More stories

  • in

    Inside Bill and Melinda Gates’s Bonkers Portfolio of American Real Estate

    After 27 years of marriage, amassing a planetary fortune and founding a namesake philanthropic enterprise with an endowment of nearly $50 billion, Bill and Melinda Gates announced this week that they’ve decided to split up in the most modern of ways, via Twitter. The split appears to be amicable, and the erstwhile couple says they will continue their roles as co-chairs and trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They will, however, need to divvy up their Brobdingnagian pile of assets, a no doubt Byzantine enterprise that has people around the world wondering who will get what.

    It’s often said that the Microsoft founder doesn’t like to spend his money frivolously. Frivolous, however, is in the eye of the beholder and often depends on the size of one’s bank account. And, for Gates, currently ranked by the bean counters at Forbes as the fourth richest person on earth with a net worth of around $130 billion, not spending frivolously means maintaining a fleet of Porsches and other high-performance sports cars, traveling by private jet—reportedly a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express that costs upwards of $40 million—and, though it’s worth but a tiny fraction of his overall wealth, presiding over a property portfolio easily valued in excess of a quarter-billion bucks.
    It’s not clear exactly how many homes the Gates actually own, and some of their estates comprise numerous parcels and several houses. There are, though, at least eight houses and compounds spread across the United States that, according to tax records, have a combined annual tax bill that tallies up to about $4 million. That might be enough to give an ordinary millionaire a million sleepless nights, but for Gates, the yearly tax bills are nothing more than pecuniary child’s play, less, in fact, than he earns in a single day.

    Based on how much wealth he added to his bottom line over the past year, according to Business Insider, he earned about $4,630 per second. That means at a spending rate of $1 million per day it would take him about 400 years to spend his fortune. Business Insider went on to determine that he’s 66% richer than the entirety of the British monarchy, has more money than the richest person in Asia and the richest person in China, combined, and could give every person in the world $15 and still have $28 billion to spare.

    The Gates’ primary property in Medina, Washington. 

    Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

    The Gates’ primary residence has long been a custom-built mansion that overlooks Lake Washington in Medina, Washington. The Pacific Lodge-inspired contemporary extravaganza, designed in conjunction between Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Cutler Anderson Architects, and often referred to in the press as Xanadu 2.0, after the estate of the lead character in “Citizen Kane,” measures in at about 66,000 square feet.
    Some of the notable creature comforts include seven bedrooms, two dozen bathrooms, six kitchens, including one that services a 2,200-square-foot ballroom/meeting space, garaging for a couple dozen cars and a 20-seat Art Deco-style theater. There’s also a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater sound system, 2,500 square feet of health and wellness facilities complete with gym, sauna and steam room, a trampoline room with 20-foot ceiling, and a 2,100-square-foot library with a bookcase that swings open to reveal a hidden bar. Outside, there’s a sport court, a salmon and trout-stocked stream, a boat dock and a private lakefront beach with sand imported by barge from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
    And, of course, the tech gadgetry is next level. Occupants and guests each wear a pin with pre-set preferences for lighting, temperature and audio-visual systems. The pins communicate with sensors throughout the house, and as one moves from room to room not only with one’s music selection of choice follow but the lights and climate systems will alter themselves automatically to correlate with preset preferences.
    And, because all that just isn’t enough, in addition to the main residence, which tax records show has a value of $130 million and a yearly tax bill of more than $2.3 million, the Gates own at least a dozen surrounding properties that altogether span more than ten acres with at least six additional luxury homes.

    The couple’s Indiana Wells home in California. 

    Photo Courtesy: Google

    The Gates dropped $12.5 million in 1999 for a deluxe desert mansion that sits alongside the manicured greens of the exclusive Vintage Club in Indian Wells, Calif., a private and exceedingly-posh golf and resort enclave about 20 miles southeast of Palm Springs.

    Not many details about the property are publicly available, but tax records and other digital resources indicate the 1.33-acre estate includes a main residence of nearly 14,000 square feet built in 1993 with six bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms plus a huge swimming pool shaped like a guitar and vast sweep of manicured lawn.
    The Vintage Club’s other homeowners include a bevy of billionaires, Charles Koch, Bill Gross, Dennis Washington and Ingrid Flick among them.

    One of the Gates’ Rancho Sante Fe properties. 

