CLOSER TO HOME

The man known as Mr. Show­man­ship pulled out all the stops in his stun­ning abodes

Closer Weekly - - News - By GREGG GOLD­STEIN

Take a peek in­side Liberace’s lux­u­ri­ous vin­tage homes in Las Ve­gas, Mal­ibu and more.

Most peo­ple leave home to go on va­ca­tion. I do just the op­po­site,” Liberace once said. “For a hol­i­day, there’s no place like home, es­pe­cially since I have homes in some very in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing places!”

In­deed, many of the flam­boy­ant res­i­dences that mas­ter pi­anist

Wladziu Valentino “Lee” Liberace owned would be con­sid­ered re­sorts or fives­tar ho­tel suites by most peo­ple — he had 11 over the years, and owned six when he passed away in 1987 at age 67. “Depend­ing on the sea­son, the weather, or even my mood,” he boasted, “I can have va­ca­tions at home that are com­pa­ra­ble to a sea­son in Monte Carlo (my Las Ve­gas place), a Caribbean cruise (in Mal­ibu), a Hawai­ian hol­i­day (Palm Springs), [and] Saint Moritz in Switzer­land (Lake Ta­hoe),” plus lav­ish pent­house apart­ments in LA and NYC.

What in­spired Lee’s lust for land? None other than sex god­dess Mae West, who, dur­ing a lunch in the ’50s, told him about a prop­erty she’d sold for mil­lions. “That’s when he saw gold in real es­tate,” his long­time pub­li­cist Jamie James re­vealed.

And he added gold, sil­ver and other fine decor and an­tiques to all of his homes, in a style that could be fairly de­scribed as over-the-top. He bathed in a $55,000 mar­ble bath­tub with a chan­de­lier, gold-plated faucets and a por­trait of him­self on the ceil­ing in his Las Ve­gas home (recre­ated in the 2013 HBO biopic Be­hind the Can­de­labra, the ti­tle

for which ref­er­ences the piano-top fix­ture that was his trade­mark).

Be­fit­ting a man who made mil­lions tick­ling the ivories, his homes were filled with all man­ner of pi­anos. The Sher­man Oaks, Calif., house he shared with his beloved mother in the mid’-50s had a piano-shaped pool and bed, plus a col­lec­tion of minia­ture pi­anos (in­clud­ing one from his ini­tially skep­ti­cal father that he prized above all oth­ers). His Mal­ibu condo, where he hosted pals like Shirley MacLaine, fea­tured a piano-shaped bar, piano-shaped couch and a baby grand in black.

Sev­eral of Liberace’s homes had nick­names, in­clud­ing his three-story, 28-room Hol­ly­wood Hills mansion. “My fam­ily calls it ‘the palace,’ ” he said, and they weren’t kid­ding. “The chan­de­lier is

“It may seem like wild ex­trav­a­gance, but when I fall in love with a lo­cale, I want to put down roots and live

there.”

— Liberace

18-karat gold and Bac­carat crys­tal,” he said. “The piano [here] was once owned by Chopin.” But his slightly more lowkey Palm Springs house — a Span­ish Colo­nial he called “The Clois­ters” and “Casa de Liberace” — was his fa­vorite.

Where did Liberace (who ad­mit­ted to be­ing a “com­pul­sive shop­per”) find his op­u­lent decor? A good deal of it came from garage sales and flea mar­kets. “I love to go to them,” he con­fessed. “No mat­ter how much money they have, ev­ery­body loves a bar­gain. That in­cludes Jackie Onas­sis and Liberace.”

He may have paid big bucks for his homes, but he strove to spend smartly. “I’ve never lost money in real es­tate,” Lee in­sisted just a year be­fore he died. “Even if I had, when I think of the spe­cial hol­i­days each of these homes has af­forded me, it would be worth it.”

Liberace’s love of mir­rors and or­nate pi­anos

was on full dis­play at his Hol­ly­wood Hills

home in 1961.

In his Mal­ibu pad, Lee’s fine an­tiques and fancy knick­knacks re­flected his rosy out­look.

Can you spot the top­i­ary can­de­labra out­side Lee’s Palm Springs, Calif., mansion?

▶Liberace in 1961, pho­tographed un­der one of his beloved chan­de­liers in the liv­ing room of his Hol­ly­wood Hills home, which he dec­o­rated him­self in white and gold. At far right is his pipe or­gan.

Lee in 1973, seated at his LA home’s cus­tom­made bar

The piano pool at the Sher­man Oaks home he had in the mid-’50s is sur­rounded by a “mu­si­cal fence” dis­play­ing 16 bars of his orig­i­nal song “Rhap­sody by Can­dle­light.”

Liberace, walk­ing down from the stone bal­cony out­side his Hol­ly­wood Hills home in 1961, al­ways knew how to make a grand en­trance.

◀“Be­lieve it or not, this is where I dream up most of my piano ar­range­ments,” he joked of the key­board bed in his Sher­man Oaks home in 1956.

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