Even as the country grapples with a reckoning over police brutality, systemic racism and a pandemic, luxury real estate has not hit pause. Those with deep pockets have been snapping up homes at the same pace as 2019, said Jonathan Miller, the president and CEO of the real estate and consulting firm Miller Samuel Inc.
“There’s no seasonality to these sales,” said Miller, who in his spare time keeps an informal record of some of the most expensive homes sold. “It’s product-based and, as a result, we’ve had these properties being significantly overpriced.”
In 2020, nearly 10 homes have sold in excess of $50 million while, in all of 2019, 25 homes over the same price threshold sold. Miller said that the ultra-luxury market remains largely unaffected by the news cycle and even major political and social changes in the country — in large part because people with this kind of buying power follow a different trajectory and are often immune to day-to-day financial problems rocking the rest of the country.
“I don’t see this as being an indication of the market being weak or strong,” Miller said.”I just see this as a long-running circus sideshow to the overall housing market.”
Together with Miller, Inman has compiled a semi-authoritative list of the most expensive real estate deal in the first half of 2020. If we missed any, let us know.
The most expensive real estate sale this year and in the history of Los Angeles happened in February when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shelled out $165 million for a historic property known as Warner Estate.
The nine-acre estate and 13,600-square-foot mansion were built by Warner Brothers head Jack Warner in the 1930s and had been owned by media mogul David Geffen since the 1990s.
The deal took place off-market and without an agent — news that rocked the LA real estate community just before the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S.
Just this week, entertainment mogul David Geffen dropped $68 million for a 3.3-acre property known as the Foothill Estate in Los Angeles.
The same Geffen who sold the $168 million home to Bezos in February — he has been making luxury real estate news a lot in the last year.
The home, which Geffen bought from Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee President Casey Wasserman, is the most expensive sale to take place in Los Angeles this year.
10721 Stradella Court
In March, a house linked to Robert Shapiro — a former developer sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2019 for running a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme with clients’ investments — was purchased for $60 million.
Located at 10721 Stradella Court in Los Angeles’ Bel Air and under construction at the time of sale, the 21,000-square-foot mansion was one of the properties put into a trust after Shapiro pleaded guilty in August 2019.
According to the Real Deal, the buyer remained anonymous by buying the home through an entity called Sky Garden 2020 LLC.
111 West 57th Street
New York City
At the start of June, two units in the still-under-construction 111 West 57th Street skyscraper on Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row were purchased for around $30 million each.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, a unit on the 64th floor went to an American in the finance industry for $30 million while the second unit on the 70th floor went to an international businessman in the tech industry for $30.5 million.
The latter entered contract last week, in the midst of the police brutality protests sweeping the country, while the former had been in contract since March.
Southampton, New York
When the coronavirus outbreak hit first New York, many of the city’s wealthiest people fled to places like the Hamptons — the real estate market exploded, with some people paying as much as $2 million to rent a home there throughout the summer.
In late April, a two-home compound owned by late financial advisor John F. Sullivan sold to an unknown buyer for $57.5 million. While the deal was reportedly negotiated before the pandemic hit, demand for properties in the ultra-affluent New York enclave has only grown since.
220 Central Park South
New York City
While the sales were not widely reported, Miller told Inman that four neighboring units in the brand-new luxury New York skyscraper 220 Central Park South sold between February and April of this year — for $51 million, $51 million, $52 million and $53 million, respectively.
The single buyer began contracts for the four units in 2019 and finalized the deal in April. With most of the transaction shrouded in secrecy, it is unclear whether the buyer intends to turn the condos, 5,495 square feet each, into a very large unit or leave them as-is.
The home, which Miami built with architect Paul McClean in 2017, was originally listed for $100 million — a common tactic in which LA developers set an exorbitant listing price to generate buzz around a home even if it ends up selling for a fraction of that price.
620 Arvida Parkway
Coral Gables, Florida
The annual record for the most expensive home in the Miami area was broken by Leon Medical Centers founder Benjamin Leon Jr., who sold a waterfront mansion in Gables Estate in April.
The buyer was trial attorney John H. Ruiz while the home, an extravagant 22,000-square-foot mansion at 620 Arvida Parkway, is the second most expensive in Miami’s history — the first being the sale of 3 Indian Creek Island for $49.9 million in late 2019.