    Photo Courtesy:

    In 2014, after it had been on the market for a few years at declining prices that started at a wildly optimistic $29.95 million and dropped to about $25 million, the Gates swooped into ritzy Rancho Santa Fe, Calif, a Beverly Hills-style suburb about 20 miles north of San Diego, and scooped up diet guru Jenny Craig’s 228-acre horse farm in an off-market deal for a discounted price of $18 million.
    Then known as Rancho Paseana, and now known as Evergate Stables, the thoroughbred training and competitive hunting-jumping facility has been upgraded over the last handful of years. However, at the time of its 2014 sale, the farm includes four 30-stall barns, plus a fifth that will hold another 21 horses, an office and veterinarian suite, a guesthouse, a couple of 30-acre pastures and a 3/4-mile racetrack.

    The couples Rancho Paseana property. 

    Photo Courtesy: Google

    At the time the Gates bought Rancho Paseana in 2014, they already owned — and still own — a four-plus-acre estate at the tony Del Mar Country Club. Perched on a low ridge at the end of a palm tree-lined drive with panoramic views over Rancho Paseana, which is now called Evergate Stables, the nearly 11,000-square-foot Mediterranean villa was acquired, per tax records, in 1999 for $5.1 million.

    The Gates’s oceanfront compound in Del Mar, California. 

    Photo Courtesy:

    After two decades bunking periodically in Rancho Santa Fe, the Gates decided last year they’d like a place to hunker down at the ocean and, just as the Covid-19 lockdowns began to sweep across the nation, sealed the deal on the much-publicized $43 million purchase of an oceanfront compound along one of the most exclusive streets in the affluent seaside community of Del Mar, about six miles west of their holdings in Rancho Santa Fe.

    Designed by renowned local architect Ken Ronchetti, the single-level home presides over about 120-feet of beach frontage and measures in at a comfortably large but well short of humongous 5,800 square feet with six bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, plus a pair of guesthouses. Marketing materials from the time of the sale indicate the unconventionally bifurcated estate —the main house sits on one side of the street and a secondary structure is on the other — offers a plethora of leisure and recreation options including a home theater, a glass-tiled swimming pool, a 10-person hot tub, a health and fitness suite and, of course, a huge terrace with unparalleled views up and down the sugary sand.

    A private Cody, Wyoming mansion owned by the duo. 

    Photo Courtesy: Google

    CODY, WYO.
    Back in 2009 it was widely reported Gates shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million for a sublimely beautiful ranch of almost 500 acres nestled into the foothills of Carter Mountain about 20 miles outside of Cody, Wyoming.
    At the time of the transaction, marketing materials for the property indicated the fairly remote ranch is approached down a seven-mile-long drive with a 15,000-square-foot main residence known as Irma Lake Lodge. Additionally, there’s a five-bedroom guesthouse, a caretaker’s house, and a three-room cottage built by American Old West legend Buffalo Bill Cody who settled the land sometime around the turn of the 20th century. It was Cody, in fact, who gave the four small and pristine lakes that dot the ranch their names: Irma, Lilly, Arta and Natalie.

    The massive Rocky Mountain getaway, Yellowstone Club. 

    Photo Courtesy: Google

    The Gates family maintains a substantial Rocky Mountain getaway in the ultra-prestigious Yellowstone Club, a 13,600-acre members-only ski and golf resort community just west of Big Sky, Montana, where some of the other high net worth members are reported to include Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, TV producer Burt Sugarman and entertainment news journalist Mary Hart, Frank McCourt, former owner of the L.A Dodgers, Peter Chernin, former president of News Corp., and billionaire hotelier Barry Sternlicht.

    It’s not clear how much the Gates paid for the multi-acre estate property that sits on a wooded ridge with magical wrap-around mountain views, but becoming a member of the club is not for mere financial mortals. Membership reportedly requires a roughly $300,000 initiation fee, the purchase of a home, which typically start at more than $5 million, and close to $40,000 in annual fees.
    Though there’s a tradition of members not talking about each other, an unnamed member recalls in a 2009 New York Times article that one of the attractions to Yellowstone Club for the Gates is the high-level of privacy and security that allows the family to take to the slopes without bodyguards.

    The multiacre spread in Wellington, Florida owned by the Gates. 

