What today’s billionaires want in an ultra-luxury estate…
Not so long ago, US$100 million was the benchmark in ultra-luxury real estate, an extravagant figure reserved for a few massive properties beyond the reach of mere mortals: modern-day white elephants that nobody wanted even if they could afford them. Now, as the number of billionaires worldwide has ballooned — according to Forbes, there were 2,208 of them in 2018, up from 2,043 in 2017, representing an increase in total wealth of about US$1.4 trillion—that number has come to be much more common. The focus these days isn’t so much on the purchase price as what the money gets you.
As ever-evolving technology puts even the most fantastical features within the realm of possibility, we can all aspire to live like Tony Stark, or at least Mark Zuckerberg. This goes way beyond the oncevaunted “smart home” amenities that are now available to anyone with an iPhone. It’s not so much keeping up with the Joneses as keeping up with the Jetsons.
“It was only a few years ago that a US$100 million listing was in the stratosphere and almost unheard of,” Zackary Wright, an executive director at Christie’s International Real Estate who assists lots of high-networth clients, tells MAXIM. “Now, [some] homes are selling near or at this price point.” His firm’s most expensive property (as of this writing) is a house on Middle Gap Road in Hong Kong, known as one of the world’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. The asking price is just under US$447 million. It’s listed in the Greatest Estates section of the Christie’s website, where billionaires do their browsing. However, having been built in 1991, the house may be, for some, a teardown, presenting the perfect opportunity to construct something truly cutting-edge.
The result could resemble 924 Bel-Air Road, another Christie’s listing, in the legendary Los Angeles enclave of the same name, with an asking price of US$188 million. Described as famed luxury developer Bruce Makowsky’s “greatest masterpiece,” its 38,000 square feet of living space and over 17,000 square feet of exterior entertaining areas are designed to appeal to the world’s richest men, starting with 270-degree unobstructed views encompassing both the mountains and the ocean, with the iconic L.A. skyline in between.
The highlights: two enormous master suites, 10 oversize VIP guest suites, 21 luxuriously appointed bathrooms, three full gourmet kitchens, five bars, a massage studio and wellness spa, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, an 85-foot glass-tile infinity pool with a 12-seat swim-up bar, what Makowsky calls the largest swim-around Jacuzzi in California, a 40-seat 4K Dolby Atmos theater, a four-lane bowling alley and lounge, an automotive gallery complete with a car collection worth more than US$30 million, over 100 curated art installations,an outdoor pop-up theatre, two fully stocked Champagne and wine cellars, a massive US$200,000-plus candy wall, a helipad and the original Bell chopper, a seven-person full-time staff including a chef and masseuse with salaries paid for two years, and, of course, the “most advanced home tech system in the world,” allowing it all to be controlled via touchpads and voice commands.
Would you expect anything else at that price? “Today, our high-end clients want one-of-a-kind homes that feature a design others can’t simply buy or duplicate,” says Gregory Malin, CEO and founder of San Francisco–based luxury developer Troon Pacific. Want a retractable swimming pool that appears with just a “Hey, Siri”? Would you like that with or without an underwater sound system, sir? It will go perfectly with your “acoustically controlled nightclub that can also convert to a boardroom,” or with “your very own hidden car vault,” Malin notes. Or how about a specially constructed ventilated smoking room for sampling exotic strains of marijuana?
Nothing to worry about with state-of-the- art security systems in place, of the sort rarely seen outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and just as discreet. “Security is essential, and it is getting more sophisticated all the time,” Wright tells us. “The fine line is that homeowners want their families to be safe without feeling as if they are imprisoned” — i.e. security shouldn’t be seen or heard until the bad guys show up.
It’s not all about electronics and gadgetry, however, as racing driver Pablo Pérez Companc, son of one of Argentina’s wealthiest men, showed when he decided he wanted a limited-edition Pagani Zonda supercar — hanging on his wall. Companc, who already had two Paganis rumoured to cost about US$2 million each, originally approached automotive genius Horacio Pagani about buying an engine to display in his posh Miami condo. Pagani suggested that the billionaire’s son shell out for an entire car chassis instead, one constructed completely of carbon fibre and without an engine, that could be used as a room divider in this opulent pad.
The result, weighing 800 pounds, supported on a custom aluminum and carbon fibre stand, and estimated to have cost around US$1.5 million, is extremely badass — way cooler than any piece of art and completely one-of-a-kind. Bruce Makowsky and even Bruce Wayne must be envious. ■
By JARED PAUL STERN
For the full article grab the April 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.