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Who owns the most expensive house in the world? Where is the most expensive house in the United States? What amenities, from garages that can hold double-digit numbers of cars to regulation-sized basketball courts and multiple swimming pools, are considered standard these days? Discover the answers to these questions and so much more—including a look at some of the properties Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos picked up during his real estate spree over the last few years—with this look at 25 palatial homes, from a skyscraper in India to hilltop mansions in California.
Although rising interest rates may cool housing prices later this year, the luxury housing market remains hot for now. And as residential real estate prices continue to climb, design details such as walk-in showers that open to the outdoors or back kitchens (also known as butlers’ pantries) that hide the mess are becoming more and more commonplace in the luxury sector. Furthermore, so much time spent at home over the last two years has truly changed how we want to live in our homes, with the pandemic accelerating the move away from open floor plans and allowing architects, interior designers, and landscape architects to dream big when it comes to determining what the future of the American house will look like.
You may find inspiration for your garden or pool from “The One,” the Bel Air manse that features five swimming pools and is one of the most expensive homes in the United States, or Oprah’s rose garden in Montecito, California. After all, there is perhaps no better version of escapist fun than indulging your Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fantasy. Happy dreaming!
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Estimated value: $15 million
The basketball star’s Highland Park, Illinois, home, which has been on the market since 2012, recently saw its listing price drop to $14.9 million—roughly half of its original $29 million asking price. The Last Dance, the 2020 docuseries coproduced by ESPN and Netflix about Jordan and his career with the Chicago Bulls, may drum up new interest in the estate, which features more than 50,000 square feet of living space, a regulation-sized basketball gym, a 14-car garage, and seven acres of land.
Estimated value: $23 million
In October 2016, Jeff Bezos bought the former Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., for $23 million in cash, which was $1 million over asking price, according to the Washington Post. Bezos’s property in the Kalorama neighborhood spans two homes, for a combined total of 27,000 square feet. This property housed the Textile Museum for nearly 90 years until it moved to George Washington University in 2013. The two mansions, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, were previously sold together in 2015 for $19 million.
Estimated value: $59 million
Once the site of a Getty Oil gas station, this corner in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is now home to a luxury condominium building designed by architect Peter Marino. The penthouse, which includes about 10,000 square feet across the top three floors of the building, was purchased by billionaire investor Robert F. Smith for $59 million in 2018.
Estimated value: $88 million
Known for her privacy, Oprah doesn’t divulge many details about her sanctuary on the California coast, but she has shared with VERANDA the extensive rose garden she designed with master rosarian Dan Bifano. Oprah also worked with legendary designer Rose Tarlow to redecorate the 23,000-square-foot Georgian mansion.
Estimated value: $100 million
This 1927 Gothic Tudor Revival estate, once the residence of the late Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, features six bedrooms, six full baths, a tennis court and swimming pool, a four-bedroom guesthouse, and, of course, the legendary grotto. When the mansion was listed for $200 million in 2016, it was the most expensive house on the market in the U.S. at that time. It was originally designed by Arthur R. Kelly for Arthur J. Letts, Jr., son of The Broadway department store founder Arthur Letts.
Estimated value: $129 million
Owned by billionaire developer Jeffrey Greene, this Mediterranean-style estate has a whole lot to love about it, starting with spectacular views of Los Angeles and the surrounding canyons. Other sublime features include a hillside vineyard, manicured gardens and a waterfall, a Turkish spa, a DJ booth with a revolving dance floor and laser-light system, a 50-seat movie theater, and parking for 150 cars.
Estimated value: $131 million
It took Gates seven years—and $63 million—to build his 66,000-square-foot waterfront estate in the Seattle suburb of Medina. Not surprisingly, the home is packed with high-tech amenities, including a sensor system that regulates temperature and lighting, an underwater music system in the pool, and computer-screen-displayed artwork that can be changed with the click of a button. The mansion reportedly also boasts six kitchens and 24 bathrooms.
Estimated value: $150 million
Developer Bruce Makowsky thought of everything a billionaire might want at home with this 38,000-square-foot Bel Air mansion. In addition to the more traditional trappings of two primary bedrooms, 10 guest suites, 21 bathrooms, three kitchens, five bars, and even a massage room and wellness spa, the estate boasts more outrageous amenities like a helipad, infinity pool, candy wall, two wine cellars, four-lane bowling alley, and pop-up outdoor theater. Had it sold for its original listing price of $250 million, it would have been the most expensive home to sell in the U.S.
Estimated value: $160 million
It’s not easy to place a value on Trump’s resort-turned-residence in Palm Beach, but Forbes estimated its worth at $160 million in 2018. Trump purchased the estate, which was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post in the 1920s, for about $10 million in 1985. When Post died in 1973, she left the residence to the federal government to be used as a presidential and diplomatic retreat. Upkeep for the house proved expensive, however, and the government returned the property to the Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation in 1981; it sold Mar-a-Lago to Trump just four years later. Trump used it as a private residence until 1995 when he converted it into a private club. He has once again taken up residence there following his departure from the White House.
Estimated value: $165 million
Once the home of the late television producer Aaron Spelling, this 56,000-square-foot home boasts 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms and was once the largest home in Los Angeles County. The over-the-top style starts right at the front door with a 40-foot-high foyer designed after the O’Hara plantation, Tara, from Gone with the Wind. The estate counts a gym, a wine cellar and tasting room, a beauty salon with three stations, and massage and tanning rooms among its amenities.
