howard hughes

A Billionaire’s Paradise

Howard Hughes' estate in the Araby neighborhood of South Palm Springs is on the market for the first time in over 40 years.

Lawrence Karol Modernism, Real Estate

howard hughes

The billionaire business mogul and aviator Howard Hughes was a notorious recluse so he no doubt treasured the secluded location of his Palm Springs home on Rim Road near the Bob Hope and Elrod houses.

Hughes was the third resident of the property and owned it until his death in 1976 when it was purchased from his estate by one of his studio executives whose family still owns the house today. The home’s original owner was actress Eva Gabor, who sold the house to Paul Keyes, an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning comedy writer/producer of televisions programs such as The Dean Martin Show, The Jack Paar Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, and many of Frank Sinatra’s TV specials.

Howard Hughes home

With its large cabana and picturesque mountain views, the backyard is ideal for entertaining.

“The midcentury architecture of this house is very sexy, gorgeous, and very unique,” says Leonardo Montenegro of The Leonardo Group/HOM Sotheby’s International Realty. “Because the house sits up high at the base of the mountains it possesses incredible mountain and valley views from inside and outside due to its walls of glass. Also, the patios and lounging areas with their own unique design ensure access to the outdoors wherever you are in the house.”

Built in 1957, the home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms spread over 2,400 square feet and sits on just under a quarter acre. The layout encompasses three levels with a main floor that has a guest bedroom suite with a fireplace, as well as the living and dining rooms and access to a deck with separate lounging and dining areas.

Howard Hughes home

The property’s location high on Rim Road in Palm Springs affords it sweeping views of the Valley. The sightline from the living and dining rooms and the “view” bedroom are shown here.

Just three steps up from entry level is what’s known as the view bedroom suite —due to its dramatic sightline of the valley — along with the kitchen and a built-in bar. A short flight of floating stairs leads from the entry level down to a third bedroom suite that opens out to an outdoor spa, patio, and hammock area. A wide, brick staircase terraces down from there to the pool and a covered cabana.

The home has retained some its original features including a classic, period kitchen with a 1950s mint green wall oven and cooktop and green countertops, as well as whitewashed brick walls in the bedrooms. And Montenegro notes a quirky, yet forward-thinking innovation that Hughes added — a system of lighting throughout the home that is controlled by pushing buttons on the floor with your foot.

Howard Hughes home

Floating stairs lead to the lower level where there’s a bedroom suite that has access to an outdoor spa, patio, and hammock. The L-shaped bench along the back wall is an original feature of the home.

Howard Hughes home

The “view” bedroom is visible through a large glass wall off the entry.

Howard Hughes home

The kitchen retains its original 1950s mint green wall oven and cooktop.

“The buyer will be someone who loves Hollywood history, a collector of sorts, who loves the idea of walking in the footsteps of Howard Hughes and sleeping where he slept,” says Montenegro. “Someone who is looking for a piece of history that can’t be replicated — a one-of-a-kind home.”

The property is on the market for $1,200,000. (Furniture and accessories are available outside of escrow.)

Leonardo Montenegro of The Leonardo Group/HOM Sotheby’s International Realty, 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 101, Palm Springs, 760-464-5600.

Howard Hughes home

The deck off the living area has sections for both lounging and dining.

“Modern on the Market,” set for Feb. 18-19, puts the spotlight on the architecture that defines the Greater Palm Springs real estate market with an Open House weekend of midcentury homes. Open house hours are 10 a.m. to 4 pm. Feb. 18 in Palm Springs, and noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 19 in Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and La Quinta.

View the list of Open Houses starting Feb. 15 at

Palm Springs Real Estate