In 1896, Willis Polk designed this "Cottage" for William Bowers Bourn II. The exterior is clad in clinker brick and was financed from the Mother Lode vein of gold that created one of San Francisco's greatest fin de siècle fortunes. Over the years the home became a curiosity and fell into disrepair before being purchased by the current owners in 2010.
We found an article from 1998 written by Jack Boulware that we thought you would enjoy!
The Fortress on the Hill
Once, she partied with the Rolling Stones. Now, shunned by family and sued by friends, aging eccentric Arden Van Upp has retreated to her mansion.
Something about the narcissistic Bay Area compels affluent people to push the limits of eccentricity. They reinvent themselves, shun responsibility, and pursue a good time. The party started with the birth of the Barbary Coast, and continues on up to Willie Brown.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in stately Pacific Heights, where gargantuan homes are owned by scions of old-money California, people who park imported cars in the driveways and keep ketchup bottles on the table.
One especially creepy-looking mansion sits next to the Italian Consulate, at the top of Webster Street. It's something else altogether.
The only person living inside the 27-room Bourn Mansion is Arden Van Upp, along with her white Chinchilla Persian cats. She's lived there for 25 years, a small-town girl from Vallejo who came to San Francisco and reinvented herself as a wealthy landlord and society eccentric.
With its enormous second-floor ballroom, and two-story stained-glass windows, the Bourn Mansion was an ideal place for throwing wild parties in the '70s. Great meals, fine wines, good drugs, the promise of sex in the air. Celebrities showed up: the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, the Pointer Sisters. Porn films were shot there.
But that's all over now. The four-story Bourn Mansion stands in extreme disrepair. An estimated $2 million of work is needed to meet earthquake safety codes, more than the building is worth. The roof leaks and the wallpaper peels. Recent visitors say everything stinks of cat urine. The back yard is knee-deep in weeds, and garbage is heaped in a compost pile. Raccoons poke around in the filth. The party's over.
Arden Van Upp no longer answers the phone. She peeks out a window to see who's knocking on the door, but never answers. It could be process servers after her for more building code violations, or because tenants at her rental properties have filed more lawsuits. One Christmas Eve, it was her own family, accompanied by police and firetrucks. They were searching for Van Upp's 89-year-old mother, whom Van Upp had spirited away and hidden from her siblings.
In a city that encourages people to live without regard for the rules, occasionally the walls of self-invention crumble and fall inward. In the case of Arden Van Upp, the high-society patina has grown tarnished. Former friends avoid her. Many have sued her. Her family refuses to speak to her, except through attorneys.
And to Van Upp, apparently, none of this is her fault.
With its good weather and healthy economy, the community of Vallejo, northeast of San Francisco, was an ideal place to raise a family in the 1930s. Sabin Rich coached sports in local schools, his wife, Doris, raised their four children. By World War II, the Riches were dabbling in real estate. The nearby shipyards of Mare Island Naval Station drew a constant stream of new tenants to the area. The Rich family purchased homes and moved them onto vacant lots, eventually building up a nice collection of properties in Vallejo and Benicia. Doris formed the Solano-Napa Rental Housing Association.
Early on, oldest daughter Arden distinguished herself from her brother and two sisters, developing a strong resistance to authority and a deep love for animals. According to her siblings, the family's pet sheep once got out of hand and knocked down her younger sister, Myrna, who was a toddler at the time. Arden's parents had the sheep taken away and slaughtered. Arden cried and cried over the loss of the sheep, Myrna says, but seemed little concerned with the well-being of her sister.
While beat-generation youth wore berets and played bongo drums, Arden Rich attended San Francisco State, studying to be a nurse, then got a job at the Napa State Hospital. She married a sailor from Mare Island named Van Upp, moved to Los Angeles, and had a child. But the couple soon divorced, and Arden Van Upp returned to Vallejo. Doris and Sabin Rich raised Arden's daughter, Tammy, in their home.
