Billionaires Favor 'Trophy' Properties

June 21, 2011

When it comes to real estate, billionaires spare no expense. (An exception being Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, whose recent $7 million Palos Alto purchase is modest by most billionaires' standards).

For many billionaires, buying mega mansions is the norm and outfitting these lavish estates with fancy upgrades, everything from wine cellars and museums to even its own on-site power plants.

“A lot of people will buy a $30 million ocean front mansion, tear it down, and start all over again,” says Alan Fiocchi, founder of AlchemyRED, a company that project manages extensive remodeling of multi-million dollar estates.

For example, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper tore down the $43.5 million Sagaponack home he purchased last year and plans to build a house double the size on the now empty lot.

In 2004, real estate mogul Donald Trump spent more than $40 million on an oceanfront estate in Palm Beach, Fla., adding gold and diamond fixtures and a 50-car garage to upgrade the property to his liking.

Industrial billionaire Ira Rennert’s $200 million home in Sagaponack, N.Y., is considered one of the nation’s largest single-family homes at 43,031 square feet. The estate features 29 bedrooms and 39 bathrooms, three dining rooms, three swimming pools in a row, a 164-seat screening theater, and even an on-premise power plant.

And Russian venture capital billionaire Yuri Milner recently made headlines earlier this year when he purchased a 25,000-square foot second-home estate in Silicon Valley for $100 million--the highest known price ever paid for a single-family home in the U.S. The estate features indoor and outdoor pools, a ballroom, tennis courts, and a wine cellar.

“When I think of a trophy property selling or something unusual entering the market that gets a lot of attention it … actually pulls more inventory out onto the market … and other properties that may be considered competing in this price point come out of the woodwork because the selling of them is optional,” says Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel Inc, a New York City-based real estate appraisal company.

View a slideshow at Forbes.com of some of these billionaire mansions.

Source: “Be it Ever so Not Humble: Billionaires’ Mansions,”Forbes (June 19, 2011)