Inside The Crumbling Walls Of Liza Minnelli’s Abandoned Beverly Hills Mansion
Beverly Hills is filled with nothing but magnificent homes, but some just haven’t been treated as well as others. The epic mansion of Vicente Minnelli and his family lies as a testament to this, except for one fact: it is completely decrepit and falling apart. The mansion has long been left to decay along with the legal battles that it witnessed. Its crumbling walls and overgrown gardens are but a taste of what has happened to the once grand home over the years. But one man was able to find beauty in this now hideous building.
A Man of Many Talents
Vincente Minnelli was a man of many talents. He very successfully made a name for himself in the film industry in the 1950s as he helmed many classic musicals.
For example, in 1951, he directed An American in Paris, an endeavor that brought him the Academy Award for Best Picture. A couple of years later, he took the Oscar for his work on Gigi, winning the prize for Best Director.
A Chicagoan at Heart
Minnelli was born in Chicago in 1903 but spent much of his childhood traveling around the Mid West, namely Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
The family eventually set up shop in Delaware, but Vincente returned to Chicago as soon as he finished high school. He then went on to immerse himself in theater, designing sets and costumes.
Yet to Come
Eventually, Vincente’s hard work paid off because he landed his first role as a director for a musical called At Home Abroad. The production started in 1935 and had a good run, at two years.
By 1940, he was offered a role at MGM Studios, which ultimately cemented his appearance in the industry. But the best was yet to come.
The Lady’s Man
Though many women won his heart over the years, it was Judy Garland who had the privilege of being Minnelli’s first wife. Garland was just as involved in performing arts as her husband, winning Tony Awards and Golden Globes.
She was, however, best known for her starring role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, for which she won a Juvenile Oscar.
Meant to Be
Garland and Minnelli first met on the set of Meet Me in St Louis in 1944, but they would collaborate twice more over the next few years. Garland was also quite the talented musician and produced a few albums that were relatively successful.
Incredibly, in 1961, she became the first woman to take home a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Just the One
Judy and Vincente had but one child: Liza Minnelli. Born on March 12, 1946, Liza would eventually become a huge star in her own right.
She bagged an Oscar for her performance singing in the 1972 film Cabaret, and is world-renowned for her unique singing voice. Minnelli’s singing career spanned three decades of shows in Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall.
Not For Long
Unfortunately, Vincente and Judy’s marriage wouldn’t last long, because in 1951, the couple went through a nasty divorce. Their struggles were also sparked by Garland’s tendency towards self-destructive behavior.
She tragically suffered a nervous breakdown after MGM terminated her contract, and also started an affair. This spelled the end of her marriage.
Three More Times
Vincente married three more times after his divorce with Judy. He wed his ultimate bride, Lee Anderson, in 1980. Sadly enough, the acclaimed director passed on from pneumonia and emphysema in his Los Angeles mansion at the age of 83.
Since his passing, the ownership of his mansion has proven to be mighty controversial.
But Vicente Minnelli wouldn’t pass away without leaving his precious Liza anything. And so when his will read that he’d left her the $1.1 million Beverly Hills mansion, but confusingly had also left his wife lifetime residency of the home.
When Liza put the house up for sale in 2000, she decided it was unnecessary to tell her stepmother, but instead bought her a $450,000 condo. Lee still refused to leave.
Tearing Her Hair Out
It took quite some time for Liza to sell the house, but by 2002, she had closed the deal. Problematically, Lee still wouldn’t vacate the property, which left Liza about to tear her hair out.
She retaliated by sacking the staff that worked and cared for the mansion, but when that didn’t work, she took matters drastically and stopped paying the electricity bills, so Anderson filed a lawsuit against her stepdaughter.
The lawsuit itself was rather weak and was made on the grounds that Liza had breached a contract and had brought severe anguish to her stepmother.
Unfortunately, the law was in Lee’s favor, because by the time the court case was happening, she was 91 years old and quite fragile. The court ascertained that moving Lee would likely lead to her demise.
The lawsuit caused Liza to withdraw Lee’s invitation to the wedding. But that wasn’t what was problematic in Lee’s eyes.
She was primarily upset because Liza was busy honeymooning all over the world and feeding her 850 guests a 12-foot cake while she was alone in a cold and dark house with no one to keep her company at 94 years old.
A Happy Life
Liza took her time responding to the lawsuit, finally getting to it a month after her wedding. She said to the Daily Variety, “My father left me the house, saying, ‘It is my wish if you sell the house that you move [Lee] to a residence.’
I finally got a nice offer to sell it and offered her a $450,000 condo tax-free. She won’t move. I’ve been supporting her forever. I did exactly what my father asked me to do. And now we can’t go into escrow because she won’t move. I am willing to give her a happy life.”
A Big Mess
Despite the mess of a lawsuit, things actually concluded fairly quickly thanks to some very cooperative new owners.
These folks helped Lee and Liza get over themselves by agreeing to let Lee live in the house until her final day, after which they would finally take full control of the desirable home. This calculated act of kindness left Anderson and Minnelli in a decent relationship.
