Once the family home of Vincente Minnelli and his darling daughter Liza Minnelli, the Minnelli mansion is unrecognizable today. Minnelli first moved into the Beverly Hills home back in the 1950s, and since then, the house has seen a death, a lawsuit, and a complete reversal of fortune. An inside look of the home today reveals whispers of Old Hollywood glamour. What happened to the Minnelli mansion?
When an anonymous tipster contacted Curbed Los Angeles, a comprehensive real estate website, about a sprawling, yet obviously neglected Beverly Hills mansion on Crescent Drive, they didn’t know much about the property. But after that first fateful time they’d noticed the estate, the tipster couldn’t help but drive past the home many times in the months and years that followed.
Drawn to the seemingly vacant “Paul Williams-esque style” mansion, there was still traces of its one-time glory. Clearly the house had a history, but they’d have no idea the home would be haunted by tales of Old Hollywood and a rather recent lawsuit.
A little bit of research conducted over at Curbed Los Angeles revealed that the house had once belonged to none other than musical movie director Vincente Minnelli and his family — Hollywood royalty. Initially built in 1925, the house was redesigned by the famed Hollywood Regency architect John Elgin Woolf.
While little is known of any earlier tenants at Crescent Drive, the house was first purchased by the famed director in the mid 1950s. At the time Minnelli’s career was hitting new heights and his star was on the rise. Privately however, his personal life was becoming increasingly more tumultuous.
Minnelli’s directing career really took off a decade before he moved his family into the Beverly Hills home. First signing with the career-making studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1940, Minnelli started earning a reputation as an auteur after completing his first film Cabin in the Sky in 1943.
The next year would be pivotal for both Minnelli’s professional and personal life, when filming began on his next major motion picture, Meet Me in St. Louis. On set Minnelli fell for the film’s lead, singer and actress Judy Garland. Married within a year, the couple’s lives changed the day their daughter was born.
Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland were married in June 1945, and by March 12, 1946, their darling (and ultimately only) daughter Liza Minnelli was born. Immediately she became the center of her parents’ lives. While the little family may have looked like a happy Hollywood ending, the reality was a lot less idyllic.
Minnelli continued to helm hits for MGM, meanwhile, married life wasn’t what it looked like in one of his movies. As noted in a piece by The New Yorker, Garland was suffering from anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Additionally, Garland had another secret — one that would ultimately tear the family apart.
As Garland was suffering from her own issues, Minnelli seemed to have only two priorities. According to Garland herself “he lived to work,” and he lived to lavish his then-only daughter Liza Minnelli. Alas, with work and Liza taking up all of his time, there was apparently little room left over for his ever-so-recent great love, Judy Garland.
Garland’s battle with her personal demons grew increasingly more worrisome. After being released from her contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer things would only get worse, including two eventual attempts to take her own life. By 1950, and a mere five years into the marriage, Garland and Minnelli’s relationship was on the rocks.
Released from Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and feeling adrift in an unhappy marriage, Garland began having an affair with show businessman Sidney Luft. Garland and Minnelli ultimately called it quits, and were divorced in 1951. That year would actually prove to be pivotal for Minnelli, beyond the dissolution of his marriage.
Shortly after the split Minnelli would win his first Academy Award for An American In Paris, and moved into the Beverly Hills estate. In its full glory, the home was an impressive acquisition. It would have been near impossible at the time to imagine what would become of the property in the years to come.
The new Minnelli home was comfortably situated on Crescent Drive, and spanned an expansive 5,900 square-feet. The 19 room mansion boasted six bedrooms, six bathrooms, living rooms, a dining room and more. Minnelli and his second wife, Georgette Magnani were living the life of true A-list celebrities.
In a profile conducted by the Los Angeles Times many decades later, it was noted that the home featured vast dressing rooms, and rooms dedicated to housing mementos from Minnelli’s many movies. Still, Minnelli wanted the estate to be perfect for his beloved daughter, Liza, and so, turning the home into a dream house for Liza was of the utmost importance.
After her parents’ divorce, a young Liza spent half of the year with her mother, Judy Garland, and half of the year with her father, Vincente Minnelli. Minnelli took every opportunity he had with his daughter to dote upon her. According to Minnelli’s biographer Emanuel Levy, the director commissioned new outfits for her every year – no expense was spared when it came to Liza.
Minnelli commissioned stage and film artist Tony Duquette to design a huge playhouse for Liza which was built within the sprawling estate’s 42,500 square feet of land. Minnelli was living large, but little did he know, his luck wouldn’t hold out.
