Why Liza Minnelli's Childhood Home Has Been Abandoned
One of Hollywood's most influential directors, Vincente Minnelli spent years designing his dream home. Its many rooms served as both a fantasy land for his beloved only child and a testament to his many critically acclaimed films. Over the years, Hollywood socialites enjoyed many parties at the sprawling estate.
Today, the deteriorating mansion barely offers a hint of the opulence that once existed. The dilapidated behemoth is nothing more than a haven for squatters and a playground for urban explorers. What went wrong? Let’s take a look.
A Tip Starts the Story
Los Angeles is full of homes that are small architectural wonders, and many are included in home tours around the famous city. That's why it was especially strange for an anonymous tipster to stumble upon an abandoned mansion that seemed to have no history.
Residence of Hollywood Royalty
The experts at Curbed Los Angeles discovered that the abandoned mansion was owned by Vincente Minnelli, a renowned director of musicals during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The house was built in 1925. Under Minnelli's ownership, it was renovated by John Elgin Woolf, an architect who made his name designing homes in Hollywood.
How Vincente Minnelli Rose to Fame
In 1940, Minnelli signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which allowed him to unleash his creativity on some of the biggest movies of the decade. Cabin in the Sky, released in 1943, is one of his most critically acclaimed films. Minnelli sought to keep the momentum going when he followed up the hit with Meet Me in St. Louis.
The Picture-Perfect Family
Less than a year after their marriage, Minnelli and Garland welcomed their daughter, Liza, into the world. To the outside world, the family seemed to be thriving. Beautiful, successful, wealthy parents had a darling child.
The Newlyweds Fall Out of Love
Despite being a married man, Vincente Minnelli was hopelessly dedicated to his work and his daughter. After long days on set, he returned home with lavish gifts for Liza, and he showered her with almost all of his attention.
The End of Hollywood's Wildest Romance
After decades of being a Hollywood darling, Judy Garland was being passed up by the industry, and she received no consolation at home from a husband who ignored her. When she had an affair with Sidney Luft, another big name in showbiz, it was a way to find solace elsewhere.
The Biggest Home on Crescent Drive
The Minnelli estate was a 5,900-square-foot behemoth that sat proudly on Crescent Drive. There were 19 rooms in total in the sprawling mansion, including six bedrooms and bathrooms along with multiple living rooms.
What Does a Millionaire Buy for His Daughter?
Liza Minnelli spent six months of the year with each of her parents. Vincente was determined to make his six months with his only daughter the best six months of every year. Each year, he bought her a completely new wardrobe.
Playdates at the Minnelli Mansion
All the kids in Hollywood wanted to be friends with Liza Minnelli because the playdates were amazing. Candice Bergen was a child star at the time, and she revealed that Vincente Minnelli had miniature versions of the costumes from his iconic films made for his daughter and her friends.
Liza's Star Power Starts to Shine
In 1976, Vincente Minnelli directed his final film. With less money coming in, maintaining his lavish home became impossible. Although he was still quite the entertainer, his guests started to notice that his home was falling into disrepair.
The Death of a Hollywood Icon
According to some reports, Liza Minnelli had to make a few mortgage payments on the Crescent Drive mansion, where she had lived out her childhood fantasies. Her father was 83, and he was still living in the mansion with his fourth wife.
Secrets from Vincente Minnelli's Will
It wasn’t surprising that Vincente Minnelli's will was extremely favorable to his beloved daughter, Liza. He bequeathed his home to her, and he left her the $1.1 million he had left in financial assets as well.
How Vincente Minnelli's Widow Kept the Mansion
In 1999, Lee Anderson Minnelli was still living in the once fabulous home, and she hadn’t changed a thing in the 13 years since her husband had died. As a Los Angeles Times reporter noted, some of the paintings Vincente Minnelli had started were still left unfinished on an easel.
An Unexpected End to Lee's Stay?
