Secret Real Estate Deals Grow Among Celebrities

June 8, 2011

Celebrities often want to get real estate transactions done in private, but in a celebrity obsessed country, that’s not always easy to do.

Real estate professionals who work with celebrities say they are often asked to sign confidentiality agreements when working with the stars on real estate deals. Some brokers also say they sometimes have to take their famous clients to show homes in the middle of the night just to help keep the secrecy of deals.

Some celebrities, particularly in Manhattan, are also starting to use the cover of trusts or limited liability companies to buy property anonymously, The New York Times reports. For example, actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently purchased an apartment in the West Village in New York City, reportedly used her dog’s name on the transaction paperwork for a $4.95 million penthouse. Aniston reportedly has a trust in her now-deceased dog’s name. The trust also paid an extra $2 million for a one-bedroom apartment one floor lower.

Frances Katzen, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, says her celebrity clients are often interested in buying real estate through an investment vehicle or at least want to explore the possibility. More Wall Street insiders, who are increasingly under scrutiny during economic hard times, more often are seeking ways to keep their multimillion-dollar real estate deals secret too.

Source: “Keep My Boldface Name Out of It,”The New York Times (June 3, 2011)