Private helicopter pads, underground nightclubs, private onsite chapels and private zoos. The world’s most luxurious homes come appointed with some of the most lavish features one can possibly imagine, with imaginative and over-the-top décor, outrageous extravagances and onsite services including butlers, private concierges and personal equestrian instructors. They are a tribute to the whims of billionaires; with many set on wineries, lakes or mountaintops and each of them decked out to cater to the desires of any resident or guest privileged enough to spend time there. From palaces, to wine estates, to snow chalets, the richest homes on earth are a visual reminder of the disparity between the world’s rich and poor – a gap continuing to widen. One Oxfam report shows the world’s 62 richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population. But let’s not get caught up on the injustice of it all. Rather, let’s explore what truly makes a property dream-worthy and what sets the world’s best apart from the rest.
The world’s most expensive property should come as no surprise: it is Buckingham Palace, valued at around $2 billion. Built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, this beautifully built palace is today home to the Queen of England as well as the focal point of national celebrations and commemorations. With a whopping 775 rooms including 78 bathrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 19 state rooms and 52 royal guest rooms, Buckingham Palace is one residence that will never be put on the market – as per national building society policy. Perhaps it is the combination of its historic significance together with the ornate detail and opulent use of materials that lends to Buckingham’s reputation as the most desirable property on earth.
For just under a billion dollars less, Mumbai-based super-mansion ‘Antilia’ could actually be bought as a residential property. Labelled the “most outrageously expensive property in the world”, the 27-story, 400,000-square-foot skyscraper is reportedly priced at a range of 1-2 billion dollars – and it’s no wonder. The property includes six stories of underground parking capable of containing 168 cars, three helicopter pads, a private spa, Hindu temple, yoga studio, ice room containing mad-made snow, ballroom and reportedly a staff of 600 to keep it running. Its owner is India’s richest man; Managing Director and the largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited, Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani.
Returning to the United Kingdom, we then have the incredibly lavish estate known as Updown Court – a 103-room mansion with five swimming pools, a bowling alley, cinema and helipad set on 58 acres of landscaped gardens and private woodland. With an eight-limousine garage and mosaic floor made of 24-karat gold leaf in the downstairs study, the main house is a feat of opulence, consisting of four floors as well as a heated marble driveway at the entrance. This property really does have to be seen to be believed. It boasts a private baseball field, two tennis courts, a Grand Hall with a 30-foot stained glass dome, two grand staircases, a 37 foot by 30-foot kitchen, 10 satellite kitchens, a two-story wine cellar and a rock grotto with three separate spas behind an 80-foot waterfall. A rooftop infinity pool, snooker room, 50-seat cinema with private bar and beauty salon seal the deal. In 2005, Updown Court was touted the most expensive private home on the market anywhere in the world, having been listed on the market for in excess of £70 million.
It seems wrong to not yet have mentioned a U.S. property. Ira Rennert’s Fair Field compound is arguably the most coveted property in the country. Valued at just shy of $248 million, this extravagant estate boasts 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, a 164-seat screening theater, a standalone sports court, three swimming pools – even an onsite power plant to power it all. Set across 63 acres of gorgeous manicured lawns and gardens, the property is located in the village of Sagaponack, New York and has ocean views. In neighboring California, $200 million Ellison Estate consists of 10 beautifully appointed buildings set on 23 acres of land, featuring a man-made lake, tea house, bath house, horse farm, and Koi pond. It highlights Japanese design, particularly in the garden, and was built uniquely using no nails whatsoever – yet it is able to withstand an earthquake of over 7.0 in magnitude. Moving over to Beverly Hills, Mariah Carey’s extravagant property Fleur De Lys is among the world’s most expensive, with an asking price of $125 million. With 41,000 square feet of “pure diva luxury” and modeled after the Palace of Versailles, it’s not only the main building itself that has garnered the property its lavish reputation, but its surrounds too – rolling lawns, ornamental gardens and mature trees, a 3,000-square-foot manager’s house, staff quarters for 10 people, a spa and pool with a pavilion, a championship tennis court, and wonderfully manicured lawns. Fit for a Queen – or for Mariah, at least.
And the list goes on. You have Bill Gates’ 66,000-square-foot high-tech complex, Xanadu 2.0, which was assessed in 2012 at $120.5 million. Overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington, this extravagant mansion is noted for its design and technology features, namely an estate-wide server system, high-tech systems in every room that digitally display your choice of art on high definition television monitors, climate settings that are customized to every guest wearing a specialized pin upon entry into a room, and a 17-by-60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system. Need I go on?
Most people are happy with owning their own home debt-free and building a granny flat to add extra space and value to their property. Meanwhile, the world’s wealthiest inhabitants continue to take opulence to even greater levels, with over-the-top technologies, features and construction materials worth more than the average person’s house alone. Whatever will we see over the next five to 10 years, as technology and design continues to grow in weird and wonderful ways, I wonder?