frank-sinatra

He Did It His Way

Villa Maggio, named after the film character that garnered him an Oscar, was Frank Sinatra's getaway from all his other getaways.

Lawrence Karol Real Estate

frank-sinatra
The estate has nine fireplaces. The antique desk to the left of the fireplace belonged to Al Capone. The room also features two original Frank Lloyd Wright Chinese modern chairs.

In 1967, Frank Sinatra commissioned a midcentury-style mountaintop home that he had built on a plateau in Pinyon Crest with sweeping views of the Coachella Valley. He designed the house with Ross Patton, a well-known Palm Desert architect from the 1950s-70s.

Sinatra dubbed the house Villa Maggio as a tribute to Private Angelo Maggio, the character he portrayed in the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity — a role that earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The home recently came up for sale again after being listed in 2015 and then taken off the market. The new listing includes an additional 2.5 acres of land to create more privacy for potential buyers — and the land is also buildable.

The house cost Sinatra $1.9 million to build, plus the land, and took three years to complete, says Markus Canter of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, one of the realtors representing the sellers. The price tag is now $3.9 million.

“The general contractor was a Greek man, known as El Greco,” says Canter. “The chimneys are actually signed by him as ‘El Greco,’ [although] his actual name is Albinas Zenaittis.”

Sinatra bought the land surrounding Villa Maggio so he wouldn’t have to contend with neighbors or paparazzi spying on him and his guests. “There were some epic parties there with a ‘who’s who’ list of celebrities, sports figures, high society, and dignitaries,” says Canter.

PHOTOS BY SEAN GARRISON
An overview of the property shows the main house, left, and the detached guest house, top right.

Left: The audiovisual equipment from 1971 is original to the property. Above: Sinatra’s master bathroom features some of the numerous photographs of him and his celebrity friends that are scattered throughout the house.

The estate is set at an elevation of 4,300 feet. It provided Sinatra with a respite from the desert heat, while still affording him quick access to his Palm Springs home and a short helicopter ride to Palm Springs International Airport.

Covering 7.5 acres, the property boasts a main house with five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, a two-bedroom attached guesthouse with its own private entrance, a detached guest house with three separate suites that each have kitchenettes, and a pool house with a great room, small kitchen, two full baths, and two saunas. Overall, there’s more than 6,400 square feet of interior space.

Also noteworthy, is the history of Villa Maggio which has played out a bit like a movie plot with surprise twists and turns. The intrigue began when, after owning the home for 12 years, Sinatra donated it to Loyola Marymount University.

“No one seems to know why Frank gave Villa Maggio to Loyola Marymount University but, as a result, the University gave Sinatra a doctorate degree,” says Canter. “The school used it as a retreat for its faculty and members [and] I’ve been told that they did not maintain it well. They sold it to a woman who then flipped it in 10 days to a man who bought it sight unseen.”

Among the property’s many amenities are a large pool, a spa, tennis courts, and a helipad.

“Very shortly thereafter, this new owner went to prison for money laundering [and] died inside prison. A dentist sold it to our clients. They only planned on living there for two years but they fell in love with the property. They have been there 20 years. The current owners did not re-decorate — they have restored, renovated, and maintained the property just as Frank had built it.”

The property is co-listed with local realtors Scott R.S. Palermo and James Sanak of Harcourts Desert Homes.

Villa Maggio, 70300 San Lorenzo Road, Pinyon Crest. For more information, contact Scott R.S. Palermo or James Sanak at Harcourts Desert Homes, Palm Springs, 760-808-6415, harcourtdeserthomes.com; or Cristie St. James or Markus Canter at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Beverly Hills, 310-704-4248, bhhscalifornia.com.

 
Follow Lawrence Karol on Twitter: @WriteEditDream
 

PHOTO GALLERY:
View more images of the home.