By MICHELLE RINDELS, Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 15,000-square-foot Las Vegas mansion once owned by Liberace was sold for $500,000 in cash to a British businessman who said he learned to play the piano after being inspired by the flamboyant performer.
The buyer — Martyn Ravenhill — closed the deal on Aug. 23 for $29,000 below its list price and about $3 million less than it was sold for seven years ago.
"I grew up thinking Liberace was wonderful," Ravenhill told the British publication Get Surrey. "I thought he was much more than just a camp figure. He set trends that continue today."
The two-bedroom, 10-bathroom home was built in 1962 and sits on a half-acre lot in an aging neighborhood near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Surrounding homes are small and sell for $80,000 to $150,000, which dragged down the value of the home, said real estate agent Brad Wolfe, who represented Ravenhill in the deal.
It features touches reminiscent of Liberace, including chandeliers, a mirror bar etched with his signature, and a room with tile piano keys in the floor.
"Opening the door felt like home," Ravenhill told Get Surrey. "There was a strange feeling of nostalgia to me. You could feel the history in the place as well."
Ravenhill didn't immediately respond to a request for comment sent by The Associated Press through his Panama-based business, Lloydshare Ltd.
Liberace, whose extravagances were legendary, became the best-paid entertainer on the planet during his heyday from the 1950s to the 1970s. His career was revisited in the recent HBO film "Behind the Candelabra," which details his secretive romance with the much-younger Scott Thorson.
Liberace's former home does need a little TLC. It doesn't have a working kitchen and is in a state of "functional obsolescence," said Wolfe, adding that a previous owner converted the space into a commercial kitchen but later left it without appliances.
Liberace bought the home in 1974, according to property records. His foundation later sold it to a married couple — Vance and Jan Turner — in 1989, two years after the performer died of an AIDS-related illness.
In 2006, during the heady days of southern Nevada real estate, the couple sold the home to Terrance Lee "Dez" Dzvonick for $3.7 million.
JPMorgan Chase seized the property through foreclosure in February 2010, and Dzvonick sued to get it back, saying the bank had wrongfully foreclosed. The legal tug-of-war ended in December, when U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro dismissed the case.
When the home went on the market earlier this summer and garnered media attention, the listing agency was getting 100 calls a day from curiosity seekers and possible buyers the world over, Wolfe said.
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