Photo Credit: Steve Beutel
Academy Award winner Joan Fontaine’s auction proceeds to go to Monterey SPCA, including residential property Villa Fontana. The house is expected to go for between $2 million and $3 million.
Sotheby’s International Realty Broker and the executor of Fontaine’s estate, Noel Beutel, stated that the house contents would be sold in four auctions between November and January. And the SPCA could gain over $1 million from the auctions on top of the sale of the house. One item up for grabs? The Academy Award earned for Alfred Hitchcock‘s Suspicion (1941) that’s expected to go up to $200,000 in December.
Beutel reminisced to Leyde how her friend “loved her animals” and adopted three of her dogs from SPCA. Appreciation of landscaping and animals runs deep.
In a 2008 interview with Vanity Fair, Fontaine called Villa Fontana her most-treasured possession and idea of perfection involved “working in my garden while my five A.S.P.C.A. dogs smell the roses … or water them.” And eerily enough, she wished to die “in bed—alone.” The house offered the privacy she craved while allowing her to walk among the beautiful landscape.
“She was a wonderful person, just a wonderful friend.” Admitting that estate’s “been an overwhelming job,” he still feels “honored that she trusted me enough to have me handle it.”
And it’s not just the value of the property. While it “needs quite a bit of work,” the charm makes it “just amazing” when combined with the privacy and spectacular views.
Villa Fontana’s three acreages in Carmel Highlands boasts a 4,300-square-foot ranch-style with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a finished basement, and first floor master suite. There’s also a guest suite located separately, as well as a garden with roughly 500 roses. Until recently, Fontaine tended the garden herself.
The 96-year-old died on Dec. 15, 2013, after living in the house for three decades. Beutel says while the actress was reticent to journalists invading her house for interviews, Fontaine still took the time to answer “all of her fan mails personally” because “she was very good about things like that.”
And the animal theme isn’t entirely out the norm when researching about the British-born actress. After living in the U.S. for most of her life, she later became naturalized in 1943.
She explained the rivalry to journalist Angela Dunn in 1992. “My sister was born a lion, and I a tiger, and in the laws of the jungle, they were never friends.” And the fact that the Hollywood elite seemed to not like the upstart young woman stalled a career expected to gain more than one Oscar win and three nominations.
Right now, Sotheby’s has listed the property for $2.6 million. All of Fontaine’s proceeds will go towards “improvement to its Animal Care and Adoption Center” and “a wing of the Adoption Center will be dedicated to her memory.”
During the Great Recession, many animal organizations faced difficult decisions concerning budget and in-take of animals. So the money will be very important to the area by alleviating room for smaller rescues and fosters.
And the Carmel seems to attract animal lovers and advocates since legendary actress Doris Day lives about 5 miles away.
Joan Fontaine’s dreams of better animal cares will be realized thanks to her generosity.