Monday, February 15, 2016

Falcon Lair - Juan Romero's Reign 1936 - 1945

While Falcon Lair will forever be associated with Rudolph Valentino, in truth Rudy owned the house but for a very short time. Less than 18 months.  True, he made changes to the house which was only two years old when he bought it in the spring of 1925.
After his death the house went on the market in the famous auction in December 1926.  However the winning bidder of the home never paid, nor took possession of the home.  Infighting between the Valentino family heirs and executor of the estate, S. George Ullman caused the home to remain empty and vacant for a whole decade after Rudy's death.  In 1936 a man named Juan Romero entered the scene and purchased the property.
Juan Romero respected very much the Valentino legacy which he inherited with the home.  However he made his own imprint on the home that lasted so long that many people associated some of the changes Romero made as being done by Rudolph.
It was Juan Romero who put the cement paths and pillars in the rear of the home.  It was Juan Romero who knocked out the back wall of Rudy's bedroom (which had two circular windows) and extended the length of the room by 5 and a half feet, with arch windows.  It was Juan Romero who switched out the  original Spanish style fireplace mantles in the library and living room and replaced them with marble.
However, 9 years later, for reasons unknown, Juan Romero lost interest in the property and in 1945 sold the home to Gypsy Buys.  He placed all the furnishings on the auction block, and for a second time, a Falcon Lair sale was held.  While Romero did own several original Valentino estate items, none of these were included in the Falcon Lair auction of 1945.
Copies of this auction catalog are very rare.
Here are some rare photos that show Juan Romero and the Falcon Lair auction of 1945

Juan Romero looks at some of his Valentino Estate items

In the living room of Falcon Lair; Juan Romero views various Valentino Estate items he owns

The cement pillars/fencing in the rear of the property was all put in by Juan Romero

The 1945 sale.  Items were listed as "removed from Falcon Lair" as if to hint
that Valentino had owned them.  Nothing in the catalog contained items that were
owned by Rudolph Valentino.  The only Valentino connection would be the phrase "removed
from Falcon Lair"

Front page from the "removed from Falcon Lair" 1945 sale

Romero's piano as depicted in auction catalog

Here is the piano in the catalog when it was in Falcon Lair.  It is in the exact
same location in the living room as where Valentino's own Piano was located

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