Aug 132020

An unidentified buyer has snapped up the near-century-old Vanderlip family estate atop Rancho Palos Verdes’ Portuguese Bend for $10.5 million.

Known as Villa Narcissa, this 11.5-acre property with unobstructed Catalina Island views has a 7,700-square-foot Tuscan-style villa complete with 10 guesthouses, a swimming pool and a tennis court.

Classical Mediterranean-style gardens, an amphitheater, and a 246-step brick walkway lined with cypress trees that ascends to a Doric colonnade surround the residence.

The buyer’s agent Stephen Lampe of Re/Max Commercial and Investment Realty said by phone that his client plans on “maintaining” the property as an estate, “restoring and keeping it longterm.”

Villa Narcissa was built in 1926 for Frank A. Vanderlip Sr., a New York financier who helped found the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The house, named for his wife, Narcissa Cox Vanderlip, used to sit on 16,000 acres of land.

In the 1940s, the couple’s son Kelvin Vanderlip, Sr. inherited the property where he hosted many parties.

“The list of guests and events throughout the past century is just legendary,” said Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker Realty, who shared the listing with Tiffany Mills of Coldwell Banker Realty and Lauren Forbes and John Corrales of Compass.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the parties were attended by the likes of Jimmy Stewart and Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Lee Katz, assistant director of the film “Casablanca,” later lived at the house with Elin Vanderlip, the widow of Kelvin Vanderlip.

But the last heirs to the estate, Kelvin Vanderlip Jr. and Narcissa Vanderlip, decided to sell the property because, as they told the Daily Breeze, the work to maintain the home was too great.

“You’re always in production,” Vanderlip Jr. said of its upkeep. “It’s like a huge theater. People want to see the grounds and the views. They want to sit at a formal table and eat a great meal. They just expect a lot and so you rise to the occasion.”

The sale closed July 29 at a 19% decrease from the initial $12.995 million asking price five months earlier, in February.


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