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Take a moment to step away from your sun-drenched breakfast nook with wrap-around panoramic windows. Fling open those double French doors and take a stroll along your tri-tier deck.
Breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Look down and gaze upon your own personal vineyard. The grapes are doing well this year! You should be right on schedule to unveil your 2014 zinfandel at the wine club's tasting later this year.
Life is good.
No, life is great! Life couldn't be better.
Well, maybe it would be a little better if the contractor would get back to you on his quote to add that helipad on your roof. The commute has been murder from your new lavish mountaintop estate.
And what's the deal with your neighbor? The enclosed tennis court he's putting in looks a little too close to your grape vines. Those grapes need that afternoon sun! What is he thinking?!
Money can buy a great many things, but those with extreme wealth have their stressors too. As an average person, it's easy to sit back and gawk at some of the world's largest private palaces. However, these estates do change hands. This means the owners have found a reason good enough to leave their custom-built paradise.
There is still a market for high-ticket luxury real estate, even in Obama's America. Sure, some of the asking prices aren't rooted in reality, but the concept of value becomes increasingly imprecise when a home has three helipads.
Let's take a stroll through some of the most notable examples from recent years.
- Asking Price: $130 Million
- Location: Windlesham, Surrey, England
- Sale Price: $55 Million
Any time a private residence has a proper name, you know you're dealing with a wildly expensive estate. Updown Court is the self-described "most important private residence to be built in England since the 19th century."
Although, The Sunday Times gave this place another nickname: Tacky Towers. The News Corp. owned paper considers this estate "a monument to bad taste."
The 50,000-square-foot estate's amenities include 103 rooms, 24 of those are bedrooms and 35 bathrooms, a $4 million heated driveway, a two-lane bowling alley, a movie theater, an eight-car garage, five pools, indoor squash court, escape tunnels, panic room, a helipad, two penthouses, and 58 acres of land.
The annual maintenance of this opulent compound is projected to be around $2 million and requires a minimum of 12 full-time staff members.
On paper this mansion seems like it would fulfill nearly anyone's dream list of features, but the asking price of $130 million never attracted a buyer. Ultimately this place got sold in 2011, after six years of bouncing around the market, for a paltry $55 million, less than half the asking price. It was purchased by an undisclosed Indian businessman.
Here's what happened.
Leslie Allen-Vercoe had such grand plans for this estate in Windlesham. He bought the property for £13 million ($20.8 million), and then sunk an additional £30 million ($48 million) renovating the estate. Designing a home that was, as he thought, "fit for billionaires, as opposed to millionaires."
Add in a couple extra bucks to create a classy YouTube video to promote the facilities as "the finest residence available in England."
After the two years of construction was complete, the massive residence sat on the market for six years.
Ultimately, the global recession toppled the bank lending Allen-Vercoe the money for his passion project. The estate fell into receivership after Allen-Vercoe defaulted on his loan and was seized by Ireland's National Asset Management Agency. This was a bitter and all too common end for such a grand, opulent estate.
- Asking Price: $150 Million
- Location: Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, CA
- Sale Price: $85 Million in cash, upfront
It seems rather fitting for the creator of 90210 to have built the largest private residence in all of Los Angeles County.
The Manor is a remarkable sight that devours the land that once held Bing Crosby's estate. Constructed in 1988 for TV mogul and all-around great guy Aaron Spelling, this residence sprawls over 4.6 acres of prime Los Angeles real estate.
Since Spelling's passing, Aaron's widow Candy put the property on the market with the asking price of $150 million. The home was sold to Petra Ecclestone, daughter of the president and CEO of Formula One Management, Bernie Ecclestone.
Petra purchased the residence for a cool $85 million, reportedly paying cash upfront for the property. And before we all get in a tizzy about the haves and have-nots, and how a 22-year-old was able to scrounge together that kind of cash, rest easy, she borrowed $82.4 million of that from her mom.
So, she only had to come up with $2.6 million herself. A paltry sum that each of us surely has buried between the cushions of our couches. Provided those couches are made of endangered condor skin.
At 56,000 square feet, The Manor boasts 123 rooms. Three of those rooms are reserved solely for gift wrapping, one dedicated to silver storage, and one specifically designed for the fine art of flower cutting. There is parking for over 100 vehicles, a screening room, swimming pool, tennis court, bowling alley, gym, 16 carports, four two-car garages, and a partridge in a pear tree.
When it was built, The Manor was panned as exactly what was wrong with America. Los Angeles Times architecture critic Sam Hall Kaplan seethed with objectively justified anger towards what he viewed as "a sad commentary on the distorted values that have taken the architectural form of monster mansions at a time when tens of thousands of persons are homeless."
Fleur De Lys
- Asking Price: $125 Million
- Location: Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Another Holmby Hills estate sprawling over five acres includes a 45,000-square-foot French limestone manor. This estate boasts 12 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a ballroom, gym, 50-seat theater, pool house, 1,200 meter running track, tennis court, a guest house as well as private quarters designed to comfortably accommodate up to ten live-in employees.
The original owner David I. Saperstein commissioned architect Richardson Robertson III to build this estate in 1996. The build was complete in 2002 which left just two short years to enjoy this residence before Saperstein divorced his wife Suzanne, leaving her with the keys to this opulent manor.
Suzanne listed the property on the market in 2006 for a meager $125 million. Included in that price is 24-carat gold trim of nearly every ceiling and doorway, as well as a two-story dark mahogany library. Not included in the sale were some of their more notable home furnishings, including a chair once owned by Napoleon, Marie Antoinette's fire screen, and a side table from the palace Versailles. According to HGTV, the Sapersteins outbid the Louvre for some of the pieces furnishing this gorgeous home.