Ocean Boulevard estate
Palm Beach, Florida
An estate that once belonged to Alfred Taubman, the late mall mogul convicted of a price-fixing scheme in the early 2000s, sold for for $46.75 million.
Located in Palm Beach, it sits at 19,000 square feet and was sold in May, at a time when Florida was first starting to open up from the coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Further Lane estate
East Hampton, New York
Also in April, an oceanfront property in East Hampton that was originally listed for $60 million sold for $45 million — at the time, the highest sale in the area.
While the buyer has remained anonymous, the home was purchased from the estate of late Union Pacific chairman James H. Evans.
White River Valley, Colorado
About six weeks after he dropped out of the presidential race in March, businessman Michael Bloomberg decided he might want to lay low in Colorado — and bought a ranch in the north of the state from fellow billionaire Henry Kravis for $44.79 million.
Known as the Westlands, the estate is located about an hour’s drive from Aspen and sits at 4,600 acres of land while the 19,000-square-foot main property is designed like a ranch house — a far cry from Bloomberg’s New York tastes.
Ocean Front estate
Del Mar, California
Back in March, Bill and Melinda Gates dropped $43 million on a 5,800-square-foot, oceanfront property in San Diego. Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in the 1970s, is currently the second-richest person in the world after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
He and Melinda, co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bought it from the widow of Texas financier T. Boone Pickens. The house is located in Del Mar and was originally listed for $48 million before the Gates snapped it up in March.
10410 Bellagio Road
A Bel Air mansion designed by architect Paul Williams was one of the other sky-high sales to take place in Los Angeles at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in early April, when the city was under a shelter-in-place order.
Located at 10410 Bellagio Road, the 20,000-square foot estate belonged to Hillside Pueblo, an LLC managed by real estate investor Christopher Cole. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former chief executive of Uber, was later revealed to be the buyer.
145 N. Mapleton Drive estate
As the coronavirus raged and caused lockdowns in most major US cities, Kylie Jenner bought a spec mansion built by real estate developer Gala Asher in April for $36.5 million.
At only 22 years old, the media personality was once deemed the world’s youngest billionaire — a title Forbes Magazine later revoked after allegations that she overstated the profits of her makeup company. Either way, Jenner still has significant buying power and caused waves with the purchase, among the most expensive in Los Angeles this year.
21 Casuarina Concourse estate
Coral Gables, Florida
In June, companies connected to Grupo Cisneros (a Florida-based Spanish-language media conglomerate owned by the powerful Cisneros family of Venezuela) sold off several parcels of land in Gables Estates for a combined $37.6 million.
These include an estate at 21 Casuarina Concourse for $25.5 million, the tennis court across the street for $5.4 million and the adjacent lot for $6.7 million. According to the Real Deal, the combined sale price is about $20.4 million less than once listed.
Silicon Valley estate
A San Francisco Bay Area estate belonging to late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sold for $35.25 million in February to an anonymous buyer.
Allen passed away in 2018 — as a result, a trust controlled by his sister, Jody, sold off the estate, Mansion Global reports.
One Dalton Street
January feels light years away but that is when the penthouse of Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences One Dalton Street sold for an eye-popping $34 million — the second most expensive sale ever recorded in Boston.
The penthouse was originally listed for $40 million while the buyer was concealed through a trust.
446 North Lake Way
Palm Beach, Florida
Mark Pulte, a real estate developer in South Florida, unloaded his Palm Beach estate at 446 North Lake Way for $33.2 million at the start of May.
The home was represented by Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates while the buyer remained anonymous through an LLC.
Beverly Hills estate
Iconic actress and “America’s Got Talent” judge Sophia Vergara and actor husband Joe Manganiello bought an extravagant mansion in Beverly Hills for $26 million this week — as first reported by the Los Angeles Times, famous baseball player Barry Bonds bought it for $8.7 million in 2002.
It has been bought and rebought a few times, ultimately ending up with Vergara and Manganiello.
Back in March, a 16,726-square-foot mansion built into the base of Aspen mountain sold for $22 million — half of its originally exorbitant asking price of $45 million.
Christy Thompson, the daughter of late Texas oil executive J. Cleo Thompson, bought it while Liz Leeds of Slifer Smith & Frampton oversaw the transaction. Rumor has it that Rihanna once leased the property.