With the $6.1 million sale of this classic Spanish Revival villa, a chapter in the story of the infamous Hollywood Hills home is now complete. The party house where the late Andrew R. Getty, one of several heirs to the John Paul Getty oil fortune, lived, loved, and died sold on July 21. But the full story of his former estate is far from over -- a legal battle is underway over the proceeds of the multimillion-dollar sale.
Let's go back to the home's not-so-humble beginnings. It was designed in the 1920s by popular architect John L. DeLario, on a hilltop with impressive views of the San Fernando Valley, which was bucolic at the time. The home's second owner was composer and musician Miklos Rozsa, who won Oscars for his scores for "Spellbound," "A Double Life," and "Ben-Hur."
The prolific film composer owned the property for about 50 years before Getty purchased it from his estate for $990,000 in 1996, according to public records. The home has eight bedrooms and six bathrooms in 4,712 square feet of luxurious space.
Getty must have been attracted to the original leaded glass, tile work on the floors and in the bathrooms, wood-beamed ceilings, herringbone wood flooring, and arched doors and windows. Also attractive are the paneled library, a wine vault, a safe room, and a secret tunnel built with Prohibition in mind.
With a kidney-shaped pool with a view, two-story cabana, and bar area, the outside offers even more to love. The home's location -- on one of the biggest lots in the area, measuring 7 hilly acres -- made it irresistible to a wealthy heir.
Unfortunately, in the almost 18 years that Getty lived there, he didn't do much in terms of preservation or restoration. The place was in abject disrepair when Getty was found dead in the home. He died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage exacerbated by a meth overdose, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's report. Getty was 47.
Having lived beyond his means and his multimillion-dollar trust fund, he was deeply in debt -- mostly to his family. His body was discovered by an ex-girlfriend against whom he'd recently taken out a restraining order, People magazine reported.
Getty's estate spent more than a year preparing the property for sale, sorting through his belongings and cleaning, painting, and restoring (to an extent) the home. Some of the expensive furniture and artwork in the house might have been on loan from his family, and this is where things get tricky.
Getty had a will, lodged in Los Angeles County probate court, naming another ex-girlfriend as his sole heir. If he had died without a will, his estate would have automatically reverted back to his parents. As it is, the ex-girlfriend has a claim to the proceeds from the sale of the home and its contents.
But Getty's father, Gordon Getty, the son of John Paul Getty, claims his son owes the family millions. TMZ correctly reports that Gordon Getty has filed a $14.1 million lawsuit against the estate. The proceeds from this $6.1 million home sale hardly begin to cover that amount.
Time, and the legal system, will tell whether the Getty family or the ex-girlfriend will prevail. Meanwhile, the new owners who bought the home through a trust can enjoy a valuable, massive estate. While it needs some work and comes with a bit of baggage, it has quite a backstory.