Globe-trotting superstar Ricky Martin trades in his nomadic existence to set up house in Beverly Hills with artist Jwan Yosef and their twin sons
To say that the 40-something Ricky Martin maintains a boyish appeal may be the understatement of the year. The Puerto Rican superstar seized the spotlight as an angelic 12-year-old phenom in the boy band Menudo, beloved by teenyboppers and grandmothers alike. He has rarely been out of the public eye since. Fresh off a blockbuster 2017 residency at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Martin’s latest star turn has him portraying Gianni Versace’s boyfriend Antonio D’Amico in producer Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, on FX this January.
Yet for all his success, Martin’s greatest joy lies in the happy home life he has built with fiancé Jwan Yosef, a Syrian-born Swedish artist, and their nine-year-old twins, Matteo and Valentino. The couple met two years ago in London, where Yosef was living at the time, and spent the next twelve months traveling the globe on Martin’s One World Tour. The children were with them for the entire ride.
“Tino and Matteo were born on the road. They’re used to spending two weeks in one place and then moving on,” Martin says. “Our kids are stable when we are together. Wherever we happen to be, that’s home.”
Today, however, the family’s concept of home has an actual address, specifically in Beverly Hills. “We were considering living in London or New York City, but then we decided to rent in Los Angeles for a month, to get a feel for the vibe. L.A. totally caught us off guard—we loved it. By the end of the month, we knew we wanted to be here,” Yosef recalls. After a marathon three-day house-hunting expedition, the couple settled on the first place they had scouted, a serene, modernist residence with a surprising architectural pedigree. At the core of the 11,000-square-foot dwelling was a 3,000-square-foot home designed by acclaimed midcentury architect Gregory Ain for psychiatrist Fred Feldman and his wife, Elaine, in 1953.
“Even though the house had been greatly expanded over the years, we still wanted to respect its original vision—the clean lines, the openness, and the sense of calm,” Martin says. With less than two months from purchase to move-in, the couple enlisted AD100 designer Nate Berkus, whom they had met through mutual friends, to facilitate the process. Fortunately for everyone involved, Martin and Yosef neither required nor desired a miraculous makeover.
“We weren’t interested in a completely decorated home with a specific look done to the last detail. We wanted to get the basics covered so it would be comfortable for us and the kids, but we left plenty of room for the house to grow and evolve in the years to come,” Yosef explains.
Berkus seconds the notion. “Ricky and Jwan are both artists, and they have very particular ideas about how they want to live,” the designer observes. “Ultimately, I helped give them a solid, neutral foundation that they can cultivate together to make the home truly theirs. The sense of place is all about the future of their family.” The foundation that Berkus and his clients laid relies heavily on classic modern designs of the 20th century—including signature pieces by Ray and Charles Eames, Milo Baughman, and Hans Wegner—invigorated by an array of spruce contemporary furnishings by the likes of BassamFellows and Tom Dixon. The mix also encompasses a few sentimental favorites, among them the long wood dining table, an erstwhile desk that Martin acquired in 1996.
There’s so much potential for crafting a vibrant, creative environment for our family.
“It was my first real piece of furniture, and it works perfectly here,” the singer says. “Jwan has impeccable taste, so I give him most of the credit for how good everything looks,” he adds. “My main concern was for comfort and practicality, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
One of the delights of moving into their new home was the ability to incorporate works from the couple’s nascent but growing art collection, which largely eschews the predictable trophies of contemporary acquisition in favor of intriguing, lesser-known young artists’ creations.
“I’m a young artist myself, and it’s fun to live with work created by my friends and fellow artists,” says Yosef, whose own compelling paintings and prints are displayed to great advantage on the crisp white walls. Meanwhile, Martin’s musical background is reflected in a series of black-and-white photographs of legendary singers on the order of Janis Joplin, David Bowie, John Lennon, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra. The idiosyncratic assemblage also includes a few blue-chip pieces, such as a recently acquired sculpture by Larry Bell and a fantastic canvas by Cuban artist Wifredo Lam that Martin purchased in 1998, when he began collecting Latin American art in earnest.
The home’s former yoga room has now been converted into an artist’s atelier for Yosef, and Martin has plans to build a recording studio on the property. As for Matteo and Valentino, the kids are looking forward to serious playtime in a tree house that has yet to be installed amid the branches of one of the gorgeous specimens that dot the estate.
“There’s so much potential for crafting a vibrant, creative environment for our family,” Martin says. “You can never be sure what the future will bring, but I can’t wait to find out.”
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