It almost seems like Spike Lee has lived under a charmed movie-making star since his career began. The award-winning filmmaker earned his graduate degree in filmmaking from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and became the first student director to ever have a film featured in Lincoln Center's "New Directors, New Films" Festival. His first feature, "She's Gotta Have It", was shot in 1985 for $175,000. It grossed over $7,000,000 when it was released the following year. Since then, he has gone on to write and direct films that have been critically and commercially successful. He has also stirred up controversy more than once. Some of his more popular projects include "Do the Right Thing", "Jungle Fever", "Malcolm X", "Get on the Bus", "4 Little Girls", "He Got Game", "Inside Man", and "Miracle at St. Anna". He moves easily between narrative features, documentaries, and commercials, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards – a "Best Original Screenplay" nomination for "Do the Right Thing", and "Best Documentary (Feature)" for "4 Little Girls". He's also managed to upset a range of politicians and fellow filmmakers with his views on race, gun violence, and a host of other topics. He's been in public feuds with Senator Dick Armey, Senator Trent Lott, Spike TV executives, Clint Eastwood, and the Anti-Defamation League, to name a few. Most recently, he got tongues wagging again when he announced that he was launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next film. Independent filmmakers immediately pointed to his $30 million mansion as proof that he was not the kind of artist for which Kickstarter was designed.
Spike Lee's house is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and measures 9000 square feet. The mansion is actually made up of two three-story buildings with a shared central courtyard. The list of luminaries who have called Spike Lee's house their own is rather dizzying. The previous owners include Jasper Johns, Gypsy Rose Lee, Charles Lanier Lawrence, and Charles B. Dillingham, among others. The home was built in 1916 as a gift from Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt to her daughter on her marriage. Spike Lee's house was designed by famed architect Frederick J. Sterner, who fashioned a Spanish revival home that was quite stark in comparison to the surrounding architecture. It made up for its austere exterior, with a gorgeous, and completely private, central courtyard. The home has been extremely well-preserved, and is now worth closet to $30 million. Which leads one to wonder why Spike Lee is looking for a handout.