MCM Desert Icon Hits Market - Page 2

$25M sought for Neutra's Kaufmann House—restored, immortalized by historic photos
Fridays on the Homefront
In recent years the Kaufmann House was restored by its current owners, investment manager Brent Harris and his wife, architectural historian Beth Harris. For the massive undertaking, they enlisted the architectural firm Marmol Radziner.

"My clients picked it up in 1993," said Bisignano, referring to its purchase for $1.5 million after three years on the market by investment manager Brent Harris and his wife, architectural historian Beth Harris. They enlisted the award-winning architectural firm of Marmol Radziner and undertook a massive restoration that included research at Columbia University and the Neutra archives at UCLA.

"The house had been bastardized, so my clients went in and brought it back," boasted the realtor.

Eventually, the owners even consulted Shulman about his shoot of the house in 1947. The famous photographer was so intrigued that he returned to shoot the completed project in 2009, the same year he passed away.

Fridays on the Homefront

"He said the house looked exactly like it had 50 years earlier," Bisignano said proudly, adding, "The renovation, it was so amazingly extensive."

One of the most challenging aspects of the restoration project involved a unique masonry feature using a shade of stone known as Sunset pinkish buff.

"There was some stone missing from over the years," explained the realtor. Bisignano said the quarry in Utah where the stone is found had closed, but the Harrises and their team convinced the business to reopen temporarily to supply the restoration, adding, "That's the lengths [to which] they went."

It's an effort truly appreciated by lovers of mid-century modern design, and for Neutra fans, it couldn't happen in a more appropriate place. The destruction in 2002 of the spectacular Maslon House in nearby Rancho Mirage was one of the most egregious demolitions in the genre's history, and it wasn't the last Neutra to fall regrettably.

Fridays on the Homefront

The Largent House in San Francisco was illegally destroyed in 2017, several of his buildings at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa have been demolished since then, and architecture fans fear Neutra's Connell House in Pebble Beach is falling down due to neglect. The list goes on—but won't include the Kaufmann House.

"I am thrilled to have this house," admits Bisignano, who previously sold a Neutra in Rancho Palos Verdes. Its entry onto the market has prompted coverage by Forbes magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other media, he said, adding, "My head is spinning."

Fridays on the Homefront

"We just put the house on the market Friday and we've had three showings," the realtor said October 20. Bisignano called the home a "trailblazing example" of International-style architecture in the desert, and suggested that Kaufmann himself commissioned the two most iconic houses in MCM design: "This and Fallingwater, I just don't know what would knock them off one and two."

For more information on this historic listing, click here.