Ms. Saperstein has been resistant to dropping the price in the eight years this behemoth has been on the market. But, all hope is not lost. It seems Tamara Ecclestone, sister of Petra who famously purchased The Manor for a cool $85 million in cash, is rumored to be eyeing the Fleur De Lys property.
She is expected to rent the estate during the production of her eight-episode reality miniseries that will document her move to Los Angeles.
For those interested, here's a teaser for her upcoming show Tamara Ecclestone: Billion $$ Girl.
The amount of rent due each month hasn't been disclosed, but considering a nearby and considerably smaller estate, The Beverly House goes for $600,000 a month, one can assume Ms. Ecclestone may be paying north of a million each and every month she's there.
The Beverly House
- Asking Price: $165 Million
- Location: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA, USA
- Rent: $600,000
It would be impossible to create a list of opulent estates without including the name William Randolph Hearst. Smaller in stature than Hearst's own castle up in San Simeon, this home sits atop a massive 3.7 acres of coveted Beverly Hills land.
The Beverly House was purchased for Hearst by his mistress, actress Marion Davies, in 1946 for only $120,000. Adjusting for inflation that amount creeps up to just about $1.4 million in 2013 dollars.
The estate boasts all the essential necessities to sustain life. It includes 28 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a night club, a two-story library, a gym and spa, lighted tennis court, media center, and a guest house that sits above an eight-car garage. The Beverly House also crushes the record for the city's longest private concrete driveway, measuring half a mile long.
And wouldn't you know it? There's a YouTube video showing the majesty of that really long driveway!
Hearst's private life received equal parts scorn and scrutiny. Refer to that indie art-house movie Citizen Kane for further studies on Hearst the man. The Beverly House is where Hearst spent much of his later years in life, ultimately passing at the residence on August 14, 1951.
It's been rumored that John and Jackie Kennedy spent a portion of their honeymoon at this estate in the late summer of 1953. This was also reportedly used as the West Coast headquarters for the Kennedy Presidential Campaign in 1960.
The opulence of this estate can be seen in countless classic movies including The Godfather, The Bodyguard, The Jerk, and it has even graced an episode of Charlie's Angles. The fantastic blog iamnotastalker.com created a huge compendium of screenshots of The Beverly House on the silver screen.
When an estate carries such a storied past, just the simple act of the owners reducing the asking price ends up making national news.
While the price was slashed from $165 Million to $95 Million after many years on the market, the owners have resorted to also opening up the property to renters. The owners are asking for a downright reasonable $600,000 per month.
Hopefully that rent includes utilities because flushing 40 toilets doesn't come cheap. Now any slob that passes a credit check and has a little over half a million in his pocket could rent this important landmark in American history. For a month.
Antilla in Mumbai
- Build Price: Over $1 Billion
- Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
- Currently Not On The Market
Clocking in at over $1 Billion and looking like a haphazard stack of books resting upon the hazy city of Mumbai is the most expensive private residence in the known world.
This mammoth structure is owned and paid for by Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries in Mumbai. Designed by the Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins + Will, the Antilla requires a staff of no less than 600 to maintain this property.
Constructed over two years and standing a staggering 27 stories high (570 feet), this 400,000 square foot love-letter to modern design has parked itself on one of the most affluent streets in the entire world: Altamount Road, Cumballa Hill.
The first six floors of the structure are reserved for parking. A whopping 168 vehicles can fit comfortably here. Also, if you and two friends prefer to arrive by air, in separate helicopters, at the exact same time, you're in luck! The Antilla comes equipped with three helipads on the roof.
The amenities read more like a lavish hotel than a private residence. This property includes the standard checklist of a ballroom where 80% of the ceiling is covered in a custom crystal chandelier, a 50-seat theater, a pool, gym, spa, terrace gardens and its own temple.
It may seem in poor taste to build such a majestic structure in a country where the average citizen lives on less than $2 a day. But, it is important to note that Ambani's wife, Nita, has dedicated much of her time to charitable efforts. Vanity Fair created an exhaustive list of Nita's efforts that includes:
"[An] international preparatory school, a Premier League cricket team, the nation's first Braille newspaper in Hindi, and a 400-acre model township that houses 12,000 people and stands adjacent to the world's largest oil refinery. A 400-bed hospital wing is under construction and plans are proceeding for a world-class university on 1,000 acres of property."
Perhaps the grandest recent example of schadenfreude, The Ambani family has refused to move in to their lavish residence. Citing the building conflicts with vastu shastra, which is essentially the Hindu equivalent of Feng Shui. It's been noted that concern is there aren't enough eastern facing windows to let in the rising sun's light.
This is not to say that the building isn't being utilized. The theater regularly presents film screenings, and the grand ballroom regularly hosts dinners. However, the Ambani family has reportedly never spent the night in their $1 Billion home.
After reading something like this, it's easy to daydream about what we might have done differently to achieve the kind of income that might afford us the luxury of calling one of these opulent palaces home. But remember the ancient Egyptian proverb "Mo money, mo problems." It's safe to say that most would rather take a cozy and happy home over a gigantic and miserable home any day of the week.
Think about those two years at Fleur De Lys when the Sapersteins were teetering on the edge of divorce. No amount of bedrooms or pools could save that failing marriage, despite their best efforts to prove otherwise.
No matter the size of your personal kingdom. From a small two-bedroom fixer upper, to the properties where swimming pools outnumber the occupants, eMortgageRates may be able to help connect you with a licensed lender when the time comes to find that palace of your own.
Let us know in the comments what you'd love to have in your dream estate. Maybe a bowling alley? Private roller rink? How many helipads does your dream house have? Let us know!