Is Elrod House Sale for Real?

One of several multi-million-dollar Lautners on the market actually has a buyer in hand
Is Elrod House Sale for Real
Several of architect John Lautner’s spectacular California modern homes have been hanging on the market in recent years, awaiting buyers. Is the famous Elrod House (pictured here) of Palm Springs, which recently went into escrow, about to buck that trend? Photos: Lance Gerber
Is Elrod House Sale for Real
Is Elrod House Sale for Real

WANTED: Buyer for iconic home in architectural dreamland neighborhood. A bargain at $8 million when architect's other works are asking eight figures. Good place to show a nosy superspy what's what.

So striking and so original are the best of architect John Lautner's houses that they become known, like many Southern California notables, for their most memorable movie role.

It could be surmised that only modernism aficionados might get excited at the prospect of seeing or buying the Elrod House, but many a James Bond fan has salivated over the place where two bikini-clad henchwomen kicked James Bond's butt in 1971's 'Diamonds are Forever.'

Listing agent John Nelson of Nelson-Moe Properties said an offer was accepted for the Elrod House June 10, but members of the homeowners association in the exclusive Southridge neighborhood of Palm Springs have right of first refusal during the 45-day escrow period. He declined to identify the buyer or dollar amount.

If the home does not sell, the Elrod House could join other spectacular Lautner creations that have languished on the market in recent months, albeit some for much higher prices. All still available from listings last year are the Stevens House in Malibu (recently reduced by $1 million to $16,995,000), a unique wooden home in Plumas County ($1.1 million), and of course the Elrod's Southridge neighbor, formerly owned by Bob and Dolores Hope ($24,999,000).

Renowned interior decorator Arthur Elrod famously gave Lautner free reign over two lots he purchased in Southridge in the late '60s, asking only that he should "give me what you think I should have on this lot." They excavated eight feet into the ridge to expose the bedrock and built what was expanded within a couple years of its 1969 construction into a 5-bed, 5.5-bath, 8,901-square-foot masterpiece.

"It had been listed [before] for a brief time," Nelson said of a prior offering of the house last winter for $10,495,000. "Their listing was canceled when the house changed ownership."

The property traveled a rocky road to market after being purchased along with several other Southridge properties for a reported $11 million-plus by investor Michael Kilroy in 2003. After the brief, unsuccessful formation of the Southridge Club of upscale rental properties, Kilroy lost not only the Elrod House but a Hugh Kaptur-designed house once owned by actor Steve McQueen, a 1992 construction known as the Boat House, and two vacant lots in the desert neighborhood.