Category Archives: Luxury Homes

The Man Behind Billionaires’ Row Battles to Sell the World’s Tallest Condo

(The Wall Street Journal) Gary Barnett was sitting in his Manhattan office one morning in the fall when his old-fashioned flip phone started to buzz. On the line was a real-estate agent who was marketing the New York developer’s latest condo project, a soaring 1,550-foot tall building known as Central Park Tower. With a total projected sellout of more than $4 billion, the skyscraper is the country’s priciest-ever condominium project and, when complete, will be the tallest residential building in the world.

The agent had bad news. Mr. Barnett had…

Gary Barnett was sitting in his Manhattan office one morning in the fall when his old-fashioned flip phone started to buzz. On the line was a real-estate agent who was marketing the New York developer’s latest condo project, a soaring 1,550-foot tall building known as Central Park Tower. With a total projected sellout of more than $4 billion, the skyscraper is the country’s priciest-ever condominium project and, when complete, will be the tallest residential building in the world.

The agent had bad news. Mr. Barnett had agreed to reduce a condo’s asking price, but now the client refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement concealing the details of the deal. Mr. Barnett’s response: Turn him away. “If we’re going to give someone a special deal, we don’t want them saying it all over the market,” he said.

This is a harsh new reality for Mr. Barnett, who has made a fortune fulfilling the real-estate dreams of the world’s elite. The Extell Development Co. founder kicked off the U.S. condo boom with One57, the first of the supertall towers that line the 57th Street corridor now known as Billionaire’s Row. The building’s penthouse sold for $100.5 million in 2014 to tech mogul Michael Dell, the record high for New York City.

His success opened the door for other high-end towers across the city, permanently altering the Manhattan skyline. “The frenzy around One57 gave everyone the idea that this was a market that was ripe to be harvested,” said real-estate appraiser Jonathan Miller.

Central Park Tower is by some measures more audacious than anything that’s preceded it. The supertall skyscraper will feature panoramic views of the city and offer amenities like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a 1,000-foot-high private club and a basketball court. Of the building’s 179 units, no fewer than 18 are priced above $60 million.

Gary Barnett kicked off the U.S. condo boom with One57. Central Park Tower, shown in a rendering, is the company’s latest project on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row.

Mr. Barnett is marketing this super-luxury tower in a challenging climate: Manhattan home sales plunged by 14% in 2018, the steepest drop the industry has seen since the financial crisis in 2009, according to a report by brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Today, developers are slashing prices amid an oversupply of new luxury condos.

Some people wonder if Mr. Barnett will become a victim of the condo explosion he helped create. The great Manhattan condo boom “started with One57,” said Mr. Miller, “and it may end with Central Park Tower.”

Earlier this week, Mr. Barnett announced that he had hired Sush Torgalkar, formerly the chief operating officer of Westbrook Partners, as CEO to assist in managing the company’s growth. Mr. Barnett will stay on as the company’s chairman.

A self-described “poor boy from the Lower East Side,” Mr. Barnett grew up as Gershon Swiatycki, the son of a Talmudic scholar. His entry into the world of luxury goods came in 1980s, when he met his first wife Evelyn Muller, whose father owned a diamond business. Mr. Barnett traded precious stones in Belgium for over a decade before starting to invest in U.S. real estate.

Arriving at the sales office in a dark suit with black sneakers and a bold, flowered tie that he said is “probably 20 years old,” the 63-year-old developer is an unlikely purveyor of luxury homes. An observant Jew who largely eschews the flashy trappings of the industry, Mr. Barnett lived in Queens until moving recently with his wife and children to the heavily Orthodox suburb of Monsey, N.Y., about an hour’s drive north of the city. (He keeps a one-bedroom unit at One57 to make more time for work.)

Mr. Barnett’s refusal to give up the antiquated flip phone is a source of indulgent eye-rolling from colleagues. He often avoids computers, said a person who has worked with him; instead, his assistant prints out his emails and leaves them on his desk, where he annotates them in what one employee describes as “serial-killer scrawl” for staff to decipher.

