In 2009, Brittany Murphy died in her Hollywood Hills home at the age of 32. Five months later, her husband, Simon Monjack, was also found dead on the property. Since then, mysteries continue to surround their shocking deaths — and their former home has become a key player in the confounding story.
Murphy, whose life and sudden death will be explored in the new documentary, What Happened, Brittany Murphy?, airing on HBO Max Oct. 14, moved into the home in 2003, after purchasing it fully furnished from Britney Spears for $3.85 million, property records show.
She lived in the home for just under six years with Monjack, whom she married in 2007, before she took her last breath in the main bathroom on the morning of December 20, 2009. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a 911 call from Murphy’s mother, Sharon, who lived with the couple, at 8 am when the Clueless star collapsed after experiencing flu-like symptoms for a few days. The actress was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
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In February 2010, L.A. County Coroner Asst. Chief Ed Winter concluded that Murphy’s death was the result of untreated pneumonia, combined with anemia and drug intoxication from prescription and over-the-counter medications, including painkillers and cold medicine. No illegal drugs were found in her system.
On May 23, 2010, Sharon found her son-in-law unresponsive in the home. Monjack, then 40, was pronounced dead after the LAFD was called to the residence for a medical emergency, PEOPLE reported at the time. Like Murphy, a coroner later determined acute pneumonia and severe anemia as the causes of the screenwriter’s death.
There was speculation that the couple’s deaths could have been related to mold in the home, but that theory was later dismissed by the medical examiner’s office in 2010.
However, Simon’s mother Linda Monjack continued to fuel this theory when she told the Daily Mail in 2013 that her son had found “severe mold” in the home prior to his death, saying, “All I know is that before Simon’s death he was having hallucinations that things were crawling out of his skin.”
Both Spears and Murphy reported that they thought there was something strange about the home — which is located on Rising Glen Road, atop the Sunset Strip — when they each lived there.
Spears, who was dating Justin Timberlake when she lived in the house, apparently claimed to have had an otherworldly encounter that led her to leave the property and never come back.
Her former makeup artist, Julianne Kaye, recounted the situation in an episode of Earios’s “We Need To Talk About Britney” podcast in February 2021.
“[Spears] had that place up on Sunset Plaza — and I’m just gonna say, this is really weird … She calls me … I had my friend do reiki healing on her, he had come up, I guess she’d had a crazy partying weekend and needed to relax. He left, and she swears to God that he opened some spirit portal or something, and these bad spirits had come in … and they were trying to, like, push her down the stairs or something crazy,” Kaye explained on the podcast.
She continued: “It was so bad that she left. She went to the Casa Del Mar hotel to stay there and never went back to the house. She goes, ‘I know you’re gonna think I’m crazy. I’m not crazy. I know what I saw. I know what I felt.'”
While Murphy never claimed to see spirits, she did seem to have a sense that something was off about the home.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter shortly after her death, in January 2010, Monjack shared that his late wife tried to avoid the home at all costs.
“She absolutely hated the Rising Glen house,” Monjack said. “Every time we would drive up Sunset, Brit would say, ‘Please, can we stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel?’ I’d say: ‘Honey, you’ve got to be realistic. We have our house, a 10,000-square-foot home. We’re going to stay in it.'”
Monjack told reporters that Murphy thought the property was “unlucky,” and was planning to move her, Monjack and her mother to New York in the next year, where they were planning to start a family.
Monjack also shared that the bathroom where Murphy ultimately died was her “comfort zone” in the home, and she spent hours in there reading magazines, singing to herself, writing poetry, sampling her beauty products and looking at herself in the mirror.
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After becoming well known as the location of the couple’s mysterious deaths, the home has changed hands multiple times. According to property records, Sharon sold the estate at a massive loss for $2.7 million in 2011 after struggling to find a buyer.
In 2013, it was torn down, and underwent a multi-year rebuild, with developers aiming to create a sprawling, contemporary structure. When it was sold again in 2017, for $14.53 million, the property bore no resemblance to its former incarnation.
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The new home was last sold in December 2020 for $11.59 million, property records show. It measures 9,400 square feet, and has five bedrooms and eight and a half bathrooms.
The last listing described it as “a city view masterpiece perched atop the Sunset Strip,” with an open floor plan, high ceilings and “rooms that open completely to outdoor lounge spaces, nearly all with unobstructed city views… optimal for So. Cal living.”
The main suite is 2,000 square feet, and boasts two walk-in closets, two bathrooms and a private patio. Other key features in the home include a home theater, massage room, wine cellar, infinity pool and spa, and elevator.
Both episodes of What Happened, Brittany Murphy? premiere on HBO Max Oct. 14.