Villa Del Leon in Malibu
Villa Del Leon is a one-of-a-kind private estate and wedding venue in Malibu visible from the Getty Villa and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In fact, it's such an impressive landmark that it's often confused as being part of the Getty Villa Museum by people driving by on the Pacific Coast Highway. This unique private estate is not a typical wedding venue and as of this writing, I am the only wedding photographer who has ever photographed a wedding ceremony at this amazing venue.
Villa Del Leon construction began in 1926 with a construction budget of nearly $1,000,000. That was quite a hefty sum equaling just over $13,000,000 in today's adjusted dollars. Los Angeles architect Kenneth A. MacDonald, Jr. designed the thirty-five room mansion and almost every room has a view of the Pacific Ocean or the Santa Monica mountains. It also boasts 10,277 square feet of living space.
The mansion was named after its original owner, Austrian-born business mogul Leon Kauffman who made his fortune in wool processing. He built this impressive mansion to fulfill a promise that he made to his wife Clemence. Kauffman promised Clemence a castle by the sea and even by today's standards, he certainly kept his word.
This home is a classic Beaux Arts structure with Mediterranean accents that harkens back to ancient Italian coastline villas. Upon entering the home, you'll see a huge marble staircase in the entry hall featuring an elaborate wrought-iron stair rail created by craftsman James C. Kubic. If you look closely at the details, you'll see that Kubic incorporated ram heads into the wrought-iron design as a reference to Kauffman's wool business. The estate also contains a library with coffered ceilings, mahogany-paneled walls in the master suite, and a 35-foot tall living room ceiling with hand-stenciling.
The Kauffmans lived in this home for just a few short years as Clemence died in 1933 and Leon died in 1935. Then, for almost 20 years, the Villa was unoccupied except for a single caretaker and his pet dog. Although several attempts were made to sell the house, it was eventually sold at auction in 1952 for only $71,000. However, things have since been better for this property. When it was last listed, the restored Villa Leon was presented for $14,500,000.
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