He’s “a total nerd,” real-estate agent Nikki Field said affectionately. “He’s not a New York developer personality in any way.”

Other Manhattan developers thought Mr. Barnett was crazy when he started building One57 in 2010, the depths of the real-estate downturn. And after no major U.S. lenders would back him, he turned to the Middle East to obtain financing from two of Abu Dhabi’s wealthiest investment funds.

His gamble paid off handsomely. As One57 started sales, U.S. economic growth snapped back. As one of the few new luxury condo buildings on the market, One57 attracted billionaires from Russia, China and the Middle East. The condominium is the first ever New York City building to break the $100 million threshold for a single condo.

Central Park Tower faces a far more crowded field of competitors—including One57, where Extell still has units to sell. Approximately 3,763 new Manhattan condo units are in the pipeline for 2019, followed by an additional 4,539 in 2020, new development marketing firm Corcoran Sunshine said late last year. By contrast, in 2011 when One57 started sales, only 277 Manhattan new units launched.

Today, the builders of pricey mega-towers “are going to find themselves in a lot of trouble,” said Andrew Gerringer of the Marketing Directors, a development-marketing firm. “Those are just going to be really difficult to sell.”

But Mr. Barnett is pulling out all the stops. In a newly opened sales office at Central Park Tower, potential buyers sip Champagne and Johnnie Walker Black Label amid a onyx-clad walls and Lalique crystal chandelier. In a dimly lighted room with 14-foot ceilings, strains of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” fill the air as New York City landmarks are projected on the walls—Yankee Stadium, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building. “Is there any place that has symbolized individual success and collective ambition as boldly as New York?” booms the voiceover, describing Central Park Tower as “1,550 feet of steel, ambition and aspiration anchored to 40,000 square feet of Manhattan schist…a shimmering beacon of class, optimism and chutzpah.”

Central Park Tower has already overcome some hurdles. When real-estate company Vornado Realty Trust started planning a competing condo two blocks north, Mr. Barnett stalled the project by taking control of a parking garage on Vornado’s property in addition to other property and air rights it owned on the block. Then Mr. Barnett refused to let Vornado tear down the parking garage to make way for its tower. The dispute was eventually resolved in 2013 when Vornado agreed to pay Extell $194 million for development rights on the block. As part of the settlement, both developers agreed to move their towers slightly so they both could have Central Park views.

Lining up financing for Central Park Tower was also a challenge, since banks have pulled back from financing ultra-luxury condos amid worries of oversupply. Mr. Barnett cobbled together debt from a public offering on the Israeli bond market and tapped the EB-5 program, which grants green cards to foreigners who invest in the U.S. He also brought on SMI USA, the U.S. subsidiary of the real estate investment firm Shanghai Municipal Investment, as a co-developer. Ultimately, Mr. Barnett began construction on Central Park Tower using Extell’s own funds before securing the money to finish it, an unusual move on such a large project. He had built more than 10 stories before J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to provide a $900 million construction loan. Now he must sell $500 million in apartments at Central Park Tower by December 2020 and pay down $300 million of his loan to J.P. Morgan Chase by the following year, according to information disclosed to Israeli bond investors, who have money in the project. If he fails to meet those deadlines, the bank can increase his interest payments.

Extell has many units to sell in addition to Central Park Tower, including One Manhattan Square on the Lower East Side, which has roughly 800 units.

Of the 179 units in Central Park Tower, no fewer than 18 are priced above $60 million.Photo: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal

In an email to brokers last month, Extell advertised major incentives at its projects, saying it would pay three to five years of common charges on any Extell condo purchased before the end of 2018—at Central Park Tower, that could save the buyer of a full-floor apartment about $120,000 per year. That incentive wasn’t renewed for 2019, although Extell is still paying a 50% commission to brokers and says it will roll out new incentives soon. With buyers “saying they’ll wait a little bit and see if prices come down more,” Mr. Barnett explained, “we want to give them an incentive to act.”

He declined to say how many units he’s sold at Central Park Tower, noting only that traffic had been “decent” and that he isn’t concerned about missing financing deadlines. “We’re certainly going through a dip in the market, but we’re priced for that dip,” Mr. Barnett said confidently. In the current market, he added, “you’ve got to be a little more flexible on price.”

