Among all those splendid pieces of real estate in Beverly Hills, there is one particularly impressive home that has been deteriorating. The famous Hollywood director Vincente Minnelli and his family’s former mansion is now nothing more than a deserted estate in ruins. The unkempt garden and decaying walls are witnesses to the ugly legal battle that had diminished a once beautiful mansion to its sorry state.
From The Ground Up
In the mid-20th century, Vincente Minnelli started moving up the ladder in the film making industry by bringing in several classic musicals. One example is the 1951 film An American in Paris which eventually bagged the Academy Award for Best Picture. After seven years, that feat was replicated with his film Gigi which also earned him an award for Best Director.
Vincente Minnelli was born in 1903 in Chicago but most of his childhood years were spent moving between Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. His family ultimately decided to settle down in Delaware. After he graduated from high school, the would-be director went back to Chicago. He started to involve himself with theater work and was employed with jobs that entail costume and set designs.
His immense passion for theater led to his first work as a director. A musical called At Home Abroad. The musical started production in 1935 and had a successful run for two years. Minnelli’s reputation as a director grew more and more. This allowed him to land a job in Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, which would be the first step to making his name a fixture in the film industry.
His First Wife
Minnelli had four wives during his lifetime. His first wife was actress Judy Garland whom he married on June 15, 1945. Garland, similar to her husband, has several film credits under her belt with several recognitions as well. She earned a Special Tony and a Golden Globe for her works. The actress is most famous for portraying the character of Dorothy in the 1939 The Wizard of Oz. Her portrayal bagged her a Juvenile Oscar award.
Minnelli and Garland met while they were filming for his 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis. The two of them would work together again for a few times in the years that followed. Judy Garland also achieved success as a singer with a handful of studio albums to her credit. She was the first woman to bring home the Grammy Album of the Year award in 1961. Two years after that, she was nominated for an Emmy for hosting her TV show called The Judy Garland Show.
Garland and Minnelli only had one child – Liza Minnelli. She was born on March 12, 1946 and would rise to stardom herself. In 1972, she received the Academy Award for her performance in the musical Cabaret. She is also renowned as a singer and has held performances in Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall during the ‘70s and up to the 90s.
The marriage between Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland did not have a happy ending. The two divorced in 1951. Their marriage woes were said to be caused by Garland’s tendency to engage in self-destructive behavior. She was plagued by anxiety, depression, and insecurity and was reported to take amphetamines and sleeping pills. After MGM ended her contract, Garland underwent a nervous breakdown and attempted to kill herself. She also started seeing another man which eventually led to an end to her marriage.
As mentioned before, Minnelli got married three more times after he divorced Judy Garland. He got married to Lee Anderson, his last wife, in 1980. At 83, six years later, the director succumbed to emphysema and pneumonia and passed away in his mansion in Beverly Hills. After his death, the ownership of the mansion he left behind has remained disputed.
A Million Dollar Inheritance
He left the property, which was reported to be valued at $1.1 million at the time of his death, to his daughter Liza. However, he also gave Lee Anderson lifetime use for the house. While Lee Anderson resided in the mansion, Liza was paying the house bills. In 2000, Liza Minnelli placed the house on the market without Lee knowing about it. As compensation for losing the house, she offered Lee to live in a $450,000 condo instead. Lee did not want to leave.
The mansion was sold after a few years, but Lee was still adamant in staying in the property. Liza finally stopped paying the bills and fired to household staff to compel her stepmother to leave. This resulted in Lee filing a lawsuit against Liza which would become a brief legal battle.
Breach Of Contract
The lawsuit claimed that Liza breached her contract and had caused immense emotional pain upon her stepmother. Court papers had established that transferring the 94-year-old “will no doubt be the death of her.” Liza’s wedding to David Gest in 2002 did not make things any better.
Due to the lawsuit, Liza took back Lee’s invitation to her wedding. However, it was the extravagance of the event that supposedly filled Lee with indignation. The lawsuit referenced to the wedding and stated, “While the defendant is honeymooning all over the world, having fed 850 of her closest friends a 12-foot cake, [the] plaintiff is alone in a cold, dark house at age 94.”
