SELLER: Estate of Gore Vidal
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 4,782 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms plus guesthouse
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Though he died over three years ago at the age of 86, the executors of Gore Vidal’s estate are just now selling his residence in L.A.’s historic and centrally located Outpost Estates neighborhood that has just landed on the open market with an asking price of $5,695,000. Our research indicates the occasionally controversial novelist — also a nimble and insightful essayist, enthusiastic historian, and lefty-liberal socio-political critic — purchased the property in March 1977 for $149,500, an amount that nowadays is barely enough to buy a crappy one-bedroom apartment in a dumpy Los Angeles neighborhood let alone a dignified Mediterranean villa on half of an acre in a prosperous, celeb-favored neighborhood conveniently nestled into the foothills above Hollywood.
Set behind gates and largely obscured from the street behind a thicket of towering palm trees on a nearly half-acre parcel, the residence was originally built in 1929 and currently measures in at 4,782 square feet, per listing details, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms plus a self-contained guesthouse atop a detached three car garage. A covetable bevy of original architectural details — thick plaster walls, terra-cotta floor tiles, hand-carved fireplaces, and scrolled wrought iron accents — are found throughout residence’s main living spaces that include a voluminous double-height foyer with exposed beam ceiling and an elegantly proportioned formal living room with fireplace and French doors that lead to a Saltillo-tiled courtyard terrace. The formal dining room also has French doors to the main terrace as well as an adjoining lounge under a groin-vaulted ceiling and in addition to a paneled library lined with glass-fronted bookcases there’s also a separate den also lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The kitchen and bathrooms appear in listing photographs to be well maintained if a far cry from decoratively au courant but we imagine even if the next owners opt to undertake a meticulous restoration the existing residence they will be gutted and replaced. Up on the hillside behind the garage and guesthouse, at the end of a long, booty-straining Saltillo-tiled staircase, a secluded swimming pool is set into a tree-ringed and sun-dappled clearing.
Mister Vidal and Howard Austen, his companion of more than 50 years, spent decades living as expats in Italy before they returned to the United States in 2003 — Austen died shortly thereafter — and took up residence in the Outpost Estates home that was unsuccessfully put up for sale in early 2011 with an asking price of $3.495 million, a missed bargain to be sure if the property sells anywhere near its current asking price. “La Rondinaia,” Mister Vidal’s fabled, cliff-side cleaving villa in Ravello, along Italy’s nerve-wrackingly gorgeous Amalfi Coast, the was sold in 2004 and, as this property gossip first revealed a few weeks ago, recently made for sale by it’s current owner — widely reported to be a boutique hotelier — with an asking price of a bit more than $21.1 million.
Listing photos: Westside Estate Agency