In the late 1960s, Van Upp moved to San Francisco and struck out on her own. She bought two rental properties -- an apartment building at 1019 Ashbury, and another at 2807 Steiner -- and worked as a public health nurse in the projects.
One day Van Upp's real estate broker, George Rowan, took her to see a property he thought might interest her -- a 27-room mansion in Pacific Heights built in 1896 by architect Willis Polk for William B. Bourn II. Owner of the Mother Lode's most productive gold mine, Bourn launched the utility company that became Pacific Gas & Electric. The early San Francisco millionaire had commissioned the town house on Webster Street as a grand place to throw parties. When Van Upp first saw the house, it was a steal, available for $185,000.
"The murals, gorgeous floors, the woodwork -- this is a true mansion," says Rowan, who is still a Bay Area real estate broker. "It is a real treasure. It could end up a gift to the city."
But somebody else was also eyeing the Bourn Mansion, a young Yale-educated doctor who lived in San Mateo. His name was Lawrence E. Badgley.
The charismatic, clever Badgley had a reputation in the rock 'n' roll scene. He cut a dashing figure as the "Dr. Feelgood" character who accompanied the Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour, which was documented by Robert Frank in the film Cocksucker Blues. The debauched road show of backstage booze, drugs, and teenage groupies was recounted in sleazy detail by Truman Capote for Rolling Stone magazine.
In July 1973, Van Upp and Badgley decided to become partners in purchasing the Bourn property. The two agreed that, in the event of a split, one would buy the other out. If they couldn't agree on who should get the house or a fair buyout price, an arbitrator would get to decide.
Van Upp was in her mid-30s and Badgley was 29 when the deal was cut. As soon as they took control of the property, the parties began. Van Upp moved in immediately, Badgley within a few months.
Like most parties in the 1970s, the Bourn Mansion soirees were pretty wild, remembered by some who attended for their fine wines and lavish meals. For years, neighbors talked about one party where a chorus line of women in ostrich feathers and low-cut outfits walked out of the mansion to greet elderly gentlemen in a waiting row of black limousines.
Rowan remembers getting a phone call one evening from Badgley asking if Rowan wanted to meet the Rolling Stones. Rowan arrived at the band's Fairmont Hotel suite, and soon members of the Stones and their entourage were piling into Rowan's antique Oldsmobile, heading off for a tour of the Bourn Mansion.
"Mick Jagger didn't come. He was occupied with a young woman," says Rowan. "Rod Stewart's wife liked it the best."
But the merriment masked a growing tension between the two party hosts. Badgley and Van Upp apparently were feuding. On New Year's Eve 1975, Badgley abruptly moved out of the mansion, claiming he was suffering great emotional and mental stress, and feared for his well-being.
The split launched a nasty legal struggle that would last for more than two decades.
The notorious "Feelgood File" has occupied the San Francisco courts for 23 years, one of the longest-running civil cases in the city's history. Badgley and Van Upp have each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, declared bankruptcy, and burned through several sets of attorneys in their real estate partnership-turned-death match.
"It used to be more fun," says a court clerk, heaving a portion of Van Upp's file onto the counter. "It's kind of quieted down lately."
Contained within the bulging folders of the Feelgood File is the chronicle of a passionate and bilious battle. Badgley wanted Van Upp to sell her share of the mansion to him. Van Upp swore the house was rightfully hers, and that Badgley would never get it.
As the fight escalated, Badgley essentially argued that Van Upp was unfit to own the house. He claimed Van Upp was illegally renting out rooms and never shared any profits with him. Some rooms were rented without his consent, he claimed, while others were let in exchange for food stamps, maintenance work, or even flower arrangements for the house.
Badgley alleged that Van Upp threw parties where booze was sold illegally and teenagers smoked marijuana. In one particularly bizarre soiree described in court documents, hundreds of black people supposedly showed up for a Halloween party with their skin painted pink.
