Jirayr Zorthian, the Last Bohemian

Jirayr Zorthian, the Last Bohemian

“I have never, ever, I think, been in any cause to try to prove a point about how one should live…”

Who he was

Jirayr Zorthian was a bohemian artist and a significant figure in the history of the Los Angeles art scene. He was best known for Zorthian Ranch, his residence, and the annual party he would throw there. 

A survivor of the Armenian Genocide, he escaped from the Ottoman Empire and settled in the United States. He received a scholarship to study art at Yale and, upon graduating, moved to the west coast. On a parcel of land given to him in a divorce settlement with his first wife, he built a ranch that would eventually make him famous. 

He and his second wife lived on the ranch and because of Zorthian’s devout opposition to waste, they committed themselves to self-sustenance and extreme recycling. The couple grew their own food, raised and slaughtered their own livestock, and reused discarded products to build structures, furniture and art. 

What became the Zorthian Ranch was the setting for an annual party called the Primavera, where bohemians of all stripes would gather in an artistic celebration involving nude nymphs and costumes. Many people who weren’t artists, including Zorthian’s friend, world-famous physicist Richard Feynman, would also be in attendance. 

Interesting fact

The Zorthian Ranch once played host to inimitable jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker in what came to be known as the “wildest party in LA history.”

Learn more about him

The Zorthian Ranch - History

The Last Bohemian, RIP - LA Weekly

At Zorthian Ranch, a Return to Bohemia - LA Weekly