No, babies, Your Mama's gin soaked fingers did not make a mistake, that really is forty-five million clams.
The torus-shaped house (above), with its dramatically undulating copper sheathed roof, was custom designed in the mid-1970s for Mister and Missus Hope by maverick California architect John Lautner. Missus Hope herself described the unusual residence in a 1999 article about Palm Springs in Vanity Fair magazine as a "contemporary castle." Less flattering comparisons have been made—a doughnut on acid, a flying saucer, the TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport in New York—but, whatever. Let's the naysayers nay say all they like. As far as Your Mama is concerned it's a magnificent and idiosyncratic piece of architecture. We love it and we'd pee our pants over an opportunity to get inside for a look around.
But, children, is it worth $45,000,000? Hmm. Maybe. Maybe no. Ask Suzanne Somers, a long-time Palm Springs resident who, back in 2008 amid much brouhaha and ballyhoo, attempted to sell her very different but no less quirky 73-acre mountainside compound in Palm Springs for $35,000,000 before the asking price was slashed to just under thirteen million, a radical reduction that still didn't bring in a moneybags buyer.*
Various reports put the Hope house—near the tippy-top top Southridge, a swank, guard-gated enclave of mostly contemporary residences—at around 22 or 25 and even 29,000 square feet however the Riverside County Tax Man shows the avant garde residence sits high on 3.17 ridge top acres and measures in at 17,531 square feet with six bedrooms and four bathrooms.**
Glass walls ring a circular, multi-level central courtyard and more towering walls of glass spill out to landscaped grounds that feature a private motor court and two car car port, vast rolling lawns dotted with putting greens and sand traps, and a squiggly-shaped in-ground swimming pool. The property does not currently have a tennis court, which is a real shame in Your Mama's book because for forty-five million big one we do not want the extra added expense and hassle of installing a tennis court.
Due to its elevation 200 or more feet above the Coachella Valley desert floor, the Hope house has wrap around views of the rugged mountains and mid-century-modern lined streets of Palm Springs, one of the gayest little cities on the planet where the average age of residents, so novelist Sydney Sheldon once not exactly accurately quipped, is deceased.
Among the approximately 20 homes in the Southridge enclave there are a number of other notable houses including the Cody House—designed by modernist architect William Cody and built in 1964 for Chicago-based industrialist Stanley Goldberg.
Also up in Southridge is the wild, wacky, wonderful and world renown Elrod House, designed in 1968 by John Lautner for interior designer Arthur Elrod. The much photographed and written about Elrod House was briefly owned in the early Aughts by supermarket magnate Ron Burkle who sold it in 2003 to California-based businessman Michael Kilroy for $5,500,000. Mister Kilroy tried in vain to sell the Elrod House in late 2009 when it landed with a much discussed thud on the open market with a $13,890,000 price tag. As it turns out Mister Kilroy also owns the house across the street—and also listed in late 2009 for $2,890,000—as well as the one next door, an interconnected collection of steel-framed glass boxes designed by architect Hugh M. Kaptur for Steve McQueen back in the day when he was hitched to the impossibly chic actress Ali McGraw. Mister Kilroy also listed this house in late 2009, with an asking price of $3,470,000, but also failed to unload it.
*Miz Somer's 10 bedroom and 9 bathroom compound is currently listed for $17,500,000.
**At least one data base we consulted shows there are six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.
aerial photo, Palm Springs (top): Google
exterior photos, Palm Springs (bottom left and right): Mossler Properties
aerial photo, Los Angeles: Google