The house was also used as a set for porn films, which Badgley claimed could expose him to personal liability. Court documents dutifully list the 8mm loops in question, the 1977 Swedish Erotica titles Moving Parts, Tea Time, and The Swizzle Stick, which starred the prodigiously endowed John Holmes.
In the course of the suit, Badgley demanded a complete accounting of Van Upp's finances. She informed the court that she scribbled all her bookkeeping records on scraps of paper and threw them in boxes. She also admitted letting a maintenance crew have free rent, and giving the crew's boss the keys to her Porsche 928.
The very week Van Upp's accounting records were due in court, they were conveniently stolen from the trunk of her Mercedes, which was parked in front of her home. A former tenant later confessed he took the boxes and dumped them at a carwash. Van Upp claimed the thief was hired by Badgley. She also said she had been the victim of three other thefts -- coincidentally, all of financial documents.
Van Upp proved herself capable of attacking Badgley as well. After Badgley moved out of the house, she claimed she received 60 phone calls in 24 hours, the voice on the other end saying, "Die bitch, you're dead!"
Van Upp argued in court filings that Badgley paid people to move into the house and spy on her, and even rented an apartment across the street so that he could look directly into her bedroom window. She claimed that over the years, parties thrown by Badgley's friends resulted in a rape, a murder, and a guy passing out drunk and setting a bed afire. Badgley shouldn't be given the house, Van Upp said, because he never helped at all with regular payments or maintenance. In fact, Van Upp argued, Badgley actually owed her no less than $150,000.
Throughout the late 1970s and all of the 1980s, the mountain of legal paperwork grew. Court reporters typed up motions for continuances, arbitration conferences, motions granted and denied, declarations, complaints, and stipulations to interlocutory judgments.
Badgley's attorney, David Birenbaum, entertained bored court clerks with his expansive vocabulary, tossing out terms like subterfuge, poppycock, horsefeathers, bilge water, hokum, the tooth fairy, and "kaleidoscopic madness."
"The Bourn Mansion became a sort of hotel of convenience for a conglomeration of transient roomers and boarders, with Ms. Van Upp as the ruling matriarch," Birenbaum claimed. "The defendant has dipped deep into a sewer of desperation in concocting her story of stolen records as a diversionary gambit."
In between court appearances and filing appeals, Van Upp kept renting her apartments and throwing parties. A Bourn Mansion houseboy named Steve Dobbins, now a local theatrical producer, staged a version of Tom Stoppard's play The Real Inspector Hound inside the home.
Badgley, in turn, continued his medical practice, and opened a business called the Human Energy Church, which published books and sponsored seminars on homeopathic cures for AIDS.
On March 19, 1992, 19 years after the pair bought the Bourn Mansion, a judge ruled against Van Upp, and singled out her accounting methods as "a vague hodgepodge with no proof of accuracy or reliable evidence of linking to the property in question."
Badgley was awarded $590,557.50, plus $52,500 in attorney fees.
George Rowan and others familiar with the case say that Badgley ultimately did sell his interest in the building to Van Upp. But she was forced to declare bankruptcy, sell one of her properties, and refinance two others to pay off the bills -- her payments to Badgley, another $300,000 to her attorneys, and over $100,000 she owed to the city.
Badgley now lives in Eureka, Calif. Neither Van Upp nor Badgley responded to requests for interviews for this article. As of December 1998, Van Upp's bankruptcy case was still pending.
For Van Upp, the fight over the Bourn Mansion has been just one of many legal problems.
Dr. Robert Horan and Dr. Jan Lazlo sit in the neon-lit lounge of the Holiday Inn on Van Ness. When the waitress takes their order for coffee, they wink at her and ask that they not be disturbed, unless it's by beautiful women.
Handsome and stocky, the 48-year-old Horan wears a dark suit and tie. Lazlo is 72 and retired, dapper in a blue newsboy cap, blue sweater, and a necktie sporting 49ers logos. He walks with a cane from a recent mugging on BART.
