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    Architect’s 1972 drawing of Berry Gordy’s LA office

    The words in black lettering stood out very clearly among the other papers, documents and posters on the auction table. “Mr. Berry Gordy’s Office.”

    They were printed beneath architectural drawings of an office space created with the precision of a work of art. There were four small separate colored drawings of various rooms presumably of the office of Motown founder Berry Gordy. Each was glued to a black cardboard back.

    One drawing showed the complete office; another with a conference table surrounded by high-back burgundy cushiony chairs with brass rivets;  another with a U-shaped executive desk with credenza and hutch, and another with a schematic of the room that also showed a kitchen, sauna, video/TV room and more.

    Architectural drawings of what is presumably Berry Gordy's office in Los Angeles, 1972.

    Architectural drawings of what is presumably Berry Gordy’s office in Los Angeles, 1972.

    The drawings were made by a Los Angeles architectural firm in 1972 and were apparently for Gordy’s new offices at 6522 Sunset Boulevard, the western headquarters for Motown after its move from Detroit that year.

    On the back of the board was more information: “mixed media, ink, watercolor, lithograph. 1972, Los Angeles.”

    Motown Records had long been – and still is – a child of Detroit, where Gordy opened his now-famous studio that produced hit after hit during the 1960s. Its first headquarters is now a museum on West Grand Boulevard. Gordy started this amazing record company in 1959 with $800 he borrowed from his family.

    Practically everyone knows the history of Motown and its successes: 110 Top 10 hits during the 1960s, catapulting Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and others into a stratosphere that many singers never reach, and making them into household names.

    A view of the office space showing the grand piano and other furniture.

    A view of the office space showing the grand piano, conference table and executive desk, along with wood-beam ceiling.

    In Detroit, Gordy moved Motown Records from the boulevard location to the Donovan Building on Woodward Avenue that he bought in 1968 (it was demolished in 2006). In Los Angeles, he opened a state-of-the art recording studio near the MoWest headquarters.

    When Gordy moved to LA, he left a smaller operation behind in Detroit, run by his sister Esther Gordy Edwards, who founded the museum (she died in 2011). Some of the label’s best-known artists stayed behind while others followed Gordy. He already had ties to Los Angeles (he had kept an office there since 1963 and built a house there a few years later), but didn’t pull up stakes from Detroit until years later. He wanted to be close to Hollywood and expand into movie-making and TV. MoWest never reached the altitude of Motown in Detroit during the 1960s. It lasted only about two years.

    Gordy sold Motown Records in 1988 to MCA, and the company changed hands several times. Jobete Music Co., the publishing arm of Motown, is now owned by EMI Music Publishing and is still located in the Sunset Boulevard location. The music catalog consists of the songs that made Motown famous and Gordy rich.

    An architectural drawing of the conference table draped by an elaborate chandelier.

    Architectural drawing of the conference table beneath elaborate chandeliers.


    A schematic drawing of Berry Gordy's Los Angeles office.

    A schematic drawing of the entire office space, including a kitchen, sauna and video/TV room.


    Architect drawing of an executive desk, and credenza and hutch.

    Architectural drawing of an executive desk, and credenza and hutch.


    Label with architectural firm and "Motown" on the drawing for Berry Gordy's office.

    Label with Los Angeles architectural firm and “Motown” on the drawing for the office.


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