The Crescent Drive mansion was never put on the real estate market. Instead, Liza privately found a buyer after searching for two years. How did the sale work with Vincente Minnelli's will?
Lee Gets Legal
Liza was sued by her 94-year-old stepmother. The lawsuit asserted that Liza had effectively left Lee in a state of destitution and neglect. Lee alleged that Liza turned off the electricity and fired the staff members who were responsible for maintaining the Crescent Drive property.
An Amicable Solution
Instead of going to court, Lee and Liza came to an agreement privately. Lee would remain a lifetime tenant of the Crescent Drive estate. Liza would still sell the home, but the new owners couldn't live there until Lee died.
A Decade of Abandonment
Seven years had passed between the time the new owners purchased the Minnelli mansion and the time they were finally able to start renovating it. Upon Lee's death, Liza Minnelli no longer had any ties to the property, and the new owners could do as they pleased.
What Became of the Minnelli Mansion?
The anonymous tipster who contacted Curbed Los Angeles went inside the home. Clearly, the tipster wasn't the first person to take a look around. If no one had been there since Lee's death, all the things in the home should have been old.
Vandals Take Their Toll
If the facts of the withdrawn lawsuit were true, the groundskeepers had been fired long before Lee died. That provided a partial explanation for the dilapidated current condition of the mansion, but there had to be more to it.
Eerie Graffiti Messages
The graffiti in the old Minnelli home wasn’t entirely random. The name Judy Garland is spray-painted onto the walls of one of the bedrooms, so some of the people who rifled through the property must have known about its previous owners.
Tourists Enter Without Permission
The Minnelli family lived in the mansion, but there were also plenty of props and costumes throughout the house. With bits and pieces of furniture left throughout the house, it’s unclear what was actually used by the family and what was just a prop from a movie.
Why Is There Furniture in the Abandoned Home?
As adamthewoo cautiously walked through the dilapidated mansion, he reached a few conclusions of his own. According to public records, the new owners have never officially taken up residence in the home. So, it would seem reasonable that anything left there belonged to someone in the Minnelli family.
What the Fireplace Reveals
Back in 1999, the mansion was described as a time capsule, remaining just the way Vincente Minnelli had left it. Opened books were left unread, and unworn clothes remained in his closets. There were plenty of family photos at one time, but most personal effects have been removed from the home.
New Trees on an Abandoned Property
As he continued making his way through the mansion, adamthewoo encountered some dangerous conditions. In many of the rooms, the plaster ceilings are falling apart. Any movement could cause the ceiling to collapse on trespassers.
Where Are the Owners?
Although the inside of the home hasn’t been renovated, the new owners have done something to the outside. Photos captured by Google Earth reveal that utility trucks have been at the home from time to time, and they planted the previously mentioned new trees in 2013.
How Much Did the Mansion Cost?
In recent years, people have become famous on YouTube for exploring abandoned buildings. The old Minnelli mansion has made quite a few appearances on YouTube. The new owners of the mansion paid $2.75 million for it more than a decade ago, but they have not lived in it for a single day.
A Look Inside Vincente Minnelli's Private Life
Although most of the home is empty, a few hidden gems remain. In Vincente Minnelli's old bedroom, urban explorers found an antique record player and a collection of records that date back to the ‘40s and ‘50s.
Vestiges of Yesteryear
Because so many people have ventured into the property over the years, it’s likely that some of the things found in the home could have been left there by other people. Still, there are plenty of authentic items that truly belonged to members of the Minnelli family.
Transformation of the Master Bedroom
His talent made Vincente Minnelli nothing short of a national treasure. After he died, Getty Images received permission to photograph his estate in 2002. At the time, his master bedroom had a huge bed, golden curtains and decorative floral lounge chairs.
Hanging in Suspense
Vincente Minnelli's dream home has quite a history. Each of his four wives spent time in the home, and many elements were designed especially to give his beloved daughter the life of her dreams. As his life drew to its end, the home began to decline in grandeur.