Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, 26, may have recently shelled out $7 million for a Palo Alto home, but when it comes to billionaire real estate, that purchase is downright thrifty. Many of the world’s richest people spare no expense when it comes to home sweet home, throwing down tens and hundreds of millions of dollars on mega mansions designed to suit every possible fancy.
Take industrial billionaire Ira Rennert’s 43,031 square-foot Fair Field estate in Sagaponack, New York. Valued at $200 million according to tax assessments, the sprawling 29 bedroom, 39 bath manse is one of America’s largest single-family homes — and arguably the most expensive. Amenities include not one but three dining rooms, three swimming pools sitting side by side, two courtyards, an orangery, a 164-seat screening theater and a pavilion housing a basketball court, a gym, and a 2-lane bowling alley. There’s even an on-premise power plant to keep everything running. In April, rumors that Rennert was building a private museum to showcase his massive art collection surfaced when the town of Sagaponack issued a stop-work order on new construction that had been started without the proper permits.
On the opposite coast, Russian venture capital billionaire Yuri Milner recently forked over $100 million for a 25,000-square foot, French chateau-inspired mansion in Silicon Valley. The Palo Alto estate touts indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a ballroom and a wine cellar. If Rennert’s Fair Field estate could be the most expensive home in the country, Milner’s is its direct competition for that title. The Facebook and Groupon investor, who calls Moscow, Russia home, bought the place as a secondary property.
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Many billionaire homeowners don’t move into their new digs right away. Once they’ve closed, which usually occurs through a third party LLC to keep the sale as private as possible, it’s time to retrofit the property for their lavish lifestyles, remodeling or in some cases, tearing down and rebuilding a brand new mansion altogether. This is a common occurrence in the ritzy Long Island, New York zip codes that make up the Hamptons, where billionaire investor Ron Baron dropped $103 million on 40 acres of beachfront land sans a house. In the most recent and extreme example, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper just knocked down the $43.5 million Sagaponack home he bought last year; he reportedly plans to build a house that’s twice as large on the empty site.
“A lot of people will buy a $30 million ocean front mansion, tear it down, and start all over again,” explains Alan Fiocchi, founder of AlchemyRED, a company that project manages the ground-up construction or intensive remodeling of multi-million dollar estates around the world. Fiocchi, who works on properties averaging $25 million with a typical renovation budget of $10 million, acts as owner’s representation for many billionaire clients, including many of Wall Street’s high profile finance gurus, one non-American Head of State and members of royal families.
Billionaires like their privacy. Fiocchi, who must sign non-disclosure agreements to take on a job, says it is common for clients to shell out money for technology that ensures safety. “We’ve done full security in terms of bullet-proof glass on all the windows,” says Fiocchi. “We’ve even had clients who were extremely paranoid about air quality, so we engaged engineers from Germany to make sure they had the highest air quality known to man circulating through their residences.”
The world’s richest spend millions on the finish work, especially stonework and millwork. Take the Maison de L’Amitie estate in Palm Beach, Florida that real estate mogul-tu
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