It’s hard to earn the nickname “Mr. Showmanship” without a marble-coated Las Vegas mansion—let alone one without a Sistine Chapel-style mural spanning above your California King.Władziu Valentino Liberace (“Lee” to his friends, just “Liberace” to everyone else) spent his four decades-long career leaping across the rungs of show business with a trail of opulence like no other. For 20 of those years, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world—and it showed, seeping through every fiber of his sequin-soaked wardrobe and crack of his iconic mansion. Aside from being his part-time home from 1974 until his 1987 death, Liberace’s gilded Las Vegas home grew to become a nightlife hub, practice space, and symbol of the entertainer’s unparalleled life.
On what would have been the performer’s 101st birthday, CR unpacks the glitz and glam behind his legendary abode.
Liberace’s bedazzled rise to fame was a seemingly endless journey towards grander and gaudier things, as his beloved camp bled beyond a stage presence and into his permanent lifestyle. The move to Las Vegas stemmed from convenience, as it kept Liberace within an arm’s reach of his multiple residencies along the Strip. However, the 14,393-square-foot mansion was a significant step up from his previous Los Angeles home, which famously hid a piano swimming pool in the palm-lined backyard. To create the mansion—and ensure that he had the biggest house on the residential block—Liberace purchased two smaller homes and connected them to craft his white-stucco masterpiece.
Every room of the mansion was a material extension of the performer’s larger-than-life persona, and was decorated by Liberace himself. Everything that could be mirrored, was mirrored, from the walls to several of the grand pianos. A Greek statue-lined hallway led to a game room, stocked with fully functional slot machines. Many of Liberace’s most memorable stage costumes kept their pristine shine in glass display boxes, while the performer himself smiled from framed portraits peppered throughout the house. Every room was well-stocked with at least one of his trademark candelabras, likely perched on a piano ready to be played.
One of the most recognizable traits of the house is the gilded curved staircase, which Liberace purchased from a Paris can-can bar and had shipped from Europe to Las Vegas. Upstairs, in the Moroccan sun room, the pianist entertained a rotating slew of guests on a dark wood floor purchased from a Gold Rush bar in California. An avid antiquarian, Liberace happily mixed his onyx furniture and solid-gold candelabras with vintage knick knacks and painstakingly-sourced second hand materials.
Twenty-six years after Liberace’s death, a businessman and childhood Liberace fan named Martyn Ravenhill bought the property out of foreclosure for 0,000 cash. Although the infamous mansion required million in renovations before returning to its former glory, many of the original fixtures (read: chandeliers, copper tiles, and ceiling murals) remained remarkably intact. In 2016, the restored mansion was christened with a historical designation from Clark County, and now the home is open for private tours and events.
Throughout his life, even as his millions multiplied, Liberace faced endless criticism for his opulent lifestyle and unapologetic materialism. Yet, surrounded by oil-painted portraits and crystallized candelabras, he remained unfazed—even famously quipping that after reading his own criticism, he “laughed all the way to the bank.”
Today, with a shining historical plaque and completely restored palace of his own extravagance, Liberace is undoubtedly still laughing.
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