Estimated value: $175 million
In 2020, Jeff Bezos purchased the Jack Warner Estate in Beverly Hills for $165 million from David Geffen, who bought the home in 1990 for a then-record purchase price of $47.5 million. The Georgian-style mansion was built in 1936 by Jack Warner, the head of Warner Brothers Studios, who lived there until his death in 1978. The purchase adds to the growing real estate portfolio of Bezos, who is considered to be the 24th largest landowner in the country.
Estimated value: $222 million
Owned by Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, the 55,000-square-foot, 19th-century mansion was originally built as two semidetached homes. After housing the Egyptian and Russian embassies for many years, the buildings were purchased by developer David Khalili, who merged the two into one downright palatial residence.
Estimated value: $238 million
Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin made history when he purchased the 24,000-square-foot penthouse in this Robert A.M. Stern Architects–designed skyscraper overlooking New York’s Central Park for $238 million, making it the most expensive home sold in the U.S. The 79-story tower is distinctive because of its color: The building is sheathed in Alabama Silver Shadow limestone. It’s also known for an array of luxurious amenities, which include a spa, an athletic club, private dining and entertaining facilities, and a private motor court.
Estimated value: $248 million
Ira Rennert’s giant limestone Italian Renaissance–style home sits on 63 acres of beachfront property in the Hamptons. The 62,000-square-foot mansion has 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, and an expansive 91-foot dining room. The property is also home to all kinds of luxury leisure spaces, such as a basketball court, a bowling alley, squash courts, tennis courts, three swimming pools, and a garage that can hold up to 100 cars.
Estimated value: $250 million
The late T. Boone Pickens’s 65,000-acre ranch boasts a lodge, a private airport, a pub, an 11,000-square-foot bird-dog kennel with room to house 40 dogs, a chapel, golf fairways and greens, and nearly 20 manmade lakes. The oil tycoon moved his childhood home from Oklahoma to the ranch in 2008.
Estimated value: $335 million
The 35,000-square-foot apartment at the top of the Tour Odéon, developed by Groupe Marzocco and designed by architect Alexandre Giraldi, spans several floors and comes with its own elevator. The private luxury doesn’t stop there: A waterslide from an upper floor into an infinity pool with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape makes this penthouse pretty spectacular.
Estimated value: $410 million
Built in 1830, then purchased in 1904 by Belgium’s King Leopold II, this mansion was considered to be the most expensive house on the market in the world when it went up for sale in 2017 for $410 million by Davide Campari-Milano S.p.A of the Campari Group. Set on 35 acres of manicured gardens and named for the cedar trees on the grounds, the 18,000-square-foot, 14-bedroom estate boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a large stable, and decadent interiors (think ginormous crystal chandeliers, intricate gilded woodwork, and 19th-century oil paintings) fit for the opulence of the home’s belle epoque heyday.
Estimated value: $420 million
Designed by Hungarian architect Antti Lovag and built between 1975 and 1989, the Bubble Palace features a series of round rooms that spills down a rocky cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. While Lovag was reportedly inspired by man’s earliest dwellings in caves, the seaside estate is not short on modern comforts, featuring three swimming pools, several gardens, and a 500-seat amphitheater on the hillside grounds. The Bubble Palace was last owned by the late French fashion designer Pierre Cardin as a holiday home and has been the setting for many a swanky event: In 2015, Dior showed its cruise collection at an indoor/outdoor fashion show at the sprawling estate.
Estimated value: $450 million
Built in the early 20th century, this Georgian Revival mansion is the second largest residence in London, clocking in at about 90,000 square feet. Witanhurst houses 65 rooms, including 25 bedrooms. The house has been used as a filming location for large- and small-screen productions, including The Lost Prince, Tipping the Velvet, and Fame Academy.
Estimated value: $750 million
Owned by Lily Safra, widow of Lebanese-born Brazilian banker Edmond Safra, this 11-bedroom, 14-bathroom estate is perched on 50 acres in France’s Alpes-Maritimes department of the Côte d’Azur region. The property features a commercial greenhouse, helipad, outdoor kitchen, and stunning pool and was the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch a Thief. Villa La Leopolda is named for its original owner: King Leopold II of Belgium, who gifted the estate to his mistress Blanche Zélia Joséphine Delacroix in the early 20th century. The home was redesigned by American architect Ogden Codman, Jr. in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Estimated value: $2 billion
Designed in consultation with Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins&Will and Santa Monica, California–based hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates for Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, this 400,000-square-foot residence in Mumbai’s Cumballa Hill neighborhood is 27 stories high. The tower, which can sustain a magnitude eight earthquake, features six floors devoted to car storage, a car service station, a temple, a 50-seat movie theater, and nine high-speed elevators.
Estimated value: $4.9 billion
With 775 rooms, including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, and 92 offices, the Queen of the United Kingdom’s London home still holds the top ranking for the most expensive house in the world. Although the British Crown’s trust owns many castles and estates throughout the United Kingdom, Buckingham Palace has been the monarchy’s official London residence since 1837. Queen Elizabeth II spends her annual summer holiday at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands.
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