The two men socialized with Arden Van Upp from the mid-1980s through 1994. They attended her dinner parties in Pacific Heights, and Horan lived in one of her apartments. They have a few words to say about her.
"I'd like to strangle her," says Lazlo in his Transylvanian accent.
"She needs a checkup from the neck up," says Horan.
When they met her in 1983, Van Upp looked to still be living in the 1960s, with long straight hair and a hippie dress. She was chatty, dropped names, and seemed to be some sort of society columnist. Upon meeting the doctors, she asked them how much money they made. Horan told her he was a chiropractor, his clients were the 49ers and the Oakland A's, and he owned racehorses. Lazlo described his youth in a Siberian camp, and his experiences training jungle cats for the Ringling Bros. circus. He worked as the physical therapist for the jockeys at Bay Meadows. Van Upp invited the two men to dinner parties at the Bourn Mansion.
Both remember the dinners were excellent, the wines, champagne, and guests carefully chosen. Lazlo would roll up his sleeve and show off the scar where a Bengal tiger had chomped on his arm. Later in the evenings, people would go joy riding in Sid Silverberg's Rolls-Royce.
"It was the San Francisco 'in' crowd," says Horan. "Through her parties, I met lots of ladies." Both nod and sip their coffee. Those were the days.
But as they got to know Van Upp better, they noticed traits that seemed peculiar for a woman who owned a few million dollars' worth of real estate. Van Upp didn't tell many people that she was a landlord. Much of her time seemed to be spent circulating at parties, sifting through people to find wealth. Nobody ever saw her drink or use drugs. She never had a boyfriend. She almost always took public transit. She never used credit cards, and never seemed to have any cash on hand. She attended free wine-and-cheese receptions almost every day. If someone took her to lunch, she would steal the sugar packets.
Horan turns the Holiday Inn's sugar caddy over in his hand, and mimes stuffing the packets into his coat pocket. "I've seen her do this before!" he laughs. "Like a squirrel, hoarding the nuts."
Van Upp talked about her lengthy court battle with Badgley. Horan watched her borrow $30,000 from her mother to pay attorneys, so they wouldn't pull out of the case.
In 1994 Van Upp rented Horan an apartment in her building on Steiner, a top-floor unit on the Pacific Heights hill, with a great view of the bay. One afternoon he walked out onto his balcony, leaned on the railing, and it collapsed. He fell 28 feet into the weeds. Horan filed a lawsuit against Van Upp, claiming two herniated discs, numbness, and blurred vision.
"If you looked at a videotape of it, it probably looks humorous, but I could have been killed," Horan says.
When his attorneys tried to notify Van Upp that she was being taken to court, they ran into a problem. She seemed to vanish off the face of the Earth.
Horan's lawyers mailed four letters to Van Upp's house, and left numerous phone messages. A private investigator tried at least 47 times to serve her with court papers at the mansion. Although it appeared she was living in the house, she never answered the door or responded to any of the letters or phone calls.
"She's very slippery," says Jessica Rudin, a member of Horan's legal team at the time. "I'd never had such a hard time serving somebody. I did everything I possibly could to locate the woman."
Van Upp didn't show for her appointed court date, so the court awarded Horan $104,629.50. Only then did Van Upp write the judge a letter, asking that the judgment be set aside. Van Upp claimed the award was no good because, as she typed in all caps, SHE HAD NEVER BEEN SERVED.
The court dismissed the case. Horan was furious. His attorneys resigned. In 1998, four years after the accident, Horan offered to settle with Van Upp for $5,000, and her attorneys accepted. Horan says he tried to call her after it was over, but she hung up on him.
The "in" crowd went their separate ways. Van Upp focused on her party referral service, where for $50 a year customers are faxed a weekly list of free or nearly free parties and events in the Bay Area. She still went to functions almost every night, but no longer hosted parties. Every time a visitor knocked, a curtain parted on the top floor, and someone looked out to see who it was.
