For three decades, this sinister Richmond District home, painted black and smoky purple, was the worldwide headquarters of Anton LaVey, whose blend of sex, Satan and showmanship made him the media's favorite devil worshiper.
Today, the property at 6114 California St. looks like the Addams Family home after a Saturday night frat party. Smashed furniture and a soiled mattress lay amid a mountain of garbage in the small front yard, behind a tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.
Adding insult to injury, some blasphemous graffiti artist has scrawled the words ``Jesus Rulz'' on the mail slot.
LaVey, 67, died of heart disease in 1997, two days before Halloween, at (of all places) St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco.
Often called ``the Black Pope,'' LaVey has left behind a messy legacy of lawsuits, family infighting and decaying real estate.
Earlier this month, lawyers for LaVey's two grown daughters, Zeena Schreck and Karla LaVey, along with an attorney representing Blanche Barton -- his last consort, high priestess and mother of his 5-year-old son, Xerxes -- appeared before a probate judge in San Francisco Superior Court.
Friday, a tentative settlement was reached in the case.
At issue was a handwritten will dated March 9, 1995, in which LaVey left Barton ``all writings, artwork, property and holdings.'' Continuing royalties from his books, including his 1969 manifesto, the ``Satanic Bible,'' were to be held in a trust for Xerxes ``unless Blanche Barton deems otherwise.''
Karla LaVey challenged the will in a lawsuit filed last year, contending that her father ``was not of sound and disposing mind and was under the influence of medication.''
She further alleged that Barton had ``undue influence'' over her ailing father because, as his only caregiver, she ``threatened to leave him if he did not do what she wanted.''
In response, Barton posted a proclamation on the Internet, a favorite vehicle for satanic communication, accusing Karla LaVey of falsely ``claiming the title of High Priestess of the Church of Satan for herself.'' ``Though she has reluctantly agreed to a handful of interviews over recent years,'' Barton wrote, ``she hasn't participated in the actual operation of the Church for a very long time.''
Barton has also sought to deny any inheritance to Anton LaVey's younger daughter, Schreck, noting that she joined a rival satanic sect, the Temple of Set, and publicly denounced her ``un-father'' in 1990.
Both Karla LaVey and Schreck were the product of LaVey's common-law marriage to Diane Hegarty from 1962 to 1986. One of the highlights of that unholy union was Schreck's 1967 satanic baptism at the Black House, when she was 3 years old. The liturgy featured a naked 30-year-old priestess draped over the altar, breathing heavily, while Anton LaVey intoned, ``Hail Satan!''
LaVey lost ownership of the Black House in 1991, when a San Francisco judge ordered him to sell the property, along with his satanic memorabilia, and split the money with his estranged wife. Included among the devilish artifacts were a shrunken head, a reproduction of King Tut's sarcophagus, and a stuffed wolf.
Despite the liquidation sale, the Black Pope was able to remain in the Black House by selling the property to a friend, San Francisco real estate developer Donald Werby, who let LaVey live out his final years in the notorious home.
After LaVey's death, Barton started a fund-raising campaign to buy the house back and turn it into a historic landmark, hoping to create a San Francisco shrine to the birthplace of latter-day devil worship. Just before she was evicted last summer, Barton sent a letter to members of the church, calling the property a priceless piece of satanic history.
``Its roots went all the way to Hell,'' she wrote. ``Now Anton LaVey is gone, and the people who own the property want to tear it down to build an apartment complex.''
While Barton tried to raise money to save the Black House, several would-be satanists complained to The Chronicle about lengthy delays in processing their $100 membership fees to join the church, which they sent to a San Francisco post office.
``The Church of Satan is dead as an entity,'' said one disgruntled member. ``Its High Priests and Magisters have become nothing more than absentee landlords trying to convince those inside and out that they still exist so the money keeps coming in.''
High Priestess Barton, who is now living in San Diego, declined a request for an interview.
But another church leader, Magister Peter Gilmore, disputes reports that the Church of Satan has gone to hell.
``The church is fine,'' said Gilmore, a church leader in New York City. ``Part of the application process is testing people to see if they have patience.''
``We want people to live their own lives, so we leave them hanging to see how they respond,'' he said. ``You are your own God.''
Attempts to reach Schreck and Karla LaVey through their attorneys were unsuccessful.
On Friday, lawyers for all three of the feuding devil worshipers filed a tentative settlement in the lawsuit over LaVey's estate.
Barton, Karla LaVey and Schreck agreed to split future royalties to Anton LaVey's works, including ``Satanic Rituals,'' ``The Devil's Notebook,'' ``The Complete Witch'' and ``Satan Takes a Holiday.'' Personal property -- including a bed of nails, a devil-horned cap, a cape with red lining and and an autographed Marilyn Monroe calendar -- will be divided among the three.
Schreck and Karla LaVey agree ``to release any and all right to operate, manage or direct the operations of the nonprofit corporation known as the Church of Satan.''
Meanwhile, the future of the Black House remains uncertain. Barton nows says she has called off her campaign to raise $400,000 to buy the property, saying donations fell way short, and promises that donors' money will be returned.
``We aren't abandoning all hope for the Black House,'' she wrote in a follow-up letter. ``We have been in contact with a number of organizations in San Francisco who make it their business to see that historically significant homes aren't destroyed.''
Werby, the owner of the property, has his own troubles. He pleaded guilty in 1990 to two misdemeanor counts of statutory rape of underage prostitutes and to two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor by offering a place for drug use.
Executives at Werby's Grosvenor Properties referred questions about the Black House to Werby's son, Todd, who said the home has been devilishly difficult to sell.
``We've talked to a few brokers, but it's not easily marketed as a house,'' he said. ``It is in such a state of disrepair.''
Property records show that a separate company, the Cass-Bagley Corp., has been set up as the legal owner of 6114 California St. Todd Werby said that corporation has no other holdings, and is partly owned by his father.
``We haven't applied for a demolition permit, but we look at it as a development site for condos,'' he said. ``You could put three units there.''
In her latest missive to fellow satanists, Barton says she still hopes a dark savior will appear to save the Black House.
``If someone's in the market for a notorious home that needs love and attention, he need look no further,'' she wrote. ``Please do all you can -- call that distant rich aunt of yours and convince her she really needs a change of scenery.'' LaVEY SETTLEMENT
How some of Anton LaVey's personal property would be divided in an out-of-court settlement filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, possibly ending a bitter fight over Church of Satan memorabilia.
-- To High Priestess Blanche Barton -- Rasputin chair, bed of nails and vintage Gramophone.
-- To daughter Zeena Schreck -- Vampire boy painting, devil horned cap, Tyrone Power ``Nightmare Alley'' movie poster and one-third of LaVey's cremated remains.
-- To daughter Karla LaVey -- Skull from ritual chamber, Satin Doll pinball machine, coffin and examination table. -- Items of property to be divided by Karla LaVey and Zeena Schreck -- autographed Marilyn Monroe calendar, magic mirror with demons and Byzantine phallus.