As Liza grew up in the incredible Beverly Hills mansion, her childhood home was a hotspot for other stars her age. Actress Candice Bergen recalls the house in its glory days, saying, “I remember always asking to go to Liza’s to play dress-up…Liza’s father had had the most famous leading women’s costumes from MGM movies copied by the designers themselves — all scaled down to perfect six-year-old sizes.”
But, just as Liza wouldn’t stay little forever, neither would Minnelli’s standing as an in-demand director. By the late 1960s/early 70s, with Liza moved out and onto his third wife, Minnelli’s funds were dwindling, and his house was the first thing to take a hit.
By 1976 Minnelli had directed his last film. As his career wound down, the theatrically excessive manner he’d been living was no longer possible. Biographer Mark Griffin wrote in “A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli” that “Some of Minnelli’s friends noticed that the house on Crescent Drive looked rather ‘threadbare.’”
But, just as Minnelli’s money and starpower were fading, his daughter Liza was rapidly rising in the ranks of Hollywood’s must-have stars, fresh off an Academy Award win for best actress for her work in Cabaret. According to some reports, it was Liza that came to her father’s rescue.
Once the place Liza went to to live out her Hollywood fantasies, her childhood home now needed a little help. Some outlets suggest that Liza made a few mortgage payments on the Beverly Hills Minnelli mansion. Now living there with his fourth wife, Lee Anderson Minnelli, Vincente Minnelli was unwell at age 83.
Liza went back to the Crescent Drive house she’d grown up in to spend some time with her dear director father. Although only for a few days before flying off to France for a performance. Sadly, Vincente Minnelli passed away shortly thereafter. What would become of the longtime Minnelli mansion?
After Vincente Minnelli passed away, his will proved to be rather revealing. Just as he had always put his daughter first in life, his will stated that the house belonged to his beloved eldest daughter, Liza Minnelli. Except, there was one, very crucial stipulation.
The $1.1 million estate was Liza’s, outright, and $100,000 was to be left for his last wife, Lee, with the added instruction that Lee was to be allowed to live on the property for as long as she liked. At first, this arrangement seemed to suit both ladies, but unfortunately, that wouldn’t always be the case.
By 1999 Vincente Minnelli had been gone 13 years, and just as his will had instructed, his widow Lee had been living in the Crescent Drive mansion, all alone. That year Lee was profiled by the Los Angeles Times in her home, and the interviewer got a glimpse into how the house had aged.
As the reporter noted, “His widow has changed almost nothing in their home… Even his paints and easel are where he left them in his dressing room.” The house was still essentially a time capsule by 2002, the year Liza finally sold her childhood home, and the year Lee sued her step-daughter.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Liza had quietly begun looking for a buyer for the Beverly Hills estate in 2000, ultimately selling it in 2002. But if the house no longer belonged to a Minnelli, what was to happen to Lee?
As Liza told a journalist over at the Daily Variety, “My father left me the house, saying ‘It is my wish if you sell the house that you move her to a residence.’” Having finally found a buyer for the Crescent Drive mansion, Liza knew Lee would need to be looked after. She offered Lee a $450,000 tax-free condo, but Lee surprised Liza with her response.
Lee responded to the sale of the house by suing her step-daughter. The lawsuit alleged that Liza had the electricity turned off, dismissed all the groundskeepers, and that the neglect of the home had led Lee to suffer from “extreme stress, humiliation, embarrassment and worry.”
Needless to say, Lee rejected Liza’s plan to move her into a condo. The lawsuit further alleged that “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.” However, a mere month after serving Liza with the lawsuit, Lee withdrew it. What had changed?
Liza and Lee had decided to work out their issues without legal counsel, and Lee got what she wanted, she stayed in her husband’s old house. After the lawsuit delayed the real estate proceedings, Liza sold the house officially in 2004. Still, the new homeowners couldn’t take possession until Lee left voluntarily, or died.
By the time escrow closed on the house in 2006, Lee was 98 years old, and Liza was paying rent to the new owners. It wasn’t until 2009 that Lee passed away, and the house was no longer Liza’s responsibility. Surely, the new owners had big plans for the now-aged estate?
Back in 2006, Beverly Hills real estate agent Sheila Rose told the Times that although Lee was still very much alive and living in the house, “The buyers will eventually move in and refurbish the house for themselves.” Well, once Lee passed away, and with Liza Minnelli no longer attached to the property, a remodel seemed imminent.