In April 2002, one month after her wedding, Liza responded to the lawsuit. She spoke with Army Archerd for Daily Variety and clarified, “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.”
This legal battle came to a quick termination despite all the family conflicts. Lee had called off the lawsuit after Liza supposedly called her and invited her to dinner. The two of them settled on an agreement for the mansion. Liza would pay rent for the mansion so that Lee could remain her home. After Lee passed away, only then were the new owner able to assume complete control of the property.
Four years after the initial offer from the buyers, the transaction finally concluded in 2006. Lee passed away three years later and a month before she reached 100. The new owners of the mansion were finally able to reside in the $2.75 million estate. They had plans for a renovation of the property.
Unfortunately, these plans seemed to have been forgotten as no renovation eventually took place. There were speculations about plans to take down the estate and build a brand-new mansion, but it never transpired as well. Since then, the mansion has served as a house to many squatters.
Now, let’s peek into a little bit of the mansion’s history. It was originally built in 1925, during the time that the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was starting to gain popularity. Some of the notable elements of this architectural style are terracotta, flat roofs, and smooth plastered walls. However, between 1944 and 1953, the mansion underwent a renovation and was redesigned by John Elgin Woolf following a French Louis XV style.
The mansion has a total of 19 rooms which include six bedrooms and six bathrooms. It is located at 912 N. Crescent Drive, CA. The house alone covers approximately 5,900 square feet while the whole property is a huge piece of land with over 42,500 square feet. It’s definitely a huge place and perfect for a celebrity. After his divorce from Judy Garland in 1951, Vincente Minnelli moved into the mansion.
Liza alternated between living with her father and with her mother when she was young. Half of the year was spent in her father’s huge mansion. She enjoyed living in the mansion, no doubt. Vincente adored his daughter and even commissioned an artist named Tony Duquette to construct a playhouse for her in their backyard.
It was also reported that Minnelli ordered several outfits created for his daughter. All this made her playhouse a favorite during playtime. Murphy Brown sitcom star Candice Bergen even talked about it in her autobiography. According to Bergen, “I remember always asking to go to Liza’s to play dress-up because in her closet hung little girls’ dreams.”
The Los Angeles Times profiled Lee Minnelli in 2000 and described a picture of the house she lived in. The Los Angeles Times reported on the “vast dressing rooms” and “python-skin-covered walls,” and the array of designer items in Lee’s closet. Her personal suite was supposedly “smothered by books, papers, catalogs and, of course, many framed photos.”
Lee did not carry out massive changes in the house even after her husband passed away. Vincente Minnelli’s easel and paint were reported to have stood in the exact same spot where he originally left them. The house also had a room that displayed mementos from his career. It included the Best Director Academy Award for Gigi.
At Its Prime
Knowing all these, it’s easier to imagine what the mansion would have looked like at its prime. When the director first bought his home in the 1950s, it must have been an impressive sight especially with the renovations done by Woolf. Today, the mansion appears dingy and dilapidated.
Compared to what the Los Angeles Times described in their article, the photos of the current condition of the house show that it has definitely seen better days. After Lee Minnelli passed away, it seems the mansion slowly deteriorated. What must have been beautiful gardens once now turned into overgrown grass, and the unkempt bushes imply the absence of a caretaker for quite a while.
There’s more. Among the wild and overgrown gardens lies an outdoor swimming pool. However, the pool also suffered neglect and is in extremely poor condition. The swimming pool sits empty and seems like a cave more than a pool. The sight of the empty pool is an eerie one especially when you recall the celebrities who must have enjoyed it before. It’s nothing more than a reminder of a golden time.
There’s really nothing much to see in the remainder of the property. There are rubble and trash scattered on the ground and the marble columns have collapsed. It was hard to think that a family of famous people once resided there given the condition of its exteriors. No one would have guessed it used to be the home of one of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.
Not Much Of A Difference
The interiors of the house are not much better than the outside. For example, the kitchen was in a more than dismal condition. Drawers were pulled out and stacked on top of one another without care and doors of the cupboards have been wrenched off their hinges. Shattered dishes, broken furniture, and other random items were found scattered throughout the kitchen. The sink was also in calling for a cleanup.