    Photo Courtesy:

    The Gates have had a foot in the South Florida real estate trenches since at least 2009 when they paid $5 million for a waterfront estate in low-key Hobe Sound. That property was sold in 2018 — at a million-dollar loss — but some years ago, no doubt because their daughter Jennifer is an award-winning equestrian, the Gates shifted their property focus to the affluent equestrian-oriented village of Wellington, about 17 miles west of Palm Beach at the swampy edge of The Everglades.
    The Gates didn’t just buy a small training facility, however. Between 2013 and 2019, they ponied up close to $46 million for no fewer than five properties that comprise more than 25 contiguous acres within the exclusive and guard-gated Mallet Hill enclave. Their most recent acquisition in the horsey community came in 2019 when they splashed out $21 million in an off-market deal for a 7.7-acre spread with a recently built mansion.  More

  • in

    Shaquille O’Neal’s Super-Size Florida Mansion Is Back on the Market for $16.5 Million

    First listed in 2018 for $28 million, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal’s massive home in Windermere, Fla., was finally sold. But the deal fell through, and the palatial estate is now back on the market for $16.5 million, with a few key updates.

    Gone is the ginormous Shaq-sized round bed in the primary bedroom; added is an improved pool area, complete with a summer kitchen, as well as landscaping and minor cosmetic fixes, such as fresh coats of paint and exterior pressure washes.

    But the mansion remains as massive as ever at 31,000 square feet, with a 6,000-square-foot indoor basketball court, 12 bedrooms and 15 baths. Of course, everything about this home was done on a grand scale. The two-story great room alone is more than 1,100 square feet, with its glass walls looking out to the pool and tranquil Lake Butler. The formal dining room, with its handcrafted wood paneling and molding, seats 16. In the kitchen, there’s a Viking six-burner stove, two built-in Wolf steamers, a side-by-side Sub-Zero fridge and freezer plus a second glass-doored fridge and two double-door convection ovens.

    The outsized porte cochere at the home’s entrance 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    Also on the main level are some of the residence’s best amenities: a sound-proofed cinema room; a “gentleman’s room” with game tables, a wet bar, wine fridge and ice maker; a separate, enclosed cedar-planked humidor and wine storage; an aquarium room with a triangular saltwater fish tank; the guest wing with its five en suite bedrooms, great room and bar; and the basketball court.
    On the second level, the primary suite is a secluded retreat that takes up a full wing of the estate. The bedroom is 900 square feet and has a private balcony, a drop-down screen for the projector TV and a marble fireplace. The walk-in closet is actually four separate rooms with custom shelving and a center island. Dual bathrooms have jetted showers, and one has a two-person Jacuzzi tub. Four other en suite bedrooms are also on the second level.

    The great room 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    Shaq likes his cars, so there’s also a 17-car garage with an attached fitness studio. A second garage houses another nine dream machines, as well as a dance studio and an enclosed recording studio (where *NSYNC is rumored to have recorded some of their first songs).
    The property sits on three acres of land in Windermere’s gated neighborhood of Isleworth, a prestigious golfing community with its own string of lakes. It’s in the most secluded section of the neighborhood. While the common amenities offer a lot, so does Shaq’s place. He named his 95-foot pool Shaq-apulco, and it does feel like a private resort out on the terrace with the large hot tub and expansive outdoor kitchen. A tiki-style cabana overlooks the sandy beach on Lake Butler, and there’s 700 feet of lakefront. A dock and boat lift provide direct access to the water.

    The fully loaded kitchen 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The NBA star is selling because he spends much more time in Atlanta these days with his job as a sports analyst for TNT, but he told listing agent Benjamin Hillman the things he’ll miss most about this mansion, which he built in 1990, are “those panoramic views of Lake Butler and the fun water activities like riding his wave runners through the chain of lakes in Windermere.”

    The family room 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The games room 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The home theater 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The 44-foot-long home office 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The huge primary bedroom 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    One of four rooms inside the master walk-in closet 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The two-person jetted tub in the master bath 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    One of the other 11 bedrooms in the home 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The indoor basketball court is wired for sound. 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The dance studio and secondary garage 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    The 95-foot pool is 15 feet deep 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

    Shaq named his pool area Shaq-apulco. 

    Photo: Christian Pestana Rodriguez/Premier Sotheby’s International Realty More

  • in

    Home of the Week: Inside Golf Legend Greg Norman’s $60 Million Florida Island Paradise

    The lawns of this eight-acre estate are as green as a golf course, which should come as no surprise considering the owners: golfing great Greg Norman and his wife, designer Kristen Norman. And the best part is that the grassy yardage stretches from one side of Florida’s Jupiter Island to the other, from the Intracoastal waterway to the the sandy beaches of the Atlantic. Even before looking inside, this place seems to earn its price tag of $59.9 million.

    The compound consists of seven buildings, including the main house, with plans for one more. Garages accommodate up to 12 cars and the employee parking lot can park 30 more. That there is even an employee parking lot tells you something about the vastness of this estate and the beauty of its landscaping.

