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How Jerry Lewis’ estate wound up on Airbnb

Updated June 18, 2020 - 8:52 am

It was one of those “Wait, wha?” moments.

The estate once owned by Jerry Lewis surfaced on Airbnb.com this past weekend. This was news to the home’s current owner, Jane Popple, who has listed the residence at 1701 Waldman Ave. in the historic Scotch 80s district for $1.25 million.

“That’s impossible,” Popple said Sunday when asked about the listing. “I’m living in it.”

Nonetheless, a guest room at the six-bedroom, six-bathroom estate was listed from at least Sunday morning through Wednesday morning. The posted two-night minimum rate was $1,500 per night. The listing was under the name of Davar Avar, who Popple says she met last year as she was selling some items from the home.

Popple purchased the house from Lewis’ widow, Sam Lewis, in June 2018. The listed purchase price was $1.2 million.

The Airbnb listing is linked to a sale of items at the house in May 2019. Popple sold a framed photo of one of the Lewis family’s chihuahuas to Avar. In that initial meeting, Avar offered to assist Popple with the health care of her boyfriend, John O’Brien, who was suffering from a heart condition as well as from a head injury he suffered during a fall at the home.

Avar, too, has experienced heath concerns and told Popple he was on veterans disability. Popple said he stayed in the guest room briefly last November, then left after Popple said his assistance was no longer needed.

The listing later mysteriously cropped up on Airbnb, under the heading “Jerry Lewis Home,” with the $1,500-per-night rate, along with a calendar for reservations and a link to message “Davar” directly.

Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Avar said he posted the Airbnb listing “awhile back” when he was considering buying the former Lewis house. Asked why he hadn’t taken the listing down, given the current owner’s concerns, Avar said, “I have cancer and I have better things to worry about.”

Then the call dropped. Efforts to reach Avar for follow-up have been unsuccessful.

Wednesday morning, the listing was nowhere to be found on the Airbnb website.

The post caught the attention of the Lewis family, which was concerned that the Jerry Lewis name was being attached to a short-term rental in a historic Las Vegas neighborhood. As Lewis’ daughter, Danielle, said Wednesday of her childhood house, “I think it’s sad how my father’s former home is being portrayed to the public right now.”

Popple has insisted the Airbnb post was a surprise to her. From Sunday morning through Tuesday morning, the estate owner consistently said she was angry about the listing. On Tuesday afternoon, she had turned the issue over to an attorney, who asked that efforts to contact her about the matter be halted because of Popple’s own health concerns.

Popple is a well-known investor in the luxury real estate market, having purchased homes in Las Vegas formerly owned by casino legend Ted Binion on Palomino Lane and singer Juan Gabriel on Pinto Lane. She has sold both estates, along with her former estate at Rancho Circle.

This is not the first unusual episode centering on the home that Lewis and his family lived in from 1982 until his death in August 2017.

In May 2019, the listing for an estate sale from the Lewis house sparked confusion and concern from neighbors and the entertainment legend’s family. Initially, it appeared Lewis’ own items were on the market. But the sale mostly included Popple’s possessions and those contributed by a jewelry collector.

Also that month, a live auction inside the home drew a stunning $2.5 million bid, as the home was listed at $1.8 million at the time. The person who issued that bid, which was not accepted, has never been identified.

The house is still listed for sale and remains on the market as a long-term rental for $9,900 per month, with a four- to six-month minimum lease.

The former Jerry Lewis home is certainly a piece of Las Vegas history, and it has quite a story.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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