Kaufmann Desert House
|Kaufmann Desert House|
|Architectural style||International Style|
|Location||470 West Vista Chino|
Palm Springs, California
|Design and construction|
|Architect(s)||Richard J. Neutra|
The Kaufmann Desert House, or simply the Kaufmann House, is a house in Palm Springs, California, that was designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946. It was commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., a businessman who also commissioned Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright.
It is designated a Class 1 Historic Site by Palm Springs City Council.
The house was commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., the owner of Kaufmann's Department Store in Pittsburgh, as a desert retreat from harsh winters. It was made famous by photographs taken by Julius Shulman in 1947 and the 1970 photograph "Poolside Gossip" by Slim Aarons. In 1935, Kaufmann had commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.
After Kaufmann died in 1955, the house stood vacant for several years. It then had a series of owners, including singer Barry Manilow and San Diego Chargers owner Eugene V. Klein, and had several renovations. These renovations enclosed a patio, added floral wallpaper to the bedrooms and removed a wall for the addition of a media room. The roof lines were also altered with the addition of air-conditioning units. After being listed for sale for 3½ years, the home was purchased in 1992 by Brent Harris, an investment manager, and his wife Beth Edwards Harris, an architectural historian, for $1.5 million.
Seeking to restore the home to its original design, the Harris contacted Marmol Radziner + Associates to undertake the five-year project, which began in 1993. For references, the Harrises looked through the extensive Neutra archives at UCLA, found additional documents through Columbia University, and were able to work with Shulman to access some of his unpublished photos of the home's interior. They were able to obtain pieces from the original suppliers of paint and fixtures, and purchased a metal-crimping machine to reproduce the sheet-metal fascia that originally lined the roof.
The Harrises were also able to have a long-closed section of a Utah quarry reopened to mine matching stone to replace what had been removed or damaged. To help restore the desert buffer Neutra had envisioned for the house, the Harrises also bought several adjoining plots to more than double the land around the 3,200-square-foot (300 m2) house. They rebuilt a pool house that served as a viewing pavilion for the main house, and kept a tennis court that was built on a parcel added to the original Kaufmann property.
After the Harrises divorced, the home was sold on May 13, 2008, for US$15 million at auction by Christie's as a part of a high-profile sale of contemporary art. It had a presale estimate of US$15 million to US$25 million. The sale later fell through, as the bidder breached terms of the purchase agreement.
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- Clarke, Katherine (October 15, 2020). "Slim Aarons Immortalized This Richard Neutra Home in 'Poolside Gossip.' Now It's Selling for $25 Million". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- Mitchell, Sean (December 27, 2008). "The best houses of all time in L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- Friedman, Alice T. (c. 2010). "2. Palm Springs Eternal: Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Desert House". American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press. pp. 262. ISBN 978-0-300-11654-0. LCCN 2009032574.