Queen of the Hill


The famed Malibu castle now has a queen. Renowned philanthropist and party giver Lilly Lawrence is turning the fairy-tale property into her palace by the sea. “Isn’t it exciting?” Lawrence said. “I just love the romance of it.”

Lawrence purchased the whimsical estate for $2.8 million and plans on making “a few little renovations.” Those renovations include the addition of an infinity pool, rock pool, numerous courtyard fountains, a gym room, an ocean-view ballroom and a rock-and-roll room to house her impressive collection of music memorabilia. When complete, newly renamed “Kashan Court” will provide the perfect backdrop for Lilly’s lavish bashes. “I do like to entertain,” she says in a playful tone.

Her eight-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot medieval fortress was built in 1978 by Dr. Tom Hodges. Dressed in natural stone, it was modeled after a 13th century Scottish castle and has become one of the city’s most intriguing landmarks.

Although she maintains homes around the world, Lawrence is no stranger to Malibu. Her late husband, Bunty Lawrence, grew up in the house next to Frank Capra’s, and his parents were among the area’s first non-Chumash residents. She remembers admiring the castle years ago. When she returned as a potential buyer, it was love at first sight. “There is something magical about it,” she says. “You have the Pacific laid out before you like a tapestry and the mountains embracing you on the other side.”

The ecstasy of Malibu is obvious, but between fires, floods and Caltrans, newcomers are wise to expect a little agony too. How will this strikingly beautiful, international jet setter fair under the next El Nino or slide or blaze? Have no fear, Lawrence already exhibits the true Malibu spirit. “Once you’ve been up there,” she says, “nothing else matters.” And so enter Lilly Lawrence, the effervescent, merry widow who’s ready for the good and the bad, come rain or come shine. She may sparkle in gems, she may throw a mean party, but she also drives an El Camino.