"I don't hate Arden," Horan says. "It seems like she's not a happy person. It's almost like she's gone underground."
Caselli Street winds through the hills between Twin Peaks and the Castro District, lined with orderly rows of residential homes. Spoiling this view, as it has for years, is a broken-down, abandoned Victorian building. Until this year, 58 Caselli was another of Arden Van Upp's properties. It is her biggest real estate disaster.
The windows and front door are boarded up. The second floor's wall has been ripped away, and hoses, boards, and pipes end in midair. The back yard and basement are filled with crumbling bricks, a busted toilet, piles of wood and garbage. Amid all the rubbish, a clock ticks away on a nail, set to the current time.
"You see Safeway shopping carts in front," says a neighbor named Robert, whose mother lives next door. "Homeless people go in there when it's cold."
Robert says nobody has lived in the house for at least six years. He considered buying the property, but it was too tangled up in the courts. The neighbors have filed numerous complaints about the deserted structure, but as Robert says, "What good does that do?"
This building made its debut in court files in 1984, when the city and county first declared it a public nuisance. The legal owner, Tammy Van Upp, aka Tammy Manouchehri-Zadeh, was ordered to either repair or demolish it. But she never showed up in court. Sheriff Michael Hennessey issued a bench warrant for her arrest. Five years later, Tammy surfaced and told the court she had been living abroad, and thought her mother was taking care of the property. She then transferred the deed on the building to one "Dee Rich." City attorneys were confused. Who was Dee Rich?
Among her other quirky personality traits, Arden Van Upp is prone to sign different names to different pieces of paper. She is known to the courts, banks, and various government agencies as Arden Van Upp, Dee Rich, D. Rich, Marilyn Dee Rich, Arden Von Driska, Arden Dee Rich, Arden Dee Van Upp, Rosalind Rich (her sister's name), Myrna Rich (her other sister's name), Dee Van Upp, Arden Rich, Dee El Malik, Arden El Malik, Mrs. Sam Sloan, Mabel Warwick, and, in a nod to the other gender, Lester Barney.
Arden Van Upp assured the court she would fix the code violations, but no improvements were ever made. A later inspection found even more violations, including an illegal swimming pool and extra dwelling unit. Van Upp argued that she had tried to renovate the property, but then filed Chapter 11, which blocked further legal action against her. Her legal sidestepping did not sit well with the city. A demolition permit was issued for a second building at the rear of the property, and it was torn down.
Six more years went by, and after Van Upp again refused to appear in court, she was penalized $101,481.04. A letter arrived from Van Upp. She again moved to set the judgment aside because she was never served. Unbelievably, the case was dismissed.
In June of 1998, Carlos Castro of Ace Construction says he and a partner purchased 58 Caselli. They paid $430,000 to Van Upp's attorneys, who had assumed ownership. The new owners inspected their purchase. The roof was caved in. The interior was so gutted that bums and squatters were forced to sleep in the back yard. According to Castro, the building once operated as a male cabaret, back in the late '60s.
"In the basement were torture chambers," he says. "We found some chains down there. It's incredible. These big banner posters of what they were. It was so weird."
Castro and his partner plan to tear down the building and build three condos on the property. Their building plans are already on file with the city.
"It's 15 years of total neglect," he says. "She just let it go."
Wayne Jebian walks into his bedroom and points at what looks like a black metal box with a stovepipe running out of it. The rental listings for his apartment advertised a fireplace. This is it. When Jebian asked PG&E to inspect the "fireplace" he was told it was a gas heater, and it was a complete fire hazard.
"It's basically a TV stand," says Jebian.
Jebian and his fiancee, Deborah Davidson, have lived for a year at 272 Downey. New to the city, the young couple spent months looking for an apartment, a task made doubly hard because they had two dogs. Amazingly, they found a vacancy in the Upper Haight. Everyplace else had a waiting list, but, for some reason, people weren't elbowing each other to rent 272 Downey.
