TheStreet.com reports that Rudolph Valentino’s mansion, Falcon Lair, located in the hills above Benedict Canyon overlooking Beverly Hills, is up for sale — for those who can shell out US$7.95 million. Valentino, the star of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Sheik, bought the house for $175,000 (approx. $2 million adjusting for inflation) in 1925. Billionairess Doris Duke owned the house for nearly five decades, though the property was eventually bought from the Duke estate.
Nicholas Yulico’s article explains that “The current owner says he has spent millions transforming the house since purchasing it in 1998. Renovations are still under way. From the outside, the house will look roughly the same as when Valentino had it built in the 1920s, highlighted by its Mediterranean stucco and red tile roof. But the interior is undergoing significant updating.”
Falcon Lair was to be Valentino’s “retreat from public life, his castle and the palace to share with his lady love, Natacha Rambova,” explains Donna Hill on her Valentino website. “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.”
Addendum: Falcon Lair was bulldozed in 2006. One more piece of Los Angeles history that has literally gone to dust. According to Donna, "only the outer gates/fence structure and garage area remain extant and recognizable from Valentino’s time."