Extell is also leveraging the roster of billionaires it accumulated during One57’s glory days. But the strategy could backfire, especially as sellers who bought condos there a couple of years ago are suffering losses. In one instance, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll sold a One57 unit for $54 million, over $1 million less than what he paid in 2014. One57 has even seen a foreclosure, a rarity in New York’s high-end real estate. In 2017, an apartment that had been owned by shell companies linked to a Nigerian businessman sold in a foreclosure auction for $36 million, far less than the $50.9 million purchase price in 2014.

But these challenges seem to be part of the allure for Mr. Barnett, who said in comparison to his former business, he relishes the complexity of New York City real-estate deals. “These buildings are amazing buildings—they’re complicated, they’re fine-tuned,” he said. “Diamonds are a much simpler business.”

‘Billionaire’s Row’ Boom

Completed in 2015, One57 helped turn nondescript 57th Street into ‘Billionaire’s Row.’ Photo: Dorothy Hong for The Wall Street Journal

Since the emergence of ‘Billionaire’s Row’ in Manhattan, home values in the area have skyrocketed.

An analysis of sales data looked at transactions between 2010 to 2018 of homes from 57th to 59th streets between Park Avenue and Broadway. During that time, the median sale prices leapt 64.3%, from $1,261,406 in 2010 to $2,072,500 eight years later, according to Streeteasy.com. By comparison, the median home sale price across Manhattan rose 25.7%, from $835,000 to $1.05 million, during that same period.

Source: by Katherine Clarke and Candace Taylor | The Wall Street Journal

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US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Lists Park Ave. Apartment For $33 Million, Three Times What He Paid For It

No sooner did we report that the housing “recovery” over the last 10 years has skipped many “underwater” communities in the United States, than we found confirmation of the opposite: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is selling his Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan for three times the price that his aunt paid for it 18 years ago. He has listed the apartment for $32.5 million. His Aunt is listed as the broker on the sale.

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The sale is happening at the same time that residents of numerous commuter towns across the United States have seen the values of their houses collapse to less than half of what they were in 2006, prior to the housing crisis.

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Mnuchin recently listed the 6500 square-foot, 12 room apartment that he bought from his aunt in 2000. It was purchased then for just $10.5 million. It had been in his family since the 1960s and, when he turns around to list the property this time, he stands to net $22 million more than what he paid for it, if his asking price is met.

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The apartment is being listed by Warburg Realty and is located inside of 740 Park Ave., inside the historic Rosario Candela building. Other famous former tenants of this building include the Rockefellers and the Kochs. Currently, Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone Group, lives there. The building was developed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ grandfather.

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Other than that, it’s just your average ordinary run of the mill apartment on Park Avenue: five bedrooms, a wall wood paneled library, a wet bar, a formal dining room, a private elevator, 11 foot ceilings, marble floors and a sweeping spiraling staircase that still has its original banister.

The first floor of the apartment has six bathrooms and an 800 square-foot living room.

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Upstairs, the apartment has a master suite, walk-in cupboards, study, two more bathrooms and three extra bedrooms. The apartment spans two levels in the building on both the eighth and the ninth floor and it also has a large kitchen with a “breakfast nook”.

While that all seems extremely glamorous, Mnuchin hasn’t even used this apartment as his main residence, reportedly. Mnuchin was living in California before his appointment to the Trump administration, but has since bought a $12.6 million apartment in Washington DC.

We’re glad to hear that Mnuchin was able to ride out the housing crisis successfully. We were worried about him for a moment.

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Source: ZeroHedge

$1Billion Price Cut: Luxury real estate gets slashed

  • The high-end real-estate market has seen steep price cuts in recent months as foreign buyers dry up andnew tax laws kick in.
  • The Ziff family estate in Manalapan Florida cut its price in May by $27 million, from $165 million to $138 million.
  • Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, has had to lower his asking price on his beach home in Laguna Beach.