As soon as they moved in, the upstairs neighbors warned them about their landlord. Her name was Dee Rich.
Although the apartment hadn't been cleaned since the previous tenants left, Jebian and Davidson were charged a $300 cleaning deposit. The unit had no heat, the windows leaked, and the electricity went out frequently. If they used an electric baseboard heater, the bills ran up $300 extra per month. The walls and ceiling were peeling plaster and stained with water leaks. The bathroom faucets rattled, and the toilet wouldn't flush unless you held down the handle and counted out 11 seconds.
Jebian and Davidson told their landlord about the problems, but she always seemed to have excuses. They noticed she was kind of odd. When she first met them, she lied and said she was the rental agent, instead of the landlord. She acted distant, she mumbled, she didn't finish her sentences. She didn't get along with women much. She was extraordinarily cheap. She never trimmed any of the vegetation outside the building, except ivy. For some reason, she hated the ivy. She seemed to go through a lot of contractors and tenants. Using her key, she wandered into their apartment while one of them was taking a shower.
Jebian and Davidson spent $2,000 renovating the apartment and making it livable. The windows still leak, and it still has no heat. Because of a clause in the rental contract, they will never be reimbursed.
The couple filed for reduction in their rent with the Rent Board, citing a decrease in services, and their hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4. They have given up on San Francisco, and plan to move back east and get married, but now they don't have rental references or credit. As this article goes to press, Van Upp has served them with an eviction notice.
"We thought that we could live with her," says Jebian. "We would pay her on time, and she would leave us alone. We ended up dealing with Dee."
Dealing with Dee Rich, aka Arden Van Upp, has been a way of life for tenants of 272 Downey for many years.
In 1983 Ann Moore and John Hardesty moved into 272 Downey. In addition to the refuse water pouring onto their window from an upstairs washing machine, and the brown water coming out of their faucets, they noticed problems that would mirror many of Jebian and Davidson's complaints 14 years later: an illegal parking space, no heat, windows that didn't open, intermittent electricity, mice and roaches, and a landlady who entered their apartment without notice or permission.
Actions filed by the city and county against Van Upp didn't seem to help, and neither did the Rent Board, so in 1986 Moore and Hardesty stopped paying rent for eight months, hoping Van Upp would correct the conditions. She responded by serving to evict them, claiming they never provided her with keys to their apartment.
Moore and Hardesty took her to court. She claimed she had never been served, but this time the judge didn't buy it. Moore and Hardesty settled for $60,000 from Van Upp, and the case was dismissed, six years later.
A maintenance man who lived in the building recalls another incident from 1997. Two girls were living in the same apartment, 272 Downey. One day their toilet plugged up, sending raw sewage out into the driveway. Van Upp refused to pay for a Roto-Rooter call.
"There's turds floating in the driveway," the maintenance man told her. She still refused to pay any bills. The tenants ended up footing the bill.
"She's your classic, basic slumlord," says the maintenance man, who begs anonymity. "She likes to think of herself as not normal. It gives her license to be eccentric, to be inconsiderate, uncaring, and complain about how the world is treating her. She thinks she's eccentric, but it's not eccentric. They have some nobility, some flair of some kind. She's at the other end, the butt end."
Although many other court cases remain on file against Van Upp, real estate broker George Rowan, her friend for 30 years, scoffs at the complaints.
"The lady's one of the most honorable people I've dealt in business with," Rowan says. "She keeps everything in nice shape. The woman has been maligned. I wouldn't be surprised when you visited them, if the tenants dumped garbage everywhere. A tenant never sees a mouse, it's always a rat."
Rats and garbage aside, Van Upp's biggest and most emotional legal battle isn't with the city, her tenants, or her business partners. Her toughest adversaries are people she's known nearly 60 years -- her own family.
