Leykin et Cie and Paul Flato
In 1935, “jeweler to the stars” Sol Leykin opened his Leykin et Cie located at 8635 Sunset Blvd., across from the Trocadero, on the ground floor of a 2-story colonial-revival style building, seen above c. 1936. It quickly became a celebrity hotspot along the newly-named Strip.
In early 1938, another claimant to “jeweler to the stars,” Paul Flato, opened his Los Angeles salon next door at 8637 Sunset. All Hollywood, it seemed, attended the grand opening party, covered by Harper’s Bazaar in its March 1938 issue. Housed in an elegant, 1-story building with awnings, the interior, designed by Terance Robsjohn-Gibbings, reflected Greek, Babylonian and Egyptian influences with a contemporary modernistic flair.
Soon after locating in the film capital, Flato’s pieces began appearing on stars on-screen- most notably Katherine’s Hepburn in Holiday (1938), Merle Oberon in That Uncertain Feeling (1941), and Greta Garbo and Connie Bennett in Two-Faced Woman (1941).
Leykin et Cie relocated it’s salon to the ground floor of the new I. Magnin department store, which opened at 3240 Wilshire Blvd. on February 10, 1939. The Sunset Blvd. space went on to become (as 8631) Restaurant LaRue in 1944.
Paul Flato’s Sunset Strip salon was the scene of a shocking daylight robbery on September 30, 1941. Four armed bandits, who arrived in a new “flaming red” sedan, burst in and bound the 7 employees on duty, warning them with the usual “If you move, we’ll plug you!” before making off with an estimated $50,000 worth of gems. Unluckily for the robbers, the jewels loaned to Greta Garbo for Two-Faced Woman had just been shipped back to New York. LAPD and sheriff’s deputies investigating the bold caper blamed “eastern gangsters,” further speculating that the same crew might be responsible for a hold-up of a Wilshire Blvd. furrier and other recent burglaries. The case was never solved (1).
Flato’s Sunset Blvd. home quietly closed not long after, and Flato himself faced charges of theft back in New York in June 1943, accused of pawning $100,000-$125,000 worth of diamond, emeralds and other stones entrusted to him for consignment.
(1) Some of these hold-ups may have involved Mickey Cohen.