An Italian palace in Castellammare

Times Staff Writer

J. Paul Getty never owned this palatial home on the bluffs of Castellammare in Pacific Palisades. That’s just an urban legend fueled by the house’s proximity to the antiquities museum known as the Getty Villa, which will reopen after renovations in 2006.

Gazing toward the mountains, the museum, less than half a mile away, is one of the few visible neighbors of the home, which is named Villa de Leon for Leon Kauffman, the entrepreneur and wool magnate who commissioned it in 1926. That was before the Pacific Coast Highway or its predecessor, the Roosevelt Highway, were built below the bluffs.

Kauffman had Kenneth MacDonald design the home to resemble a palace in Italy, and it included topiary gardens, a pipe organ and a funicular descending to the beach. Those features are gone now, along with most of the original furnishings, but the craftsmanship -- marked by the $1-million cost and a five-year execution -- remains.

About this house: Kauffman’s estate sold the property in 1952. A group of investors has owned it since the early ‘70s.


Asking price: $14,995,000

Size: The home, on slightly more than an acre, has nine bedrooms and 10 bathrooms in 12,000 square feet.

Features: Next to the marble entrance hall with its sculpted circular staircase is the 64-by-32-foot grand salon with three handmade crystal chandeliers and a hand-painted, hand-carved ceiling. The floor and walls are covered with mahogany paneling from Thailand.

An ocean-view terrace sits outside the grand salon, which is adjacent to a circular dining room with a Venetian domed ceiling and wood-paneled walls. Nearby is a library with a coffered ceiling and a courtyard with a view of the mountains and the Getty Villa. The butler’s pantry leads to the kitchen, which has its original refrigerator and cabinets. The home also has an original, working elevator.


Upstairs, Italian tiles cover the bathroom walls and floors. In the basement are some historical curiosities -- the original laundry room and one of the first-ever central vacuums. Nearby are two vaults; one holds the home’s blueprints.

A private driveway leads to a seven-car garage. The entrance is behind gates.

Where: Pacific Palisades

Listing agent: Randy Freeman, Prudential California, John Aaroe division, (310) 420-9242 or (310) 230-3719.


To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send color interior and exterior photos (copies only; we cannot return the pictures) and a description of the house, including what makes it unique, to Ruth Ryon, Real Estate Section, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012;