Falcon Lair Tour

In 1925 Rudolph Valentino purchased an estate above Beverly Hills, a home that he christened Falcon Lair. This was to be his retreat from public life, his castle and the palace to share with his lady love, Natacha Rambova. 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.

Falcon Lair did become Rudy's retreat and castle. Decorated with his own inimitable sense of style and good taste, Falcon Lair was filled with antiques and furnishings he bought on his travels through France, Spain and Italy. Interestingly, the only room in the house that bore the stamp of Natacha was Rudy's bedroom. It was furnished with the lacquered bedroom furniture Natacha designed for their home in the Whitley Heights section of Hollywood (Their home 6776 Wedgwood Place in Whitley Heights was razed to make room for the Hollywood Freeway).

With his separation from Natacha, Rudy became his own man, hosting intimate dinner parties high above Hollywood for a select few friends. With the stables on the property to house his four Arabian strain horses and a three-car garage to house his beautiful automobiles, Valentino the avid horsemen and inveterate tinkerer, was content to spend time doing what he loved best when not working at the studio; riding through the hills or working on his cars.

After Rudy's passing in 1926, the house, grounds and all contents were auctioned to pay the debts of Valentino's estate. The house passed through several hands over the years and as real estate became scarce, the surrounding acreage gradually was parceled out in little bits.

Falcon Lair was owned for nearly 50 years by the late Doris Duke.  The property was purchased in late 1998 from the Duke Estate.  In 2003 a renovation project was begun and Falcon Lair was dismantled down to the framing and flooring.  After several years of red-tape (and likely a great deal of frustration) in 2005 the owner placed Falcon Lair, as it stood (merely a shell) and the surrounding property on the market.  The optimist in me would have liked to think that the next owner of Falcon Lair would see the value in owning a historical home with such a pedigree and restore it to 1926 glory.  The realist in me proved correct my fear that what little was left of Falcon Lair would be bulldozed.  It was.

A visit to the site of Falcon Lair now reveals the sad fate that the main structure of the house was razed and only the outer gates/fence structure and garage area remain extant and recognizable from Valentino's time.  Only time will tell what the fate will befall the remains of Falcon Lair.

Let this virtual tour remain as a tribute to Valentino and a memory of his treasured home, Falcon Lair.

 

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Falcon Lair

“What I am dreaming of is to have a home where I could live in peace, with a loving wife who would not be wanting to play in film, and who would greet me, each evening, after work, with my children.”

- Rudolph Valentino 1926

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