A property of this size that has been long abandoned makes for a somewhat unsettling site. You get the typical eerie vibe from the decaying structure that’s unmistakable even if you just look at photos. The portions of the carpets that have survived are incredibly filthy. Some parts were ripped off from the ground only to expose old padding that’s also too old and rotten to be useful.
“Judy Garland” was found scribbled on a wall upstairs. Since the house had been abandoned for so long and many trespassers must have come and go, it’s impossible to find out who wrote them. But it’s not surprising that some curious snooper might have discovered who previously resided the mansion and scrawled the name on it. In any case, the piece of vandalism took one back an image of distinguished personalities who were connected to the deserted mansion.
State Of Decay
The whole mansion truly looks like it’s in an abysmal state of irreparable decay. Doors were falling off the hinges, there were multiple holes in the walls, and stacks of papers were strewn all over the floors. Although we cannot confirm it, it’s doubtful that Lee Minnelli left this way when she passed away. In the years that followed Lee Minnelli’s death, random onlookers and squatters have possibly ransacked the house.
The sordid state extended to the master bedroom as well. Most of the furniture were gone such as the bed and bedside tables and just a couple of pieces were left behind. More garbage littered the floors and the room was dreadfully filthy. The plaster from the ceiling were also collapsing and additional holes were found in the walls.
It was hard to pinpoint the function of some of the rooms in the mansion. For example, there was a room that had a mattress, an exercise bike, and a bathtub altogether as well as other seemingly random items like a fire extinguisher. With the condition the house was in, it’s harder to visualize a clear picture of its previous residents.
Despite this fact, there are still some people who try their luck. Since the house had been deserted for so long, more and more people are trooping over to look around. A YouTuber who goes by the name adamthewoo gave himself a tour of the mansion in 2014. During that time, he found out that there was no supply of running water. It’s not a surprise that the water supply was cut off since no one had lived in the house since 2009.
Old VHS tapes, TV sets, and a mismatch of other items were found in one room. The YouTuber’s theory was that Liza was not interested in retrieving her stepmother’s belongings. He explained this in a website for urban and industrial ruins called Abandoned Explorers.
“Maybe Liza retrieved some things she wanted from the home, but she certainly wouldn’t be interested in old furniture [or] TVs,” adamthewoo explained on the website. “So those were probably just left since the house needed a complete renovation anyway, and that was up to the owners.” It looks like the plan for a now much-needed renovation simply did not materialize.
One of the rooms housed a fireplace that definitely looks worse for the wear. In the 2014 YouTube video, the two men looking around the mansion found the fireplace looking like it had been used recently. This gives credit to the belief that squatters have been occupying the house since it was abandoned in 2009. The fireplace was situated in the middle of a wall covered with floor to ceiling glass that’s now grimy.
The video continued to show the two men touring around the property where they also find remnants of luxury that once blanketed the house. An old television set, some chairs, and a couple of cushions were the only items in the dining room. In other rooms, there were pieces of furniture haphazardly scattered such as a bright green couch. Some areas of the house had huge portions of the ceiling gone.
Despite all this, it seems that some kind of work happened in the house. Aerial photos from Bing showed dumpsters and utility trucks parked in the vicinity of the house at some point in time. But as we all know, any kind of plans they had never come about. Some people thought that local authorities may be involved and stopping the mansion from being torn down.
Abandoned Explorers suggested that this might be why the mansion has been abandoned for so long. The writer wondered, “Was this why it had been basically left open to squatters for years in hopes it would be accidentally burned down or be destroyed by vandals beyond repair?” For whatever reason, the mansion was again abandoned and continues to crumble despite its history as home to some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Of course, the Minnelli mansion is not the only property that has been abandoned to deteriorate. There is a huge manor in Oxfordshire, England that was the home of rock royalty. Explorers have taken a look at what’s inside the deserted property and revealed astonishing videos.
Rock Star Residence
The vast estate was previously the luxurious home of a prominent rock star. It was also once served as a hotel and a rest home for the elderly. Eventually, it was deserted including the house that was the heart of the whole property. A lot of people had no idea what was behind the manor’s closed doors. Now, a video has appeared online and gives us a closer look inside.
