Falcon Lair is an estate above Benedict Canyon in Bel Air, Los Angeles. The estate was built in 1925 by Rudolph Valentino, who named it Falcon Lair after his unproduced film, The Hooded Falcon. It is better known as a residence of heiress Doris Duke from 1952 until 1998.
Valentino bought the four-acre estate in 1925 for US$175,000 (equivalent to $2,551,000 in 2019) and named it “Falcon Lair”. He filled the house with antiques and memorabilia from his travels. Shortly after the purchase, he and Natacha Rambova divorced. Valentino retained Falcon Lair, hosted parties, and kept horses in his stable. After his death in 1926, it was auctioned off to settle his debts.
After several owners, Doris Duke acquired the estate in the early 1950s to be with her companion, jazz musician Joe Castro, and to mingle with the Hollywood crowd. Falcon Lair became a venue for jazz concerts. Duke befriended Sharon Tate, her neighbor at Benedict Canyon. Eventually, she settled on a pattern where she would rotate her residence during the year, staying at Duke Farms and Rough Point during the summer, flying to Falcon Lair on her birthday, November 22 and spending the winter months at Shangri La in Hawaii. In 1993, after hip surgery, knee surgery, and a stroke, Doris Duke was kept in isolation—in a virtual “prison”—at Falcon Lair until her death. Thereafter, Bernard Lafferty, Duke’s butler and initial executor of her will, renovated the bedroom for his own use.
Falcon Lair was sold by the Duke estate in 1998. A renovation project started in 2003 but was not completed; the property was offered for sale in 2006. The historic main building of the estate was bulldozed in 2006. In April 2009, the property was on the market for $7.95 million. Remaining at the property are the former stable building and three-bay garage, converted by Duke into a three-bedroom guesthouse and pool pavilion. In 2019 this house on 1.3 acres was listed for sale at $4.95 million. The additional 4-acres of the original estate has been approved for a 30,000-square-foot-plus house and was listed for sale in 2018 at $29.5 million.
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