That’s the going rate for the turn-key, Spanish-style home that was part of Valentino’s famed Falcon Lair estate, which has all been demolished except for one lone remaining original structure. The former staff house and stable were broken off from the original estate in the 1970s and finally remodeled by its current owner, Geoffrey Lands, a Los Angeles real estate agent with Prudential California Realty.
“It has high ceilings, tons of light with a wonderful indoor-outdoor feeling,” Lands said.
Lands said he has been a fan of the famous Beverly Hills property for years and got the chance to buy it in 2003, then commenced a renovation project that has made the place a perfect complement of its historical past and a modern-day oasis. Lands lives in the house, but vacates when renters seek to use it.
Hard to tell this is the same place where Valentino fussed over his prized horses and cars.
And for anyone whose tastes and wallets lean toward The Beverly Hills Hotel, this Cielo Drive address is just up the road and provides a private place to temporarily live like a Hollywood star, if not exactly the way Valentino did.
The home features a large master bedroom with fireplace and sitting area. The master bath is spa-like, with a steam shower and radiant heating. It is indeed a special retreat, high above Beverly Hills, complete with a 45-foot mosaic-tiled saltwater pool and spa.
While Valentino’s famous home no longer exists, California historian Donna Hill has published a book, “Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol,” that contains a wonderful accounting of Falcon Lair, along with many candid photographs of the place.
In 1925 Rudolph Valentino purchased an estate above Beverly Hills, a home that he christened Falcon Lair. This was to be his retreat from public life, his castle and the palace to share with his lady love, Natacha Rambova. Sadly, as fate would have it, this retreat in Bel Air would not be the home for Rudy and Natacha he envisioned. She divorced him shortly after he bought the property.
Falcon Lair did become Rudy’s retreat and castle. Decorated with his own inimitable sense of style and good taste, Falcon Lair was filled with antiques and furnishings he bought on his travels through France, Spain and Italy.
Valentino hosted many intimate dinner parties at the property high above Hollywood. The now renovated former stable and three-bay garage once housed Rudy’s four Arabian horses and his beautiful automobiles.
After his death in 1926, the house, grounds and all contents were auctioned to pay the debts of Valentino’s estate. In 1953, Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress, purchased Falcon Lair, “primarily for use on her occasional visits to California and for use while she was in transit to or from her residence in Honolulu,” according to Duke’s collected papers.
Compared to her other estates, the residence was not large. However, being located in the hills above Benedict Canyon overlooking Beverly Hills, it served as a retreat from public life and Duke lived there until her death in 1993.
In 1998, the property was sold by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In 2003, a renovation project was begun and Falcon Lair was dismantled down to the framing and flooring.
Meanwhile, while Lands was making a success out of his renovation of the former Falcon Lair out-building, the owners of the Valentino’s original house were struggling. Lands said his former neighbors grew “frustrated with the permitting process” required to rebuild Falcon Lair, and finally put it up for sale, leading its demise via bulldozer in 2005.