The sprawling manor now remains as a shell of its former opulence. Its forlorn exteriors, however, conceal an important story. The grandness of the mansion is enough to attract attention, but it was, in fact, one of its previous owners that made the property well-known. The property was previously the home of Ian Gillan, the lead singer of Deep Purple. But alas, it was not meant to be with the rockstar forever.
The manor was first built during the Victorian era. How did Gillan become its owner? Let’s travel back in time a bit to really know the story. Ian Gillan was born on August 19, 1945, and lived in London while he was growing up. When he was young, he was being immersed in the wave of new music that flooded England during the 60s. The exposure to music at a young age will serve as an important pillar in building a successful career.
The Road To Fame
In 1965, Gillan became a member of the band called Episode Six. He had taken the first step on his road to stardom. The band did get to meet some legendary acts and even went on tour with Dusty Springfield. In terms of commercial success, however, the group did not gain much. In 1969, Gillan and Roger Glover, one of his Episode Six bandmates, joined Deep Purple. They were the band’s vocalist and bassist, respectively.
The group Deep Purple was established two years prior and had even thought about going by the name Roundabout. No one knows how different things would have turned out if they pushed through with that name for the band. It was guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who suggested the name Deep Purple which was supposedly the title of his grandmother’s favorite song.
The 70s was Deep Purple’s breakout era which one could attribute to the new members, the new band name, or both. Gillan and Glover moving to Deep Purple was serendipitous since it’s the reason they achieved the fame they have today. The two of them are considered household names both by rock fans and the bigger public.
Gillan’s unique vocals and music style became a clear-cut trademark of the brand and he himself gained significant attention because of it. His technique and style also set the standards higher for his contemporaries. Music reporter Malcolm Dome even declared, “Gillan remains completely in control of his voice whilst going completely insane.” If you take a look at the vocalist’s Facebook page, it also includes that until now his vocals are “instantly recognizable.”
With Gillan’s vocals taking the lead, the band went on to make big waves in the music industry. Fireball, the band’s fifth studio album, topped the UK charts. Their song “Smoke on the Water” from their sixth album Machine Head cemented their popularity in the industry. Deep Purple experienced various changes in their membership roster and ultimately the band went on hiatus for eight years long.
Many had thought that the group had disbanded but in the early 90s, the band decided to reunite and record more music. Deep Purple was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 and officially sealed their status as icons in the music industry. Both Gillan and Glover are considered part of the band’s contemporary members.
Now, let’s focus a bit on the man who owned the iconic voice. According to his Facebook page biography, Gillan’s interests aside from music include writing, hiking, soccer, and getting updated on his family and the news. What they didn’t include in that biography is that the singer has an affinity for property development. Gillan even spent close to 750,000 bucks for one property – this abandoned manor specifically.
In The Countryside
Gillian made the massive transaction in 1973. Back then, he must have considerable income from the peak of Deep Purple’s fame. The rock star reportedly spent £100,000 on a huge supply of brick and mortar in the countryside. That amount is estimated to be $130,000 with the current exchange rate. The grandiose estate Gillan purchased was located in a town called Wallingford in Oxfordshire.
Aside from the hefty price tag that came with the house, Gillan and his then-girlfriend Zoe Dean also spent a ton of money on various renovations around the property that amounted. These projects apparently amounted to almost $500,000. Maybe some of that money was spent on soundproofing the walls? Deep Purple earned the “Globe’s Loudest Band” title from the Guinness Book of World Records a year before Gillan bought the house.
Gillan must have held a lot of parties with some of his peers in the mansion situated on the bank of the Thames River. If his neighbors didn’t know yet they had a celebrity nearby, the huge, guitar-shaped swimming pool must have tipped them off. If a pool in a guitar shape doesn’t scream rock n roll, then what does?
No More Money
However, it wasn’t long before Gillan’s lavish lifestyle came to an abrupt end. His finances were in shambles and he almost filed for bankruptcy. In 1995, a couple became the new owners of the property. Svenia and Paul Franklin turned the property into a hotel called “The Springs”. The name alluded to the view of the nearby lake which was supplied with water by a stream. Gillan revealed that he was later invited to take a look at the new appearance of the house but that he declined it because of the dress code.
