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US billionaires' summer homes

July 26, 2005 06:51 IST

Billionaires can live anywhere they want. But they don't. They tend to live near other billionaires.

And, needless to say, in very, very nice places.

Carbon Beach in Malibu, Calif., is a perfect example. Along this exclusive stretch of beach can be found neighbors such as DreamWorks Animation founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, Mighty Morphin Power Ranger creator Haim Saban and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison (whose five properties here total a reported $65 million).

Courtney and David Cox-Arquette own a home here, and the beach's newest part-time resident is Jennifer Aniston, who just bought a property 20 houses away. While the former stars of NBC's Friends may not be billionaires themselves, they certainly up the glam factor of so-called 'Billionaire's Beach.'

Click here to see the billionaires' summer homes

"Real estate on Malibu is sold based on the amount of dry, sandy beach," explains Madison Hildebrand, a broker with the Malibu office of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, a division of Cendant.

"Carbon Beach has one of the sandiest, driest beaches anywhere." Hildebrand reports that one of the smallest single-family homes on the beach, just 1,640 square feet in size with a 69-foot lot, still managed to fetch $15 million from an undisclosed buyer two weeks ago.

Forbes.com has compiled a list of the summer vacation spots popular with many of the world's richest people and recommended a nearby hotel in each location, for non-homeowners. Across the list, one thing is clear: Lots of sandy beach has a massive impact on the price of a property.

"If it's beachfront property in the smart part of the Hamptons or Marbella, you are paying for location more than anything else," says Mayer Rus, design editor at House & Garden, whose annual 'Summer Homes' edition hits stands next month. "You can't quantify it, but beachfront property anywhere adds a big chunk to the cost of the house."

Joseph Horstmann, co-founder with his wife Nina of East Hampton-based Main Street Properties, agrees. "A property on Further Lane just sold last week for $90 million, breaking the record for the highest price for a residential piece of real estate in the country," Horstmann explains.

The purported buyer, rumored to be Swedish industrialist Robert Weil, might think he paid a fair price for the house and 40 acres of beachfront property, given that average price of land on the most desirable beachfronts in the area is around $2 million per acre.

Beachfront or not, one thing is clear. Whether designing and building a new summer house or purchasing and decorating an old one, "Bigger is the first rule," says Rus. "What constitutes a fully tricked-out summer house now is nothing another generation would recognize. The infinity-edge pool is yesterday's news. They need vast chef kitchens with four Sub-Zero refrigerators and commercial cook-tops, and home spas with beautiful yoga rooms, meditation rooms, massage rooms and hydrotherapy facilities."

Incredible summer getaways abound well beyond the shores of the Hamptons, of course. The luxurious houses Rus describes actually pale in comparison to Italian Prime Minister and press baron Silvio Berlusconi's 150-acre summer retreat, Villa Certosa, in which he reportedly built a Grecian-style marble amphitheatre for 400, an artificial lagoon surrounded by 2,000 species of cactus and a hidden cave entrance -- accessible only by sea -- which functions as an emergency underground escape route in case the island is ever attacked.

The entire property is equipped with surveillance technology to ensure the safety of the family and their high-profile guests. The attack paranoia may be merited--Berlusconi's constant construction on the island has enraged environmentalists, and Sardinian separatists invaded the property in March as part of a protest.

Of course, most billionaires own a few homes around the world, and these are used according to the time of year. Donald Trump, for example, owns Mar-a-Lago, the former home of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, in Palm Beach, which he has converted into a private club, and where he often stays during the winter months.

Michael Bloomberg owns homes in New York City, London and Tucker's Town, Bermuda, but tends to use his home in North Salem, N.Y., during the summer.

What follows is a random sampling of the areas where billionaires congregate during the summer months. Many of the destinations--the Hamptons, Nantucket--will be familiar, while others, such as Sardinia and British Columbia, are less well-known. What they have in common, of course, is the kind of beauty that doesn't come cheap.

Click here to see the billionaires' summer homes

Sophia Banay, Forbes