Four years after the owners made their offer, the house finally went into escrow. Three years later, less than a month after her 100th birthday. At this point, the owners were finally able to take control of their $2.75 million purchase.
Before moving in, they decided to completely renovate the house, and so big plans were put into place.
Once Upon a Glorious Home
As it turns out, and nobody knows why this happened this way, the owners’ plans fell through completely. There was talk of scrapping the entire mansion and instead of rebuilding on the estate, but that didn’t work out either.
Instead, the once beautiful mansion was now teaming with squatters. This was an absolute shame given what a glorious home it once was.
The property has a fascinating history to it. It was initially built in 1925 in a Spanish colonial style. This aesthetic includes smooth plaster walls, terracotta detailing, and flat roofs.
This stylish home changed completely when it was renovated in a Louis XVth style between 1944 and 1953 by architect John Elgin Woolf.
Quite the Pad
This mansion, situated on the end of N. Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills, is among the biggest in the neighborhood. It contains a generous 19 rooms including 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms.
The home takes up 5,900 square feet on a 42,500-foot estate. The space itself is more than one person can handle and is definitely fit for MTV Cribs.
Just a Little Spoiled
Liza’s parents had a unique way of managing custody during their divorce. They set up a system wherein she would spend six months with each of her parents, so half of her childhood was spent in her father’s mansion.
Her father, quite the generous man, commissioned artist Tony Duquette to build Liza a huge playhouse for her enjoyment.
Just a Dream
Not only did Liza have her own playhouse, but she also had the wardrobe of her dreams. Vincente spoiled her rotten, having most of her clothing custom-made to her liking.
In fact, the star of Murphy Brown Candice Bergen remembered this is, writing in her autobiography that she “remembered always asking to go to Liza’s to play dress-up because in her closet hung little girls’ dreams.”
In 2000, the Los Angeles Times had the gall to do a feature on Liza’s stepmother Lee. They were primarily focused on the vast home that she and Vincente shared, and found that in addition to the vast dressing rooms, the walls were papered with python skin.
Lee’s closet was filled to the brim with designer clothing, but her suite was all but smothered with reading material and framed photographs.
Lee was adamant about maintaining the memory of her husband. She even left his easel and paints exactly as they were at the time of his passing and left a room filled with relics of his accomplishments.
This part of the house was dedicated to his Oscar for Best Director of Gigi, among other memories telling the story of his illustrious career.
The house in its current state is far from the glory days that it was when Lee was still around to care for it. The state of disrepair that it found itself in is beyond revolting and even a little sad.
The years since Liza’s passing have not been kind to the home, leaving it covered in plants and graffiti.
The Biggest Names
Not only is the house in sorry shape, but the grounds are in pretty pathetic shape. Once grandiose columns are toppled over and strewn all over the place, while debris and rubble litter the overgrown gardens.
It is impossible to tell from the appearance of this home that anyone of note ever lived there, much less some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
A Sad State
Because the property is so vast, it makes for extremely unpleasant viewing. The unnerving feeling that runs down one’s spine while tip-toeing down the filthy carpet is atrocious.
These carpets are so aged and unmaintained that red dust is visible underneath the padding. Not only that, but there are now holes in the walls and doors coming away from hinges.
Dismantling a Home
Some parts of the house have been dismantled for their specific use and instead mishmashed into vague living quarters. This room, for instance, contains a luxurious bathtub, but also an old and stained mattress and a pile of papers.
This makes you wonder what exactly happened here for someone to feel the need to create a safe space among such an enormous home.
Despite the random and frankly slightly dangerous appearance of this home, some people have tried to piece together exactly what happened since Liza’s passing.
One YouTuber named adamthewoo began a project of urban exploration in 2014. His first observation was that, unsurprisingly, there was no running water.
Among the broken TV sets and other such useless items lies a fireplace that has seen better days.
According to the two fellows who had toured the house in 2014, there was evidence that it had been used fairly recently, thus hinting that someone had been staying there since the mansion was effectively abandoned.
Left to Squatters
Funnily enough, it does appear that some work has been done on the house since Lee’s passing, but it seems that it never came to fruition.
Arial photos from Bing show trucks and dumpsters parked on the property, but nothing seems to have to come from these attempts to tame the house.
Obviously, Minnelli’s home is hardly the only home that was left to rot and decay. In Oxfordshire, England, the home of a rockstar went from a wealthy family home to a nursing facility for the aging population.
Curious explorers went around the property and shared some incredible footage, the first available since the property was abandoned.
These days, the house stands far, far away from its former glory. While the mansion might have turned heads at some point in time, this is far from the case today.
Because the home once belonged to lead singer of Deep Purple Ian Gillan, it was especially famous. Though Gillan was born a Londoner, he found that he was better off making his own in the Oxford countryside.
Gillan started on the path to fame when he joined the band Episode Six in 1965. Though the group toured with some big names like Dusty Springfield, they never reached much commercial success.
When Ian Gillan joined Deep Purple, they had already been around for two years.