The rock star’s old abode has stepped into the next chapter of its history. The rooms upstairs that might have hosted VIP celebrities were transformed into guest accommodations. Once a private mansion, the property now hosted wedding events for a few privileged couples.
And yet, it seems like the mansion’s operation were slowly coming to an end. Almost 20 years after the Franklins first bought the property, they decided to cease operations of the property. It was getting increasingly hard for the couple to finance the upkeep of the whole property resulting in its eventual shutdown. After the hotel closed down, the mansion was soon forgotten.
What Lies Behind
Nowadays, the glory days seem to be so far behind. However, a recent video has cropped up and gave a peek at what was behind closed doors. It tickled the viewers into imagining what it must have been like to live there when the mansion was at its peak. Of course, the video revealed the current condition of the house as well as the current problems surrounding it. At the moment, Gillan’s former home is just a shadow of its former grandeur and what must be enormous expenses for simply maintaining it. But how were people able to access the property to record it?
A man from the Hampshire, the county nearby, found a means to get inside. This man was Warren Tepper and one of his hobbies is a somewhat eccentric one. He loves going into abandoned locations to explore and record his discoveries. He has his own YouTube channel named Warren Urbexing. The name was derived from the mixture of the two words “urban” and “exploring.”
There are people who will think that it’s a bit questionable when you enter someone else’s property. Tepper does not think that this is the case. He was interviewed by the BBC in 2018 and he claimed, “Nobody actually seems to care about the buildings anymore, or they’ve just been left there to rot for years and years and years.” Tepper further explained when asked about the fact that exploring abandoned properties could land him in a mess, “I don’t see that being a problem as long as I’m not breaking and entering when I get there.”
Despite the dubiousness of his hobby, the risks that come with the exploration are Tepper’s to worry about. He wrote in a caption for his video, “Do not attempt this yourself. If you do decide to explore, please make sure you tell someone where you are going. Try and go with a friend.” And true to his words, Tepper went on this exploration with Tazer, his associate.
What’s Hiding Inside?
Now, what did the two of them record for the viewer’s consumption? When you play the video, it first shows a montage of how the years that went by had affected the property. One of the angles they used was an aerial view of what seems like a window upstairs. It gave a bird’s eye view of the whole place including thick unkempt gardens and dirty pool. The camera draws back through a broken window to reveal the inside of the house. The interiors have definitely started to deteriorate.
The camera turns to record Tepper saying, “We’re in a massive mansion.” And it’s the truth. There was an empty room that appeared to be just a portion of a massive landing. Even though it was completely empty, there was a huge fireplace in it. The mantelpiece was decorated with an ornate swirl pattern carved into the wood.
The stairs had white treads and were covered in purple carpet, perhaps installed when the property was transformed into a hotel. The changes to the staircase definitely do not exhibit “rock ‘n’ roll.” There was also a sign that pointed to the men’s restroom and must have been another addition to the hotel’s operations.
The pair continues to explore deeper into the mansion. They found a room with a wide window where light passed through and fell on an empty fireplace and the grimy carpet. Tepper took notice of the “little chandeliers hanging” that would have lit up the wood paneling. The white ornate ceiling was also a sight to behold and completely fascinated the explorers. They referred to it as proper, decent old-school stuff.” Thankfully, the room appears to be quite safe from the mold found in some parts of the mansion.
The next footage shows Tepper looking around to marvel at the woodworks when something caught his attention. “Oh wow! Look at this,” he says animatedly. “Proper brass screens. So that’s all brass with a lump of glass behind it – so that would have been to put some ornaments or something in there.” The person behind the camera swings it open to reveal an empty space where there were probably shelves at some point.
It now becomes more and more obvious that the building’s splendor has already dwindled. But when they captured a sunlit corridor, the charm of the mansion can be understood better. One can imagine guests and perhaps celebrities sporting their bathing suits and walking down the hall. The mansions had multiple large windows that filtered in sunlight and offered a perfect view of the golf course and green fields.
