There are many reasons the de Guigne estate in Hillsborough, Calif., could be called a trophy property. For starters the 16,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion was constructed a century ago and has remained within the same family since. Located at the end of a 4,500-foot driveway, the historic home has a grand ballroom, a flower arranging room and staff quarters that include two chauffeurs’ rooms. But the property’s most unique feature isn’t the home itself – it’s the land.
The estate encompasses 47 prime acres 20 minutes south of San Francisco, halfway between the city and Silicon Valley. “This is the first time since this land was acquired 150 years ago by the de Guigne family that such a large amount of land in such a desirable location is coming to market,” says Gregg Lynn, a Sotheby’s International Realty agent co-listing the property with colleague Bernadette Lamothe. “In the town of Hillsborough all of its large estates have been subdivided over the last 50 years and this estate remains one of the only two [of this size] left.”
The sizeable acreage is the main driver behind the listing’s lofty price tag: $100 million. That princely sum makes the de Guigne estate one of the most expensive homes for sale in the U.S.
To compile our annual list of America’s most expensive homes for sale, we sorted through listings on Realtor.com, Trulia TRLA -0.13%.com, Sotheby’s International Realty, Christie’s International Real Estate (and its affiliates), Coldwell Banker Previews International (and its affiliates), The Agency, and others. And, since some ultra-expensive homes never officially hit the market, with their owners choosing to shop quietly for wealthy buyers through well-connected brokers, we included pocket listings that could be confirmed. The resulting list encompasses more than 30 homes, all priced $60 million and up.
While real estate across the U.S. slowly recovers from the collapse of the housing bubble, the super luxury market is currently rivaling, and in some cases even trumping, bubble-era prices. Thanks to a handful of recent record purchases – including a November $117.5 million Silicon Valley sale – an increasing number of high-end home owners are attaching ambitious nine-figure price tags to their digs.
Like the de Guigne estate. There are other properties on the market in the $100 million range, but this home comes with an unusual condition attached: the owner, Christian de Guigne IV, 75, is requiring that the buyer allow him to inhabit the premises until his death. Nonetheless, there’s plenty of interest, according to Lynn, particularly from wealthy foreigners looking for a hard asset in which to park their cash. The Era Of The $100 Million House Morgan Brennan Morgan Brennan Forbes Staff Inside America’s Billionaire Housing Boom Morgan Brennan Morgan Brennan Forbes Staff Brokedown Palaces: Mega Mansions That Have Faced Foreclosure And Bankruptcy Morgan Brennan Morgan Brennan Forbes Staff Manhattan’s Now Home To America’s Most Expensive Zip Code Morgan Brennan Morgan Brennan Forbes Staff
On the East Coast another similarly enviable slice of land is listed for an even larger sum. Copper Beech Farm encompasses 50 exclusive waterfront acres in Greenwich, Conn., a tony Wall Street-centric suburb of New York City. At $190 million, it is far and away the most expensive home for sale in America.
“There’s nothing like this and the second-to-last one that existed, on about the same acreage, sold in 1952,” listing agent David Ogilvy of David Ogilvy & Associates, a luxury Greenwich realty firm affiliated with Christie’s International Real Estate, told FORBES in May.
For that staggering sum, the buyer gets an 1890s French renaissance-style mansion encompassing 13,519 square feet that includes 12 bedrooms, seven full baths and two half baths, a wood-paneled library, an ornate dining room with a tracery ceiling and oak columns, a solarium, a wine cellar, a third-floor staff wing, and a three-story, wood-paneled entry foyer. The grounds, which include two islands in Long Island Sound, boast a clock tower-bedecked carriage house, a guardhouse, formal gardens, multiple greenhouses, an apple orchard, a grass tennis court and a 14-sided swimming pool with an accompanying octagonal pool house.
Ogilvy says he calculated the $190 million asking price off of numerous comparables (of which none are even remotely as large), having crunched the average sales prices per acre for close to a dozen nearby properties.
New York City has about two dozen available homes priced $30 million or higher, according to Jonathan Miller, chief executive of New York-based real estate appraiser Miller Samuel. Nine make our list, including the penthouse atop the Hotel Pierre. Located on the south side of Manhattan’s Central Park, it’s listed for $125 million, tying it for fourth most expensive home in the country (alongside Los Angeles’ $125 million Fleur de Lys).
The Pierre penthouse spans 12,000 square feet across three floors that tout five bedrooms, six full baths, staff quarters, a marble staircase, a private interior elevator, a 3,500-square-foot ballroom-turned-grand salon and sweeping 360-degree views of Central Park and the surrounding city. The unit boasts access to hotel amenities like room service as well – for a hefty monthly maintenance fee of $42,720, or an annual expense of $512,640.
The co-op apartment first graced the sale block in 2004 with a $70 million price tag. After a wealthy buyer capable of passing the building’s infamously exclusive co-op board failed to materialize, the home, owned by finance maven Martin Zweig, was quietly delisted. After Zweig passed away in February, it came back on the market – at nearly 80% more.
The Big Apple AAPL -0.12%’s super luxury market has diverged from city’s general real estate trends, notes Miller. Several unprecedented sales including a $88 million penthouse in 15 Central Park West and two penthouses in up-and-coming One57 in contract for $90 million-plus apiece have propelled some owners to optimistically list their abodes with lofty price tags in the hopes of securing similarly deep-pocketed buyers.
Among the most expensive: hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen’s $115 million Bloomberg Tower duplex, a 9,000-square-foot condo designed by architect Charles Gwathmey; real estate developer Steven Klar’s $100 million CitySpire penthouse, an octagonal-shaped 8,000-square-foot condo now offered as a For Sale By Owner listing after it failed to find a buyer while listed more traditionally via luxury brokers; and a $95 million Sherry Netherland full-floor co-op, a 15-room flat touting a solarium, separate staff quarters on separate floors and a $54,000-per-month maintenance fee that includes daily housekeeping, turn-down service and room service from posh restaurant Cipriani’s.
Six Los Angeles County abodes grace our list, the majority located within the coveted Platinum Triangle of Holmby Hills, Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Fleur de Lys, socialite Suzanne Saperstein’s Holmby Hills mega mansion, is perhaps the best known thanks to a steadfast asking price of $125 million — despite bouncing on and off the market for six years.
Compared to that, the Carolwood Estate, located directly across the street, seems like a relative bargain at $90 million. Known best as Walt Disney DIS +1.24%’s former family home, the compound occupies four gated acres that include a 35,000-square foot mansion built in 2001, a pool with accompanying pool house, a tennis court, a putting green, a wine cellar and best of all, remnants of Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Railroad, the one-eighth-scale backyard train said to have inspired Disneyland.
Other opulent abodes include the nearby Beverly House, the former Beverly Hills estate of William Randolph Hearst , which can be purchased for $115 million (or rented for a stunning $600,000 per month) after the owner hiked its original $95 million price tag, and Dallas, Texas’ Crespi-Hicks Estate, a 25-acre Mayflower Estates compound also listed sans MLS, with an asking price of $135 million.
Several homes that have graced our list in years past remain on the market, albeit with price chops. The most notable perhaps is Casa Casuarina in Miami. The South Beach home-turned-boutique hotel, better known as the Versace Mansion due to its tragic history as the former residence of the late fashion designer, first came to market in 2012 for $125 million. Several pending foreclosure-related lawsuits later, the manse has undergone two reductions and currently is on the block for $75 million.