    Those seven buildings make up 31,800 square feet of living space across a main house, coach house, pool house, tennis house, boat house, carriage house and beach house, also known as the Shark Shack. There are a total of 10 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, 12 of them full baths. The main house is a completely new, recently built structure. And while the exterior of the house is in a Cape Cod cottage style, it’s hardly a cottage. Kristen (Kiki) Norman was inspired by the work of French architect and designer Christian Liaigre in designing the home and its finishes, from the lacquered teak and high-gloss mahogany to the wire-brushed, custom oak floors to the brass Waterworks and Drummonds fixtures.
    The main house  Photo: Shawn Hood Media

    You won’t find any Florida kitsch inside either. Instead, the look is serene and modern with more trophies than seashells. It has every amenity you might expect from a nearly $60-million property: two 1,900-bottle wine cellars; gorgeous long corridors that are well lit and inviting, nothing of the dark cave you may expect; a cinema room, entertaining space; a bar with water views;  and a trophy room and gallery. The home also has a formal dining room, a SieMatic kitchen, a catering kitchen, a dining area, a butler’s pantry and a mud room. And there’s an elevator connecting it all. Two guest bedrooms occupy the first floor, but the second floor is dedicated to the primary living quarters. Spacious and airy, they include a large outdoor deck, a den, dual offices, bathrooms and closets, an accessory room, luggage room, linen room, kitchenette and, yes, the bedroom.

    The two-story coach house includes another two beds and two baths, a kitchen, a dining room sun room and garage space for six. The pool house is another of the newly built structures on the property and includes a vast open and covered patio, an outdoor kitchen as well as a bathroom and outdoor shower. It sits beside the main pool, which is 14 feet deep, and the plunge pool and hot tub.
    The tennis court and pavilion  Photo: Robert Stevens

    A US Open-sized tennis court graces one lawn area, with its own convenient hub for entertaining, including a bar and bathrooms, shaded space and an equipment room. The carriage house is the other main fitness site on the estate, including a gym and cardio rooms, equipment room, as well as space for guests with three bedrooms and full baths, plus another garage. A dog kennel, located in the generator house, rounds out the amenities to include even the four-legged family members.
    Along the Intracoastal, the boat house has an office and plenty of room for water toys, a tender and yacht equipment. The dock can accommodate a vessel of up to 150 feet.
    The kitchen and eating area in the main house has a few nautical cues.  Photo: Robert Stevens

    On the opposite shore is the 3,200-square-foot, elevated Shark Shack, the last of the newly constructed buildings. It faces the rolling waves of the Atlantic and includes two more bedrooms and baths, a full kitchen, dining and living room. The sand is right there, and the lack of nearby public parking makes the 172 feet of beachfront feel exceptionally private.
    “Having grown up on the beach in Australia,” Greg Norman says, “my search for the perfect property in America allowed me to incorporate all my needs, from privacy, security, a dock for my boats and direct access to the ocean was fulfilled when I was blessed enough to come across Tranquility in 1991.”
    The elegant trophy room  Photo: Shawn Hood Media

    His wife says, “I designed this estate to feel luxurious, but also warm and casual. It caters to our ‘barefoot-elegance’ lifestyle.”
    The Normans have also been trying to off-load their vast Colorado ranch property, taking the price down to $40 million last year.

    The listing for Tranquility is held by the Jills Zeder Group, an affiliate of Coldwell Banker Realty.
    The wrap-around bar leads out to the patios.  Photo: Robert Stevens

    The basement-level wine storage and tasting area  Photo: Robert Stevens

    The movie theater with boucle-upholstered seating  Photo: Robert Stevens

    One of several terraces on the property  Photo: Robert Stevens

    The main pool and pool house  Photo: Shawn Hood Media

    The oceanfront Shark Shack.  Photo: Robert Stevens

    The deck of the Shark Shack leads right to the sand.  Photo: Robert Stevens

    A rare parcel that has waterfront access on both the Intracoastal and the Atlantic.  Photo: Shawn Hood Media More

  • in

    $17.5 Million Condo In Miami Beach, Florida

    Great Room

    LOCATION: 7081 Fisher Island Drive, Miami Beach, Florida
    BEDROOMS & BATHROOMS: 5 bedrooms & 6 bathrooms
    PRICE: $17,500,000
    This luxury condo is located at 7081 Fisher Island Drive on Fisher Island in Miami Beach, Florida.

    It features approximately 8,430 square feet of living space with 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 1 half bathrooms, private elevator, great room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, family room and more.
    Outdoor features include 2,400 square feet of wrap-around terraces.
    It is listed at $17,500,000. More