The legendary Palm Springs Elrod House, prominently featured in the 1971 James Bond extravaganza “Diamonds Are Forever,” is in escrow and about to be sold, according to online listings. We hear from desert-based property snitch Jack A. Rahnduh that unconfirmed word on the Coachella Valley real-estate street is the mysterious buyer is an unidentified L.A.-based fashion-industry mover and shaker who has agreed to pay — in cash — “very, very close” to the $8 million asking price.
Billionaire investor Ron Burkle acquired the innovative and strikingly exotic residence in 1995 for the bargain-basement price of $390,000 and sold it in late 2003 for $5.5 million to real-estate investor Michael Kilroy, who unsuccessfully attempted to market the property, along with several neighboring homes he also owned, as an ultra-exclusive, invitation-only private club. Faced with mounting money troubles, Kilroy put the idiosyncratic landmark residence up for sale in late 2009 with an overly confident asking price of just under $13.9 million. Alas, there were no takers, and after several flirtations with foreclosure — and a last ditch effort to unload the place earlier this year with an again too-optimistic price tag of just under $10.5 million — ownership was handed over in mid-May to the primary mortgage holder, Lloyds of London, which quickly repriced the property at $8 million.
Designed by visionary architect John Lautner, and built in 1968 for interior designer Arthur Elrod, the futuristic house — aptly described in marketing materials as a “residential sculpture” — is cinematically sited on a craggy ridge at the south end of Palm Springs, and incorporates huge, natural boulders as walls and room dividers. The circular living room stretches an unequivocally monumental 60 feet in diameter under a vaulted, conical dome ceiling comprising nine angled concrete petals between nine wedge-shaped clerestory windows that flood the room with ambient natural light. A vast, curved wall of smoked glass glides open at the touch of a button and essentially converts the house into a gigantic open-air patio with panoramic desert, city, and mountain views. Current listings show the 8,900-square-foot residence has five bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, a large gym, and a swimming pool that’s partly indoors when the retractable glass wall is closed.
Lautner also designed a larger and more lavish nearby home for Bob Hope. The spaceship-like house, completed in 1980, languished on the market for several years, even after the price was halved from $50 million to $25 million.