Outside the buildings, the landscaping was overtaking the rest of the property. On one of the stone balconies, weeds growing through and an old hose was strewn on the ground. The white balustrade banister, however, shines amid the dirt and mold that covered the house. From this position, a lake can be viewed peeking through the trees. During the mansion’s heydays, it must have been enjoyable to sit and relax while admiring the scenery.
In Total Chaos
The video then transitions into another room inside that showed just how much the mansion has deteriorated inside. It’s incredibly distinct just how much damage it took over the years of neglect. This room had a sink lying on the floor. The carpet that could have been brown originally was now covered in fungus. Some books were scattered on the floor as well. One of the walls had a long streak of green mold across. The hotel room looks like something you would see in a horror film.
Decrepit rooms with decaying carpet compared to fancy names create a stark disparity. The doors were labeled with plaques with engraved names such as “Mayfair”, “Chelsea”, and “Belgravia” which are upscale districts in London. One suite was even called “Ascot”. It’s a well-known horse race venue that’s also quite near Wallingford. Only people from a certain background would patronize these suites and those locations.
Tepper then proceeds to enter a suite named “Temple”. He noticed a sign saying that the room had a smoking restriction. The smoking ban seems more probable to be part of the hotel’s policy instead of Gillan’s personal preference. Although all these are mere guesses, the Deep Purple vocalist has certainly been seen with a cigarette before.
Inside Of It
The video goes deeper into the room. A beam of light shines on a couple of mattresses on the floor. Tepper claims, “You can worship the god of mold in here.” Due to the degree of decay, the original color of the carpet was tough to decipher. It could have been lime green with some purples. The deterioration of the carpets is another reminder of how cruel time can be.
The current condition of the room is poles apart from a review in 1988. The Daily Telegraph wrote, “Our bed, complete with bedside clock, is supremely comfortable, with fine sheets and decent blankets.” Now, the room is filled with damp air and mold creeping up the walls. It highly unlikely that anyone would call it comfortable for sleep.
Clearly, the room was part of the previous hotel’s roster of accommodations. There was a disconnected phone, chairs, and a side table that were left behind. The lampshade was also tilted at a weird angle added to the sense of disarray.
The floral print curtains also looked like it tried to match the mess that the room was in. The light was coming through the yellow curtains that were half drawn. There was a view of the wild vegetation outside while nature kept engulfing the interiors as demonstrated by the amount of green mold present in the room. The neglected rooms are in much need of deep cleaning and the pair hung a “Please make up room now” sign on the doorknob as they left.
The duo then went into the “Ascot” room. A gloomy path lit by the torchlight led to the room and the footage gives a view of the expansive suite. An exposed wire jutting out from the wall first greeted the visitors. Some of the windows had broken glass while others were covered with boards.
The video makes an abrupt shift to a view outside and the duo warily leave the house. Tepper explains, “We’ve got to be very careful, because we’ve just seen security inside, so we got out before we got caught.” Nonetheless, they still managed to capture some final shots of the property.
As the video comes to an end, it gives a closer look at the guitar-shaped pool. The theme can be seen clearly with a soundhole, the neck, and frets painted at the bottom of the pool. Once a main highlight of the property, the forgotten pool is now also covered in green mold. A sun lounger and a rubber ring had the same misfortune drenched in muddy water. Here, the plants were creeping down to the bottom of the pool.
A Hope For The Impossible
In general, the old country home is in a complete state of disorder. The more than dismal condition is evidence that no plans for any sort of restoration had been in place recently. Svenia Franklin revealed to The Oxford Mail in 2014 that the renovation of the property would go up into the millions. However, it seems like a leisure company called Darwin Escapes, which owns the golf course nearby, is trying to tackle the financial challenge.
Perhaps we’ll see it brought back to its greatness someday. The comments under Tepper’s video had similar thoughts. A message from a user named Wendy Cunningham’s reads, “Love this and hope they can rescue it somehow.” Another use, however, was less optimistic given the size of the mansion and said, “You’d rattle around a bit in a place that size.”
Commenting about his exploration hobby, he confessed to BBC, “One hundred percent I’m addicted to it. Walking around in an old abandoned building, you can’t beat the feeling; it just gives you a massive adrenaline rush.” Well, it looks like Tepper’s abandoned house tours will carry on.