On Christmas Eve 1994, a commotion was in progress at 2550 Webster. Police and sheriff's patrol cars were parked outside. A hook-and-ladder truck from the Fire Department had extended its ladder to an upper-story window of the Bourn Mansion. The courts were once again trying to serve Arden Van Upp. This time, she was accused of hiding her 89-year-old mother.
When the front door was opened, and Van Upp was approached by a process server, she claimed she was her sister Myrna. Police officers and firemen were wandering about the mansion, gawking at the murals and antiques, and admiring the vintage Chevy Camaro in the garage, with the ceiling caved in on it.
"It was like a Mack Sennett comedy," Neel Rich says. "It's unbelievable."
Van Upp was fighting her brother and sister over the estate and medical care of their mother, Doris. Three weeks earlier, Arden had gotten fed up with the process, put Doris in a car, and driven her to San Francisco. On that Christmas Eve, Arden's siblings were trying to find out if Doris was being kept at the Bourn Mansion.
Relations between the Rich siblings first deteriorated when Neel, a retired engineer and Arden's older brother, started looking into the specifics of his mother's estate. Doris owned the family's 14 rental units in Vallejo and Benicia, worth at least $1.5 million, and she indicated she wanted to readjust her will. Neel, Myrna, and Arden visited an attorney, to begin assessing the family legacy. They say they came upon an ugly realization. The way Arden was able to buy San Francisco real estate on a public nurse's salary, pay her many sets of attorneys, and live the life to which she was accustomed was by using her mother's money. The Riches say Arden took almost $700,000.
"My sister would come over with blank checkbooks, and my mother would sign them all," explains Myrna. "That happened several times. My sister was an R.N. She knew that my mother was having trouble remembering. I don't understand. We weren't raised to be dishonest with money."
Myrna asked her mother why she loaned Arden so much money.
"I felt sorry for her," Doris answered. "It's because nobody likes her."
Neel and Myrna quickly started the long process of sorting out all their mother's finances. But Christmas 1994 was a tough one. Doris Rich was still missing.
A court order was issued for Arden Van Upp to relinquish her mother. The following month, Solano County court investigator Beth Rhea knocked on the door of 2550 Webster. Arden was to meet her there and release Doris. There was no sign of either Arden or Mrs. Rich, but Van Upp's daughter Tammy let Rhea into the building.
Rhea noticed immediately that the first floor was very dark and cold. Extension cords were running everywhere. She went up the stairs to the upper-story room where Doris had apparently been staying the past several weeks. In the room was a simple bed, a chair, a stinky cat box, and newspapers on the floor.
"There was a leftover bowl of food from supper the night before," Rhea remembers. "And the cat box. I mean, I have cats too, but this was gross. Undergarments stained with feces, hanging on the fire grate. There was no way to get up and down. People had to bring her food up the stairs. It was not a real safe place for her."
Arden Van Upp still refused to divulge the whereabouts of her mother, so on Jan. 10 she was arrested and deposited in the Solano County Jail. She was released three days later, when Doris Rich was discovered in an Alameda hospital.
Both Neel and Myrna Rich now say the furor over their mother has quieted down. Doris Rich is receiving medical care. Her estate is now in order. Arden is allowed to visit her. But everybody knows this is only a break in the action.
"After she passes away, it's gonna be another big mess," says Myrna.
"Oh, we go to court all the time!" Neel says cheerfully.
Badgley and Van Upp have each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, declared bankruptcy, and burned through several sets of attorneys in their real estate partnership-turned-death match.
Van Upp didn't tell many people that she was a landlord. Much of her time seemed to be spent circulating at parties, sifting through people to find wealth. She never used credit cards, and never seemed to have any cash on hand. If someone took her to lunch, she would steal the sugar packets.
"She's your classic, basic slumlord," says the maintenance man. "She likes to think of herself as not normal. It gives her license to be eccentric, to be inconsiderate, uncaring, and complain about how the world is treating her."
"She keeps everything in nice shape," Rowan says. "The woman has been maligned. I wouldn't be surprised when you visited them, if the tenants dumped garbage everywhere.