An heiress and actuality TV producer are suing Los Angeles for the proper to demolish the house the place Marilyn Monroe died

Don’t bother to knock at Marilyn Monroe’s door in Los Angeles anymore. The current owners of the Brentwood home where Monroe lived and later died of a barbiturate overdose in 1962 are suing the city of Los Angeles for the right to demolish the property. 

Heiress Brinah Milstein and her husband, Roy Bank, a reality TV and game show producer, bought the property in August 2023 for $8.35 million, according to Los Angeles property records. They wanted to demolish the one-story home where Monroe died at the age of just 36 and expand their current residence, which is next door. 

But Los Angeles City Council intervened in September 2023, temporarily halting the demolition of the property. 

“Each detail of the home, from the wooden-beamed ceilings to the tiles she hand-picked from her journeys around the world…reflects her personal character,” Councilmember Traci Park told local station KCAL News. Park introduced the motion to declare the property a historical landmark, which would prevent changes to the home. 

“The overwhelming sentiment here is clear: This home must be preserved as a crucial piece of Hollywood and the City of Los Angeles’ history, culture, and legacy,” Park said. 

Milstein and Bank, however, feel differently about the property, and filed a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit on Monday, alleging “illegal and unconstitutional conduct and abuse of power.” They—along with their lawyer, Peter C. Sheridan of Glaser Weil Fink Howard Jordan & Shapiro LLP—contend that the city engaged in an “unconstitutional and corrupt process to guarantee their preferred outcome rather than engaging in a neutral and fair process,” according to a statement shared with Fortune

Shortly after Milstein and Bank purchased the property, they were issued a demolition permit from the city, which was initially held for 30 days to allow for objections, according to the lawsuit. No objections were raised at the time, and permits were issued, the suit shows. They incurred more than $30,000 in expenses before receiving the stay notice from the city, halting the project. The statement provided by Sheridan, Milstein, and Bank claims that this stay notice was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs also claim that the city “secretly” worked with third parties, including a for-profit tour operator and a local conservancy organization, “to assure their desired outcome.” The suit explicitly names Park as having an “unacceptable probability of bias” in the case. The plaintiffs allege Park “violated applicable law in numerous other respects with regards to the quasi-judicial process required for evaluation of alleged historic cultural monuments,” according to the statement. The city of Los Angeles did not respond to requests for comment from Fortune.

Historical significance of the home

Monroe purchased the property in 1962 for just $77,000, but she lived there for only a few months before her death. Fans and people who have dedicated their lives to studying and covering Monroe, however, still see the property as highly significant to Hollywood history.

“This property is the location that is most associated with Marilyn Monroe,” Scott Fortner, the owner of The Marilyn Monroe Collection, tells Fortune. “It’s the first house she ever bought and owned by herself, and it’s the location where she passed away.” Fortner owns the world’s largest private collection of Monroe’s personal property and archives, and also hosts a podcast called “All Things Marilyn.”

The plaintiffs in the case, however, argue that the house “in no way” meets any of the criteria for an historic cultural monument, according to the statement shared with Fortune. Currently, the city of Los Angeles has designated over 1,200 historic places as historic cultural monuments, according to Los Angeles City Planning

The lawsuit also points out that Monroe only lived at the property for a very short period of time, that it’s had 14 owners since her death, and that the property has already been substantially altered.

“There is not a single piece of the house that includes any physical evidence that Ms. Monroe ever spent a day at the house, not a piece of furniture, not a paint chip, not a carpet, nothing,” according to the lawsuit.

Monroe adorants disagree, saying that the home is still significant to her life and to Hollywood history.

“Regardless of the amount of time she lived there, or the number of owners who have occupied the residence since 1962, it would be a tragedy to lose this historic location that is so important to Marilyn Monroe fans around the world,” Fortner said. 

Subscribe to the CFO Daily newsletter to keep up with the trends, issues, and executives shaping corporate finance. Sign up for free.