Former William Harrah Lake Tahoe Mansion Listed for Sale at $25.75M

Posted on: June 18, 2019, 03:18h. 

Last updated on: June 18, 2019, 03:27h.

The Lake Tahoe home of casino pioneer William Harrah was once the hottest invite for Hollywood’s A-list celebs. Today, it’s on the market for a cool $25.75 million.

William Harrah Lake Tahoe resort casino
Rooms with views: William Harrah’s Lake Tahoe estate is on the market. (Image: Compass)

Known as Villa Harrah, the legendary eight-bed, seven-bath sprawling estate overlooking Lake Tahoe features endless amenities including a full salon and spa, Himalayan salt cave, private beach and pier, swimming pool, home theater, and – perhaps most noteworthy – a storied history.

The house located at 1028 Skyland Drive in Zephyr Cove was built in the early 1960s by the casino visionary, and became a regular Rat Pack hangout for Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr, as well as countless celebrities from Wizard of Oz actress Judy Garland to comedian Steve Martin.

An underground tunnel system connected nearby houses and allowed celebs to come and go with ease. The tunnel system was closed off recently according to Tahoe Quarterly magazine.

Harrah died in 1978 at the age of 66, long before his namesake casino firm would go on to purchase Caesars Entertainment.

Tahoe Tunnels

Lake Tahoe might be a few hundred miles from Las Vegas, but the resort region has been home to some of Nevada’s most notorious celebrity stories.

Located 15 miles north directly across the lake from Villa Harrah is the famed Cal Neva Resort & Casino. The iconic property was once owned by Sinatra, who purchased the property in 1960 along with Dean Martin and Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.

It was Giancana’s involvement that led to the feds to keep tabs on the casino. Similarly to Villa Harrah, Cal Neva had a network of underground tunnels that allowed celebrities – and allegedly mobsters – to move freely.

After the FBI detected Giancana at the Lake Tahoe casino, the Nevada Gaming Control Board – which William Harrah had helped form in 1955 to rid the state gaming industry of illicit activity – revoked Sinatra’s operating license. The singer and actor later sold the resort after being attacked in the media for allegedly using the casino for illegal activities.

Cal Neva exchanged ownership several times, and was operated by Jack Warner of Warner Bros., and also Kirk Kerkorian, the father of the “mega resort” who built Las Vegas’ largest casino three times.

Nevada Real Estate

Cal Neva fell into bankruptcy in 2013. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison bought the property in early 2018 for $35.8 million.

The tech billionaire – the world’s No. 7 richest person with a fortune estimated at $64.5 billion – is amid renovating the casino into a five-star resort. The 10-story hotel is undergoing a makeover, and the deteriorating single-level lodge is being replaced. The destination will additionally feature a spa, conference center, and several restaurants.

Cal Neva isn’t the only Lake Tahoe investment Ellison has made. He’s building an 18,000-square-foot “getaway” mansion on the North Shore, per the Sacramento Bee.

According to active listings on, Villa Harrah isn’t the most expensive residential property currently for sale in Nevada, or even on Lake Tahoe. That distinction would go to an eight-bed, 11-bath expanse near Cal Neva that’s listed for $75 million called Crystal Pointe.

There’s also a $46.99 million listing near Villa Harrah in Zephyr Cove that comes with the same lakefront views, but not the stories from the gaming industry’s past.