gold­stein is now tak­ing time off in the Mediter­ranean’s party is­land. “When I’m not in LA, I go to a lot of dif­fer­ent places be­cause I’m very in­volved with bas­ket­ball and dur­ing the play­offs I travel for al­most two months,” he ex­plains. An at­tendee of a mod­est 100 or so games a year, it’s no won­der that Gold­stein is as at home court­side as at a Parisian show.

Such a fre­quent and fer­vent guest is he that he’s be­come an iconic ‘FROW’ fea­ture at any show worth at­tend­ing: Gold­stein con­tin­ues to be an in­dus­try favourite, both as a so­cialite ex­traor­di­naire and a top buyer. “I guess I started about 30 years ago, but on a lim­ited ba­sis, and even­tu­ally in­creased the num­ber of shows that I at­tend over the years,” he re­lates. “Even if the shows aren’t that great, there are lots of par­ties, the top peo­ple from the city are out and about and I get to meet ev­ery­body. It’s re­ally turned into a very en­joy­able en­deav­our for me.”

The man of mys­tery – some­what crudely nick­named the ‘Ur­ban Cow­boy’ – is an enigma wait­ing to be solved. While much ink has been wasted on try­ing to work out how he made his for­tune – re­port­edly in prop­erty in­vest­ments – Gold­stein re­mains im­per­vi­ous and un­shaken by this at­ten­tion: “Maybe be­cause I’m some­what unique and I’m dif­fer­ent from other peo­ple, that sort of adds to my mys­tery in their eyes. [Peo­ple] are still sort of in­trigued by me be­cause they think there is more to my story than what they know.”

A keen adept of ex­otic skins, rock & roll at­tire and sig­na­ture western pieces, Gold­stein has also main­tained his own fash­ion sta­tus through inim­itable style, cham­pi­oning the wave of ex­u­ber­ant menswear de­signs, and was al­ways a keen sup­porter, when they were still in the busi­ness, of Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli and John Gal­liano. “I would say the two de­sign­ers that I prob­a­bly look to the most at the mo­ment would be Saint Lau­rent and Bal­main,” he muses. “Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what I’m wear­ing or don’t ap­pre­ci­ate it, but it doesn’t bother me.”

Other than fash­ion and NBA, James Gold­stein’s out­ra­geously “hum­ble” abode in the hills of LA, on Bev­erly Crest, fills his time. The or­ganic ar­chi­tec­ture won­der, de­signed and built by John Laut­ner in the 1960s, is a mas­ter­piece in its own right, both be­cause of its sit­u­a­tion and its de­sign. The proud owner since 1972, Gold­stein care­fully mon­i­tored (and most im­por­tantly, funded) its ren­o­va­tion, in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with Laut­ner. “About 20 years ago, I took a much more ag­gres­sive stance on com­ing up with the de­signs my­self and work­ing to­gether with a for­mer as­sis­tant of [Laut­ner’s], named Dun­can [Ni­chol­son].”

With the main part of the house fi­nally ren­o­vated, Gold­stein has set his sights higher, de­sign­ing and build­ing a three-level com­plex above the orig­i­nal es­tate. Topped with a ten­nis court over­look­ing LA, the new ad­di­tion com­prises ‘Club James’ and a ter­race, con­sist­ing of a cov­ered roof, open kitchen and bar. “I’ve al­ways wanted to de­sign my own club af­ter at­tend­ing them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis all my life,” the in­sa­tiable rev­eler tells us. “To­gether with the club on the sec­ond level are my of­fices. The last piece of the pro­ject is a theatre, which hasn’t even been started yet. I don’t even know when that will be com­pleted...”

When your of­fices are so close to your very own club, work and play must be easily in­ter­change­able. “There have been a num­ber of par­ties,” he con­firms. “Ri­hanna’s birth­day party was a huge suc­cess and very en­joy­able for me.” While it might seem awe-in­spir­ing for most, Gold­stein re­mains ca­sual about the fa­mous and glam­orous. “I hang out with the young gen­er­a­tion, even though I’m get­ting up in the years. [They] seem to al­ways ac­cept me and love hav­ing me around,” he re­lates. “I feel much more com­fort­able with them than with the mid­dle-aged or old gen­er­a­tion. I just don’t fit in well with the older crowd.”

With such ar­dent energy, the end is nowhere in sight. “I don’t re­ally like to wind down,” he chuck­les. “I like to keep go­ing at a strong pace, as much as pos­si­ble.” To the sullen sound of Ibizan gulls, Gold­stein gives us his farewell re­marks. “You might say what I’m do­ing at this mo­ment – sit­ting on the beach – is wind­ing down, but I just ar­rived here a cou­ple of hours ago. I’m hop­ing for some ex­cite­ment tonight.”

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