Why Brad Pitt Let His 105-Year-Old Neighbor Live Rent-Free In His Mansion

He told the elderly man he'd have a home for the rest of his days — which turned out to be more than a decade.

Brad Pitt and a Los Angeles mansion fivetonine, Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes when you make "forever" promises you have no concept of just how long "forever" will be, a lesson A-list actor Brad Pitt, 59, has been learning for the past 30 years after deciding to help out an elderly neighbor. 

Brad Pitt finally sold his Los Angeles estate in March for $40 million after waiting for nearly 30 years.

Practically nothing in Hollywood—marriages, stardoms, careers—lasts as long as Pitt's ownership of his former Los Feliz estate, which he purchased in 1994 and was only just able to unload in March of 2023. He held onto it so long in part because it came with an unlikely—and deeply heartwarming—bit of baggage.


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Brad Pitt's purchase of the house unexpectedly turned him into a landlord with a tenant in his 90s.

Pitt purchased the sprawling estate in 1994 from actress Cassandra Peterson, better known as busty, campy 80s and 90s television personality—and LGBTQ icon—Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. And aside from the $1.7 million price tag—about $3.4 million in today's dollars—the house was also haunted and full of ghosts, as Peterson recently revealed in an interview.

Perhaps that's why she sold it? In any case, once her house became Pitt's house, Peterson moved to a place nearby, and she and Pitt were neighbors for quite some time.


Speaking to People Magazine recently, via Fox, she recalled catching Pitt training for his boxing-heavy role in 1999's "Fight Club" while she was walking her dogs. "I go past Brad's garage and he's in there wearing only sweatpants," she recalled. "I swear I almost fainted." 

When Pitt first purchased the home from her, he was hot off the success of his star-making turns in 1994's "Interview With The Vampire" and "Legends of the Fall," so he immediately set about expanding the footprint of the estate ever wider so he could eventually build a swimming pool, tennis court and even an ice rink.

As Peterson recalled, "I think there were like 22 houses that were contiguous to the edge of the property, and every time they came up he bought one."

But one of the houses came with a surprise—an elderly man in his early 90s named John who'd recently lost his wife. He'd been living in what was now Brad Pitt's house for decades, and Pitt didn't have the heart to send him packing. So, instead, he struck a deal with John—one that went on far longer than expected.


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Brad Pitt agreed to let his elderly neighbor live in his house rent-free until he died—which didn't happen for more than a decade.

Pitt was probably expecting the man to kick off relatively soon—as you would with a man already into his 90s. That's not how things shook out in the end, but Pitt was unfazed. 



"He was very, very kind to the husband," Peterson told People. "His wife passed away and the husband, John, lived there. I know that Brad allowed him to live there without paying anything until he died." But Peterson couldn't help but laugh about how that actually went down.  


"It was kind of funny because John lived to be 105," she told the magazine. "I imagine Brad was thinking well, you know, he can live there till he dies, which might be any minute now." Instead, good ol' John "just kept living forever," as she put it. But Peterson said the situation was totally in character for Pitt, whom she described as "always kind and sweet" despite his A-list stardom.

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The estate is where Pitt raised his six children with Angelina Jolie before their 2016 split. 

Pitt didn't live in the estate during his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, from 2000 to 2005. The pair moved into a Beverly Hills mansion that they then sold after their divorce—and which Pitt was rumored to have bought back in 2019 for $79 million so he could gift it to Aniston, who always regretted not keeping the place.  

But once Pitt and Jolie made their pairing official after meeting in 2004, Jolie and her brood moved into Brad Pitt's house and the pair raised their six children Maddox, 21, Pax, 19, Zahara, 18, Shiloh, 16, and 14-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, there until their acrimonious divorce began in 2016. 


Pitt has now sold the 1.9-acre estate because he is reportedly looking for something smaller now that he and Jolie have parted ways and their children are growing up. Perhaps his next house will also have a kindly old man nearby to keep him company in his golden years—which would make one heck of a concept for a buddy film, come to think of it.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.