One of the nation’s most recognizable mid-century modern style homes will hit the market Friday in Palm Springs, and the buyer is asking for $25 million.
Designed by renowned modernist architect Richard Neutra in the mid-1940s, the Kaufmann Desert House stands as a unique architectural marvel in the city’s Little Tuscany neighborhood.
“Anybody coming to see this house, knows the house,” said listing agent Gerard Bisignano, a partner at Vista Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s a piece of art.”
The five-bedroom, 3,200-square-foot residence is a modernist dream built with a lot of glass and steal and situated within eyeshot of the towering San Jacinto Mountains. It was constructed between 1946 and 1947 for American businessman Edgar J. Kaufmann of Pennsylvania, of Kaufmann’s Department Store fame. He wanted a West Coast vacation home, and tapped Neutra to design it.
Born in 1892 in Austria, Neutra spent much of his career in Southern California, employing steel-frame and glass-infused designs into his architectural arrangements. The Kaufmann house was among his last domestic projects.
The house has been described as having a “cruciform” shape, anchored by a common family room-kitchen hub with wings extending outward, Bisignano says. One wing hosts two guest bedrooms, another houses the main bedroom, while another contains a bar, living room and dining room. There’s also a pool, pool house and tennis court outside the main structure.
Bisignano said much of the home’s offerings are situated on a single story, although an upstairs covered patio can be accessed via an outside staircase. Neutra named it the “the Gloriette,” which offers sweeping views.
The initial property sat on a 1.1-acre parcel, although the current owner purchased the adjacent lot, bringing the property size to about 2.2 acres, Bisignano said.
The property has seen multiple owners, including singer-songwriter Barry Manilow, who sold it to current owner Brent R. Harris in 1993, reportedly for $1.5 million. After nearly three decades of ownership, Bisignano says Harris, a financial executive, feels its time to “pass it on to a new guardian.”
Over four to five years, Harris and his former wife Beth, an architectural historian and preservationist, undertook a colossal overall of the property, the agent said.
“They did a bunch of research to be sure they had the right plan to bring the house to its original state,” Bisignano said.
The extent of their desire for originality took them to Utah, where Bisignano says they had a shuttered mine reopened just to acquire the original stone used during the initial construction period.
“That’s a lot of passion,” the agent said.