The five most expensive US house deals above $100 million

The five most expensive US house deals above $100 million
The five most expensive US house deals above $100 million

Just in the past few weeks there has been a rapid turnover in prestige homes holding the mantle of the USA's most expensive residential property.

The latest was over the weekend when The New York Post reported the reputed US$147 million million sale of an 18-acre East Cox Architecture.

Property Observer lists the top five house sales with their nine figure prices. And throws in those that just fell short.

  1. The East Hampton beachfront estate of the Tweedy, Browne Company head Christopher H. Browne and his landscape architect partner, Andrew Gordon has been sold for the reputed $147 million. Browne left his entire estate to Gordon following his 2009 death at the age of 62, and Gordon, his partner of 10 year, lived at the property until his death from cancer aged 52 last September. 

    The New York Post reports that hedge fund manager Barry Rothstein of Jana Partners bought the 18-acre East Cox Architecture.

    It was 1996 when Browne bought the oceanfront estate which then had a 1950s house on the dunes. There is now an English country house in the center of the property, surrounded by formal English gardens and only remotely connected to the sea. The garden, with apple orchard near the road, and the ponds pre-date the house as on the purchase there had been an arrangement with the property’s previous owner, by which she could stay in the house for several more summers. The couple built a temporary 35-foot-tall observation platform in the middle of the property to help them formulate their ideas for the overall design. 

    Gordon inherited the estate but only after a dozen of Browne's relatives, staff and friends dropped their court challenges to his 2008 will, accusing Gordon of taking advantage of Browne's alcoholism and diminished mental state. One lawsuit referred to Gordon as "a cross between the American Gigolo and Claus von Bulow."

  2. The US$120 million sale of Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich, Connecticut took place two weeks ago. It had been put on the market for $190 million but failed to secure the asking price.

    The sale of a waterfront mansion on 50 acres (18 hectares) in Greenwich was through David Ogilvy & Associates, the Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate. The 1898 neo-French Renaissance manor at at 499 Indian Field Road in Greenwich (pictured below) was sold by real estate mogul Stanley Kroenke. 

    The five most expensive US house deals above 0 million

    Copper Beech Farm was the home for seven decades of the Lauder Greenway family, co-founders of US Steel.

    With views across Long Island Sound, it is the largest waterfront estate on the coastline between Greenwich and New York City. The New York Times reported it last traded in 1981 for US$7.55 million when it was bought by timber magnate John Rudey, a timber magnate. The news of the sale was broken by the local paper. It was featured in a 1986 coffee table book highlighting the town’s 46 most architecturally significant historic abodes.

  3. The US$117.5 million nine-acre Silicon Valley estate in San Francisco sits in third place. It was bought by Softbank billionaire Masayoshi Son in late 2012. The Mountain Home Road, Woodside, California comes with 9,000-square foot neo-classical house, a 1,117-square foot colonnaded pool house, a detached library, a retreat building, a swimming pool, a tennis court and formal gardens. 

    The mansion (pictured below) is roughly 9,000 square feet, and was designed by Virginia-based architect Allan Greenberg.

    The five most expensive US house deals above 0 million

    Photo courtesy of Jay Graham.

    Created by Virginia-based architect Allan Greenberg, it was featured in Extraordinary Homes California: An Exclusive Showcase of the Finest Architects, Designers and Builders in California, in 2009.

    Greenberg, who is a member of the Architectural Digest 100, described the house as sitting in “an elaborate hilltop garden”, and noted that, in the Palladian tradition, “it is planned around hyphens and dependencies and features a double volume, elliptical garden room.”

    It has a pool, nine-acres of property, and is surrounded by 360-degree views of the Woodside Mountains. The residence was never publicly listed for sale was previously owned by Tully Friedman of Friedman Fleischer and Lowe LLC, a San Francisco investment firm.

  4. The US$103 million purchase of fund manager Ron Baron in 2007 for an undeveloped 40-acre estate, also on Further Lane, East Hampton ranks fourth. It is where the billionaire is building a 28,000 square foot house. 

    Ron Baron's purchase of the Further Lane de Menil Estate at 260 Further Lane in East Hampton (pictured below) through his 260 A LLC company came at the height of the market.