Only as photos taken in the house over the last decade will show, there has never been a remodel. In fact, the house hasn’t been formally lived in by anyone in a decade. Although, there is reason to believe that certain people have taken up residence in the abandoned house.
The initial tipster who first asked about the house at Curbed Los Angeles wrote that they had “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 taking a look inside the home, the evidence is overwhelming.
While some rooms still contain artifacts from the days when the house was the Minnelli mansion, any semblance of the glamorous home Liza grew up in, is long gone. Like an empty time capsule, any personal items were long ago removed. Today, the house tells a completely different story.
Back in Lee’s initial lawsuit, it was mentioned that the groundskeepers had been dismissed, and whether the overgrowth of the sprawling estate is the result of that is unclear. But what is certain, it that in the decade the grounds went untouched, the property itself is completely unkempt.
Various piles of debris, crumbling columns and more litter the yard. Looking at the grounds it’s still quite easy to imagine the parties that may have been thrown. Alas, the once luxe swimming pool is empty, and now covered almost completely in graffiti, much like the walls of many of the rooms inside the house.
In one of the house’s 19 rooms some vandal, apparently familiar with the house’s hallowed Hollywood history, wrote the words “Judy Garland” across a wall. While the home had once been described as having “python-skin-covered walls,” now many of those same walls are riddled with holes.
Although the abandoned house has largely been cleared out of any cherished possessions or personal mementos, some rooms however, still contain some furniture. Since the mansion was last remodeled in the late 1940s/early ’50s, and what little is left in the rooms is original to the previous owner, it’s almost possible to make out a vague image of life in the Minnelli mansion.
Although it is unclear whether the room was one of Lee’s or perhaps one of the many dressing rooms Vincente Minnelli had to house all his old film costumes, one room contains a mattress, mirrored walls, and a bathtub. While the location of the bathtub in the same room as a mattress seems confusing, it seems apparent that the interior has been tampered with.
Since the home is essentially abandoned, squatters and curious pedestrians alike have helped themselves to trips inside of the house. Take for example YouTuber adamthewoo, who found that there is no running water in the house. And that’s not all he found.
As adamthewoo made his way through the crumbling home, and filming everything he came across, he started to form a theory. Since the mysterious buyers had never actually lived in the Beverly Hills mansion, thus, any pieces of furniture, stacks of VHS tapes, or assorted dishware must have been left over from when it was Minnelli’s home.
As he explained to urban and industrial ruins website Abandoned Explorers, “Maybe Liza retrieved some things she wanted from the home, but she certainly wouldn’t be interested in old furniture…So those were probably left since the house needed a complete renovation…” Old televisions aside, one room revealed something even more interesting.
As was noted by the journalist who had arrived to the home back in 1999, Lee had left the house exactly as it had been when Vincente Minnelli was still alive. Tables were scattered with books, the closets were stocked with designer clothes, and of course, photographs were everywhere. Today none of those personal touches remain.
One room, covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors also features a fireplace. Centered in the wall, the fireplace contains evidence of recent use, further backing up the theory that the house has been used by squatters. As the tour through the home continues, so does the tale of the its descent into ruin.
The plaster ceilings are coming down in almost every room of the house, and from inside the property, very few traces of its former glory remain. The exterior of the house, while still worse for wear, doesn’t automatically betray the true state of the house. At least, not at a quick first glance.
But as the tipster noted, new trees were planted on the grounds at some point in 2013. Presumably paid for by the mysteriously absent owners, the trees seemed to indicate they had taken an interest in their property. Is it possible the owners are actually planning on renovating the crumbling Minnelli mansion at long last?
Despite the occasional cropping of new trees, or a utility truck captured by Google Earth as having been parked outside the home, the house itself shows no signs of renovation. Sitting there unoccupied, some people have begun to speculate that the current owners are waiting for vandals or squatters to accidentally burn down the house, or destroy it beyond repair.
Whatever the real reason may be that the house still sits untouched, the Minnelli mansion is still open for curious onlookers to creep around the next time they find themselves near Crescent Drive. Once the site of an iconic auteur’s life, now the house is just a shell of the Hollywood heyday during which it was inhabited.
The mansion has now lured thrill seekers and overall abandoned place enthusiasts (yes, that is a thing) to wander through the crumbling, abandoned Hollywood mansion. There are now YouTube videos all over the Internet of explorers wandering the hallways of the home.