The most expensive real-estate in America just became a little less expensive — with $1 billion in price cuts among America’s top listings over the past few months, according to a CNBC analysis.

The high-end real-estate market has seen steep price cuts in recent months as foreign buyers dry up, new tax laws bite the wealthiest states and sellers realize the market peak of 2014-2015 isn’t coming back anytime soon, luxury brokers say.

According to RedFin, the real-estate brokerage and research firm, fully 12 percent of homes listed for $10 million or more saw a price drop in 2018 — double the levels of 2016 and 2015. Just over 500 listings in the U.S. had a combined price cut of $1 billion in the second quarter, according to RedFin.

“Prices were growing too fast for what buyers were willing to pay,” said Taylor Marr, a senior economist at RedFin.

Some of the price cuts have reached tens of millions of dollars, according to the listing. The Ziff family estate in Manalapan Florida cut its price in May by $27 million, from $165 million to $138 million. That follows a previous price cut, from $195 million last year — so it’s price has dropped by $57 million over the past year.

A 10-bedroom mansion on Miami Beach’s posh Star Island cut its price by $17 million in May, from $65 million to $48 million. A giant apartment at New York’s Sherry Netherland had its price cut by $18 million, falling from $86 million to $68 million.

The cuts follow a spate of even bigger cuts earlier this year. The $250 million mansion in Bel Air California known as “The Billionaire” became America’s most expensive listing when it came onto the market for $250 million in 2017. In April, the price was cut by a massive $62 million, to $188 million.

Brokers representing the house said that unique homes like “The Billionaire” – which comes with a $30 million car collection, a giant outdoor TV that retracts from behind the pool, and elevators lined with crocodile skin – said the home is just finding its true market price.

“There is no comp for a house like this,” said Shawn Elliott, one of the brokers for “The Billionaire.” So the new price reflects the price offered by a recent potential buyer.

A spec home in Beverly Hills, called Opus, was listed in August of 2017 for $100 million, but the price was cut to $85 million a month later. Now the home, which once had a gold theme, has been re-styled in black in hopes of finding a buyer.

The late Johnny Carson’s estate in Malibu, Ca. saw its price drop by $16 million, to $65 million from $81 million. The house is being sold by fashion magnate and film producer Sidney Kimmel.

Even homes that see big price cuts are selling for less than their discounted prices. A 20,000 square-foot mansion in the Hamptons, once owned by fashion mogul Vince Camuto, was first listed in 2008 for $100 million. Its price got chopped to $72 million, and it sold this spring for around $50 million – half of its original listing price.

Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, has had to lower his asking price on his beach home in Laguna Beach. The home was listed in 2017 for $11 million, but he has slashed the price to $7.9 million. He’s still likely to make a big profit – he bought the home in the early 1970s for $150,000.

The reasons for the price drops are many. In some cases, the prices for the homes were fantasies. Sellers had irrational expectations or they were using the sky-high prices to attract attention to their properties. The luxury real-estate market has fallen since its peak in 2014 and 2015, and many sellers are finally adjusting to a different market.

Supply of homes at the high end is also high, especially for newer condos and spec homes in New York, Los Angeles and major metro areas.

“There could be an over-supply of these high-end homes,” Marr said.

The new federal tax law, which limits deductions of state and local taxes, is also putting pressure on real-estate in high-tax states. And foreign buyers, who were driving some of the highest-priced sales in 2014 and 2015, have pulled back. A stronger dollar has also made U.S. real-estate more expensive.

It’s unclear whether the price cuts signal an upcoming crash in the luxury market. Prices could simply adjust without a severe correction. But the size of the cuts suggest that many luxury listings have yet to find their sale prices.

“Price cuts can be a great leading indicator and give a forward-looking view,” Marr said. “But it’s too early to tell where it’s headed.”

Source: by Robert Frank | CNBC

“Granite Islands And Backsplashes”: Even Singlewide Trailers Are No Longer “Affordable”

 

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Since the early 1900s, millions of Americans have relied on trailers as a source of no-frills, affordable housing.  In fact, roughly 22 million Americans live in trailer parks today, but the industry is hardly the stable source of affordable housing that it used to be…a lesson that 73-year-old Judy Goff of Naples, Florida recently discovered the hard way after Hurricane Irma ripped through her park and destroyed her home, along with roughly 1.8 million others.