    The five most expensive US house deals above 0 million

    Photo courtesy of Doug Kuntz/Splash News/Newscom.

    Subsequent reporting suggest he has built himself a home on the western third of the property, but now hopes to divide the remaining land into two oceanfront parcels with adjacent lots for guesthomes. The street-to-ocean developed properties could fetch upwards of US$42 million each according to a local broker, using a 10 acre parcel as a model.

  5. Sitting in fifth place is the recent US$102 million sale of the Fleur de Lys Estate in Los Angeles’s Holmby Hills though not to Michael Milken who denies it is him. So maybe it's a “highly secretive French billionaire”. Either way it is the most expensive home ever sold in L.A. County, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Presumably the paperwork will show it exceded the 56,500-square-foot Aaron Spelling Manor in Los Angeles that sold for US$85 million in July 2011 when The The Manor in the Holmby Hills neighbourhood sold to the heiress Petra Eccleston, daughter of Formula One racing magnate Bernie Ecclestone.

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Sold by socialite and philanthropist Suzanne Saperstein, Fleur de Lys has 12 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a ballroom, two kitchens, a massive movie theatre, a pool, tennis courts, and a nine-car garage. It had previously been listed for US$125 million.  According to the LA Times, the 4.6-acre N Carolwood Drive estate was sold after a three-way bidding war among international billionaires, and the winner closed in 10 days in an all-cash deal that included the home’s antique furnishings.

All available now at $40,000 a week rental

There is always a little hyperbole and mystery regarding prestige sales. There were initial reports in 2011 that the Russian investor Yuri Milner, who made money from Facebook, spent US$100 million on a Silicon Valley real estate. But the local paper with access to records of the Santa Clara County assessor subsequently reported it was US$75 million on the 25,500-square-foot mansion in Los Altos Hills.

The previous record was US$95 million in 2008 for Maison de L'Amitie, an estate in Palm Beach, Florida, though Dmitri Rybolovlev, the Russian billionaire who reportedly bought the former Donald Trump house had always denied owning — until conceding a linkage in his divorce deposition. His lawyer says Rybolovlev pays its taxes and upkeep expenses, but doesn’t own the beachfront house at 515 N. County Road, formerly the Gosman estate. The questions were lodged by attorneys representing Dmitri’s estranged wife, Elena. 

The Milner purchase was through La Paloma Property LLC, according to county records, a limited liability company registered in Delaware, where business laws protect the identities of the principals in companies and partnerships, but the blog TechCrunch had the buyer as Yuri Milner, the Russian venture investor who founded the investment fund Digital Sky Technologies, now known as DST Global.

Some suggested the transaction combined cash and stock. 

The seller was Evershine III's tech tycoon Fred Chan, founder of ESS Technology in Fremont, and his wife, Annie, who built the hilltop house, which sits on a main parcel of 11 acres with two adjoining parcels off La Paloma Road. The five bedroom, nine bathroom house comes with a tennis court and car wash following its 2003 construction.

Subsequent local assessor appraisals suggested it was less than the price reputedly. Santa Clara Country assessor Larry Stone suggested the house's fair market value was US$50,270,000. William Hablinksi, the architect, described the property on his website as an interpretation of the royal Chateau de Maisons and Anet. The total square footage rounds up to 30,000 square feet when you add in the 4,613-square-foot guest house. 

There have been other sales but of ranches including the Montana's Broken O Ranch sold at an unconfirmed price to billionaire St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, according to The Wall Street, in 2012 having been listed at US$132 million by the estate of The William Moore family, founders of Kelly-Moore Paint Co. 

The sale price of this 124,000-acre operational ranch is undisclosed, but at least US$90 million plus.

Lesser sales include Gary Winnick’s US$94 million purchase of the Weber Mansion in Los Angeles in 2000 for 10644 Bellagio Road, Bel Air.

There was also a Malibu oceanfront sale of US$75 million by the billionaire money manager Howard Marks to Russian billionaires in 2013 of a 20,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style villa with eight bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. Marks and his wife purchased the property for US$31 million in 2002 from the estate of late Herbalife founder Mark Hughes. Coming with more than 300 feet of ocean frontage, the Pacific Coast Highway property is one of Malibu’s largest seaside parcels.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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