This may have been due to the band name or the changing tides, but Deep Purple was highly successful in the 1970s. Gillan still stole the spotlight with his instantly recognizable voice.
As music reporter Malcolm Dome established, “Gillan remains completely in control of his voice whilst going completely insane.”
Smoke on the Water
Spearheaded by Gillan’s famous vocals, Deep Purple took the world by storm. Their fifth studio album, Fireball, went to the top of the British charts, and “Smoke on the Water” sealed their fate as one of the most popular bands of the decade.
The only problem was that Deep Purple continuously had high turnover, and the band took an eight-year break.
Where Have You Been?
But what of Ian Gillan after all this time? Though he advertises his main interests as being hiking and soccer, he hides his penchant for property from the public and his fans.
In 1973, Gillan made quite the hefty purchase: the Oxfordshire home that now lays abandoned. The singer dropped around $100,000 on his home, or $140,000 at today’s going rate.
But that wasn’t all that was invested in the property. Though the home was affordable because of its rural location, Gillan and his girlfriend at the time dropped $500,000 on various projects around the house, namely sound-proofing.
A gig in London had earned Deep Purple the title of “Globe’s Loudest Band” in The Guinness Book Of World Records.
Nothing Lasts Forever
But nothing lasts forever-due to some bad spending decisions, Gillan went bankrupt. So in 1995, the Franklin couple came to own the property, then turned it into a hotel called “The Springs.”
Funnily enough, Gillan at one point revealed that he wasn’t interested in seeing the reimagined property because of the new dress code that was enforced.
Just a Memory
Unfortunately, the good days were numbered. After only two years of being in business, the increasing costs of maintaining the hotel caused it to shut down.
The property lay abandoned, but a recent fascinating video captured what is now a home in complete disrepair. Any trace of Gillan’s old glorious home is but a distant memory.
It was Warren Tepper of Hampshire who find the way. An urban explorer who loves to find abandoned buildings to explore, he was a YouTube channel called Warren Urbexing.
Though urban exploring can get you in trouble, Tepper maintains that no one really cares about those old buildings anymore and that it shouldn’t matter.
Despite the questionable legality of the past time, Tepper continues to explore, though he continuously encourages interested parties to exercise caution and ideally to go accompanied by a friend.
One of his first shots of the Gillan mansion was that of a swimming pool that was beyond repair. It was covered in moss and looked as though it hadn’t been used in decades.
Though the inside of the mansion is devoid of furniture, it still contains relics of a glorious past, namely an incredible fireplace. The stairs had been renovated with purple and white carpeting and definitely scream ‘safety first’ before ‘rock star mansion.’
The mantlepiece is the most impressive bit of the home that is left to admire, with beautiful wooden carvings.
A Lump of Glass
Other footage of the mansion includes a lovely old set of chandeliers and a carved white ceiling, which he described as “proper decent old school stuff.”
Tepper is next seen wandering around the house when “Oh wow! Look at this,” he says excitedly. “Proper brass screens. So that’s all brass with a lump of glass behind it.”
Even though the building’s past grandeur is long past, when the light goes through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s easy to imagine guests and dwellers wandering the halls in their swimwear.
The real shame is that outside, nature is reclaiming the property, with numerous weeds and moss growing all over the place. Still, the white balustrade and the lake still glitter in the sun.
So Very Posh
The next shot shows exactly how far the indoor neglect has come. With extensive mold streaking its way across the walls and random books lying abandoned, the rooms still look like they belong in a hotel…in a horror film.
The irony is of course that the rooms are all named after very upscale neighborhoods in London, like ‘Chelsea’ or ‘Kensington.’
In the Temple Room
Tepper then ventured into a room called “Temple”, which was apparently a non-smoking facility, at least according to the hoteliers past.
As Tepper said, “You could worship the god of mold in that room.” It’s hard to tell what shade the carpet used to be, because now it’s covered in green and purple gunk.
Fine Sheets, Nice Blankets
One 1988 hotel review stated that the beds were very comfortable, with fine sheets and nice blankets. But given what the bedrooms look like now, it is unlikely that anyone would sleep in them by choice.
Every detail from the hotel’s glory days are still there, from the pleasant side tables to the crooked lamps.
The floral curtains seem to want to look disheveled, as they are half-closed but still filtering in light through the thin fabric. Mother nature is still winning over the outside of the home, with green mold that is taking over the space.
As the team enters the Ascot room, the first items to come into shot are an exposed electrical wire and a broken window.
Like a Guitar
The footage quickly shifts from being outdoors again: the men have departed. It turns out that they heard security coming in and decided to scamper before getting caught.
The film finished with a grand image: that of the swimming pool shaped like a guitar, complete with frets and a neck. It is a revolting shade of green and looks as though it belongs in a ghost movie.
Quite the Rush
At least one lounge chair and a lifesaver have met their end in this pool, along with a number of unidentified objects.
Though this home would cost millions to restore, it is not worth it to anyone, and so it will stay as a curiosity to people like Tepper who love to explore buildings of the past.