Liberace’s Penthouse from “Behind the Candelabra”Aug 14th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
Back on May 27th, the day after the HBO biopic Behind the Candelabra first aired, fellow stalker Mike, from MovieShotsLA, emailed me to let me know that he had tracked down the penthouse belonging to Liberace (Michael Douglas) in the flick. He also informed me that, in a very cool twist, the penthouse used in the movie was actually owned by the legendary pianist for almost a decade in real life. Love it! And while I immediately added the site to my To-Stalk list, for whatever reason, I did not make it out there until this past Saturday morning, when the Grim Cheaper and I were in L.A. for a weekend visit.
Liberace did not just own the penthouse suite, but the entire 24,586-square-foot building which houses it. The five-story structure was designed in 1958 by renowned Netherlands-born theatre muralist Anthony Heinsbergen and cost $650,000 to complete. “Lee”, as he was called, purchased the property for just under $1 million in 1978 and continued to own it until his death in February 1987. It was then sold by the pianist’s estate in December of that same year for $2.55 million (in an all-cash deal!) to developer Larry Taylor.
The building, which sits on a 0.37-acre plot of land, consists of three floors of office space (there are 18 separate offices in total), a bottom-level retail site, and a 5,000-square-foot penthouse that boasts a 14-foot by 28-foot rooftop swimming pool, a gourmet kitchen, several fireplaces (which were not original to the unit, but were added by Liberace during his tenure), and, of course, mirrors galore.
I am going to go out on a limb and guess that the Grecian statue that flanks the building’s entrance was also Liberace’s doing.
The penthouse showed up numerous times in Behind the Candelabra, most notably as the place where Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) moved to after being dumped by Liberace. The interior of the pad hosted most of the filming, with scenes shot in the living room, master bedroom, hallway, and by the rooftop pool. For the shoot, the property, which currently serves as an event space, was painstakingly restored to look as it did in Liberace’s day – right down to the furniture. A July 2013 The Hollywood Reporter article says, “The current owner had photographed the entire apartment before Liberace’s furnishings were removed, allowing the production to re-create the black lacquer, animal print and chrome decor to the last detail.” So incredibly cool!
The same article goes on to state that the mirrored piano on display in the living room in the flick had to actually be hoisted up to the penthouse via the exterior of the building for the shoot due to the fact that the elevator on the premises was too small to transport it! Man, I would have loved to have been there to watch that! And while the Behind the Candelabra production slideshow claims that said piano belongs to Deborah Gibson in real life, the instrument that appeared in the movie does not match the one pictured in these photographs of Deborah’s house, so I am fairly certain that information is incorrect.
You can catch a great aerial glimpse of Liberace’s former pool area via Google Maps. According to the production slideshow, the fiber optic tree wall sculpture with “hand painted clay birds that spouted water” that appeared in the movie is original to the unit.
The exterior of the building showed up only once in Behind the Candelabra, in the scene in which Scott returned to the property after being kicked out to pick up his belongings – which Liberace’s manager, Seymour Heller (Dan Aykroyd), had gathered together in large plastic garbage bags. LOL That scene took place in the rear parking lot.
The building’s back entrance . . .
. . . and lobby area were also shown once in Behind the Candelabra, in the scene in which Seymour arrived at the penthouse to inform Scott that he had to vacate the premises.
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Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for finding this location.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Liberace’s former penthouse, which was used in Behind the Candelabra, is located at 7461 Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. The parking lot where Scott picked up his belongings in the film is located in the back of the building and can be reached via North Vista Street.