As Bloomberg points out, when Goff went to a local LeeCorp dealer lot to replace her $46,000, 1,200 square foot trailer with something of similar size and value, what she found instead was “manufactured homes” stuffed with high-end upgrades like granite counter-tops and vaulted ceilings that rendered them too expensive for her $23,000 per year of income.

Last month, Judy Goff, a 73-year-old hardware store clerk whose double-wide in Naples, Fla., was blown to bits, pulled into a LeeCorp Homes Inc. sales lot and wandered through models with kitchen islands and vaulted ceilings. In the salesman’s office, she got the total price, including a carport, taxes, and removal of her destroyed trailer: $140,000. “I don’t have that kind of money,” said Goff as she stood amid the wreckage of her old home, whose walls and ceiling were stripped away, leaving her leather furniture and a lifetime of possessions to bake in the sun. “That was all I had.”

Goff—who just wants to replace the wrecked 1,200-square-foot trailer that she bought 17 years ago for $46,000, including the cost of land—says she feels boxed in. Her mobile-home community won’t allow single-wide homes or older used models as replacements. And every home must have a carport. She’s willing to give up such upgrades as the higher-end countertops, but that probably won’t be enough. Between her Social Security check and income from her job at Ace Hardware Corp., she earns only about $23,000 a year. “I just want a home that’s equal to what I had,” she says. “My home was a beauty.”

“I get that higher-end countertops and kitchen islands are where the better margins are, but that’s also going to put homes out of reach for a lot of buyers,” says Doug Ryan, director of affordable homeownership at the Washington nonprofit Prosperity Now. “The storm is revealing a whole lot of problems in the low-cost housing market.”

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Meanwhile, as we note frequently, while the cost of manufactured homes has surged, the pay for the bottom fifth of American wage earners has been somewhat stagnant for nearly two decades now. Even after a modest uptick recently, the bottom 20% of households have seen their income fall 9% since 2000, in real terms.

But, as low-income households have found it increasingly difficult to rebuild after devastating hurricanes, the surge in manufacturing home pricing has been a boon for billionaire Warren Buffett who made a big financial bet on the largest manufactured housing builder, Clayton Homes, back in 2003.

The industry, led by Warren Buffett’s Clayton Homes Inc., is peddling such pricey interior-designer touches as breakfast bars and his-and-her bathroom sinks. These extras, plus manufacturers’ increased costs for labor and materials, have pushed average prices for new double-wides up more than 20 percent in five years, putting them out of reach for many of the newly homeless.

Phil Lee, the 74-year-old founder of LeeCorp, has been riding a wave of retiring baby boomers who want affordable luxury. Driving a reporter in his black BMW SUV through Bayside Estates in Fort Myers Beach, where many of the fanciest homes he sells are installed, Lee points out units with pitched roofs that look almost indistinguishable from conventional homes, facing canals with boats tied outside. Their owners, former dentists, doctors, executives, and others, spent upwards of $150,000 to buy aging units just to clear the way for something more luxurious. On a palm-lined street flanked by ranks of 1970s-era trailers, Lee sees profit. “There’s no end to replacing these homes,” he says. “You get a hurricane in there and it really accelerates things.”

Terms such as “mobile home” or “trailer” are now verboten in an industry striving to break free of its downscale origins. Buffett’s Clayton Homes, which produces almost half of all new manufactured housing in the U.S. and competes with such companies as Cavco Industries Inc. and Champion Home Builders Inc., still builds lower-priced units, but there’s barely a sign of them on its website, which is mostly devoted to high-price models. The 2,000-square-foot Bordeaux features a separate tub and shower, a computer station, and a mud room, with prices starting at $121,000 and ranging as high as $238,000, not including delivery and installation costs. Clayton declined to comment.

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Of course, while mobile homes are becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive for low-income families in Florida and Texas, Silicon Valley’s future tech billionaires can’t seem to get enough of them.