While the family that bought the mansion for $2.75 million have still yet to ever move in, leaving it empty for curious thrill seekers. And while the walls are crumbling, explorers are still able to enter the home and feel if only for a few minutes like they have taken up residency in a multi million dollar Hollywood home, albeit a crumbling one.
The home itself is not the only thing that has been left behind over time. Throughout the expansive mansion, curious trespassers have found a few trinkets that date all the way back to when Vincente Minnelli was still taking up residence in the home.
In what used to be the master bedroom, there is still a record rack that was once located in the wall next to the bed. Today, those records are mostly strewn all over the floors, revealing a peek at the life that was once lived within the house. An empty, abandoned home was once filled with life, and music.
Beyond the master bedroom, it seems that remnants of a past life could be found all throughout the home. While there is definitely some debris that could have been taken from any home in any neighborhood, there are other artifacts that make it known that the Minnelli’s once lived in this now abandoned mansion.
For example, when YouTuber Adamthewoo searched through the old Minnelli mansion, he found a spice chart still attached to the back of a door. When he took a closer look, he realized that the top was labeled “Minelli.” A seemingly ordinary piece of paper left behind suddenly took on, quite literally, a whole new name, reminding anyone who enters of the home’s rich history.
To fully understand the decay of this famous mansion over time, it is important to realize what it once looked like in its glory days. On March 28, 2002, shortly after the death of Vincente Minnelli, Getty Images was allowed to take its cameras inside the home for an exclusive peek behind the curtains.
At the time, as the home was nowhere near the state it finds itself in now, the master bedroom seemed like an old Hollywood dream. The master bedroom featured a modern en suite bathroom, an expansive bed, golden curtains and some blast-from-the-past decorative chairs. Next up, a reveal of what that room looks like in its current state.
Upon entering the master bedroom today, many would not even recognize that it was once the bedroom of Vincente and Lee Minnelli. Paint is chipping away from the ceilings, and the once golden curtains have now turned a dingy orange, ripping away from the windows.
But, eerily enough, one of the signature pieces of Vincente Minnelli’s home has remained. The floral decorative lounge chairs that were situated in his master bedroom still remain, although tattered. Film buffs wandering through the abandoned home could almost imagine Vincente Minnelli sitting in those chairs working on some of the most classic movie musicals of all time.
In 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that Liza Minnelli’s Beverly Hills home, which she was leasing from Italian actress Veronica De Laurentiss, was back on the market. The 3,271 square foot home featured a gigantic swimming pool, along with a koi pond, and was renting for $10,900 a month.
But it seems that this home was definitely not the first time that Liza Minnelli had access to a pool right outside her door. A large pool with a hot tub still sits in the backyard of the abandoned former Minnelli home. The water has been dried out of the pool and now it sits as an inground rectangular frame of what it once was.
Anyone could easily spend an entire day sifting through what was left behind in the former Minnelli home. Entire rooms are filled with old artifacts from a life once lived inside the walls of this Hollywood mansion. And when considering that Vincente, Lee, and Liza Minnelli along with Judy Garland all took up residence in the home, that means there must have been a lot of life lived within its walls.
But one artifact that was sitting in the mansion showed just how much of a time capsule this home has become. YouTuber AdamTheWoo found this old magazine dated June 27, 1983, featuring a baby Prince William at 1 year old.
Even as Liza had hoped that the new homeowners of her family’s former mansion would renovate the home, that dream was never realized. Nothing in the home has been updated, leaving to be a likely disappointment for Liza, but a thrill for anyone wanting a look inside the crumbling mansion.
But when looking through the home, explorers have found some evidence of maybe the start of renovations. In one room, a square has been cut out of the old, beige carpeting to reveal the floor boards, along with carpet padding that is so old it has disintegrated into a sand-like texture.
If the new owners of the Minnelli mansion ever actually do take up the task of renovating the house to its former glory, they will have a lot of work on their hands. Throughout the home, proof of the wear and tear over time can be seen in just about every single room.
The paint is chipping away from walls and ceilings, carpets have been torn up and glass has been broken. There are large holes in some of the walls, left there either because of neglect or because of squatters that have been rumored to have taken up residence in the mansion.
What was once where some of Hollywood’s most famous residents resided is now just a shell of what it used to be. Now the mansion has become something else entirely. While tourists are often interested in taking Hollywood home tours by bus, today the Minnelli home is just an attraction for those who love to search through abandoned places.
A Google search of the Minnelli Mansion comes up with videos and testimonials from people who have entered the home to get a look inside. Some call it “The Hilton for Squatters,” while others share their stories of getting onto the property.
Sources: Curbed Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times