A curious tipster has shared these intriguing photos of a sprawling, neglected house on Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills, near the Beverly Hills Hotel, and it turns out they come with a juicy celebrity backstory. The tipster writes: "I've been driving by [the house] for a while, and its Paul Williams-esque style always caught my eye. At some point, about a year ago, new ficus were planted at the street, and I just assumed someone was going to do a big remodel. I recently noticed some torn drapes through an upstairs window, and my curiosity was piqued ... Clearly various squatters have been in residence, and some of the trash seemed fairly recent." After a little bit of digging, it turns out that the 5,800-square-foot estate, built in 1925 and redesigned by noted Hollywood Regency architect John Elgin Woolf, was once owned by the late stage and screen director Vincente Minnelli, and that the house was fairly recently at the center of a bitter public battle between Vincente's daughter Liza Minnelli and her step-mother Lee Minnelli that resulted in a lawsuit and kept the house in sale limbo for four years.
Vincente Minnelli died in the Beverly Hills house in 1986, willing his widow Lee lifetime use of the property, but also leaving Liza officially in charge of his estate. In 2000, Liza decided to put it up for sale, reportedly offering to purchase a condo for her step-mother. Lee refused and a drawn-out drama ensued: The house sold in 2002, but Lee refused to go anywhere. At an impasse with her step-mother, Liza stopped paying electricity bills and everything else; the staff kept working for free. The same year the house sold, 94-year-old Lee filed a lawsuit against Liza, charging her step-daughter with "breach of contract, elder abuse and infliction of emotional distress" for trying to kick her out of the mansion. At the time all of this was happening, Liza was getting married to wax-man David Gest, and the lavish festivities were ammunition for her step-mother's attorneys. From the lawsuit (via I Am Not A Stalker): "While defendant is honeymooning all over the world, having fed 850 of her closest friends a 12-foot cake, plaintiff is alone in a cold, dark house, at age 94."
The lawsuit was eventually dropped later in 2001, and an elaborate arrangement was reached with the new buyers allowed Liza to pay them rent so that Lee could stay at the house until her death, at which point, the owners could finally move in. The house didn't close escrow until 2006—four years after the sale began. (According to Redfin, the house was purchased for $2.33 million.) When Lee passed away in 2009, the indecisive new owners first talked about restoring the place, then discussed razing it—neither of which ever got underway, by the looks of things. Until they get their act together, it remains a super-cool, very creepy place for squatters to sleep and scrawl on the walls. Take a tour:
· An escrow that time forgot [LAT]
· Vincente Minnelli's Former Abandoned Mansion [IANAS]