Source: ZeroHedge

Pabst Mansion in Illinois Gets Another Price Cut

Sold in 1999 for $6.95 million the 14,000-square-foot home is now on the market for $3.9 million

It isn’t often that a historic estate with 21st-century features, finishes and amenities is available at a 20th century price, and yet that’s exactly what is on offer at the Pabst Mansion on Sheridan Road in Glencoe, Illinois.

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Sited on 2.2 acres, the 14,000-square-foot house was built in 1936 by architect Willian Pereira.

On the market for two years, the price was just reduced to $3.9 million, nearly $3 million less than what it sold for in 1999 at $6.95 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. The current owner, who bought the home in 2014, originally listed it for $6.3 million in June 2015. In May 2016 the asking price was lowered to $4.95 million and since then, has reduced the price several times before this latest drop.

Crain’s Chicago Business first reported the price reduction, noting how the house’s sale price has decreased from the 1999 price tag, in each of the mansion’s subsequent sales. It sold for $5.2 million in 2009 and $4.8 million in 2014, when it was bought by the current owner, an insurance executive, according to the public records.

Sited on 2.2 acres, the 14,000-square-foot house was built in 1936 by architect Willian Pereira, who became famous in later years for his work in California, including the Los Angeles International Airport’s space-age control tower and the Transamerica pyramid in San Francisco. The house is known as the Pabst Mansion because of its first owner, Harris Perlstein, who ran Milwaukee’s Pabst Brewing Co. after the merger with his company Premier Malt Products.

On the inside, the house’s details and amenities are extensive. There is a large oval dining room, a paneled library, a bar and entertainment room, a game room, an exercise room, and a party-sized screening room, according to the listing agent. Situated at the end of a long gated driveway, the grounds include a pool with water slide, a half basketball court and a hedge shaped like a maze.

“The new price is an extraordinary value,” said Coldwell Banker listing agent Wendy Friedlich.

| Mansion Global

This is What the Most Expensive House in the United States Looks Like

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In Bel Air, California, ultra-luxury home developer Bruce Makowsky has unveiled his most ambitious project yet, 924 Bel Air Road. Listed at US$250 million it is the most expensive home ever listed in the United States.

To attract the clientele Makowsky is targeting, he is selling more than just a home he is selling a lifestyle. Whoever buys 924 Bel Air not only gets the home, but a full-time, 7-person staff for 2 years, a US$30 million car collection and all of the artwork, wine, furnishings and extras you can imagine.

Below you will find a gallery of this insane property along with a video tour and a list of some of the most unbelievable highlights and inclusions. For more information visit 924belair.com.

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– List price: US$250 million (previous US record $195 million mansion in Manalapan, Florida)
– 38,000 sq. ft. over 4 floors with 2 commercial elevators lined in alligator skin and handcrafted, polished steel staircase
– 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms, 3 kitchens, 6 bars, massage and spa room, fitness center, bowling alley
– 2 wine and champagne cellars, 85 ft Infinity pool, 40-person home theatre, 18×12 ft retractable outdoor tv screen
– Includes $US 30 million car collection, all artworks, wine and champagne collection, helicopter, boat
– Comes with 7 pre-paid, full-time staff including chef, chauffeur and masseuse for two years.

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In an interview with CNBC, Makowsky likens the home more to a mega yacht than a house, stating:

Megayachts have gone from 150 feet to 300 feet or more and they can cost up to $500 million,” he said. “People spend two weeks a year on a yacht, but they live in a house. I wanted this to be the ultimate megayacht, but on land.” [source]

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According to CNBC, the “auto gallery” features some of the rarest, fastest and most expensive cars in the world and come with the home. The collection includes a one-of-a-kind Pagani Huayra ($2 million+); the famous “Von Krieger” 1936 Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster($15 million+); and 10 of the rarest and fastest motorcycles ever built.

The most expensive home ever sold globally is believed to be a US$221 million penthouse in London, England. Globally, there are homes listed for more than US$300 million but none in the U.S. tops Makowsky’s US$250 million listing. [source]

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Source: Twisted Sifter