Palm Beach, Florida, luxury real estate had a banner year, nabbing half of the most expensive sales of the year, but a New York City deal claimed the top spot.

October is Luxury Month at Inman, and this is the final post in a 5-part series looking at the high end market. Click here to read how the luxury housing market became invincible in 2021, here to see the biggest luxury mountain sales, here for the biggest beach sales and here for the biggest city sales. Then join us for Luxury Connect at the Aria Hotel (Oct. 25-26, 2021) and the live presentation of the Inman Golden I Club honorees for this year.

If the biggest sales of the year are any indication, luxury real estate is doing better than ever. Although 2020 saw only one sale above $100 million, four properties over $120 million have already been purchased across the United States by October. In all of 2019, only 25 homes above $50 million sold.

Rising home values, historic inventory shortages and an overall exacerbation of inequality are creating a market in which even the top 1 percent of properties, which can normally sit for weeks due to a tiny pool of buyers with the funds to make such purchases, are snapped up quickly by those looking with massive real estate portfolios.

Long considered a beach escape for billionaires, Palm Beach has come out as a clear frontrunner this year — home prices grew by 30 percent since fall 2020 and eight out of the 20 properties on this list came from there.

While this type of list can never be complete due to the high level of secrecy with which many of these deals take place, we thought we’d take a look at some of the biggest sales in 2021 so far for Luxury Month:

220 Central Park South

$157 million

New York, New York

City Realty | Wikipedia | Alibaba

The most expensive real estate purchase was cemented not by a flashy celeb but in a great deal of secrecy by one of Alibaba’s founders. Taiwanese-Canadian investor Joe Tsai, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets, paid a combined $157 million for a pair of condos in one of New York City’s most sought-after addresses.

The condos include a full-floor, 5,935-square-foot unit on the 60th floor that Tsai bought for $82.5 million, another full-floor unit on the 61st floor for $57 million and an 18th-floor studio for Tsai’s staff.

While news that someone had made one of the largest real estate purchases in New York’s history (the biggest in both the city and the country is still held by Ken Griffin, who bought the penthouse in the same building for $238 million in 2019) had first broken in June, Tsai’s identity as the buyer was not revealed until late July.

The purchase is around the same price range as the biggest real estate sale of 2020, which occurred when Jeff Bezos shelled out $165 million for a historic Los Angeles property known as Warner Estate.

11511 Madison Road

$136.25 million

Three Forks, Montana

Climbing Arrow Ranch

The biggest mountain sale of the year took place when Climbing Arrow Ranch entered contract to sell for its asking price of  $136.25 million. Located just outside of Bozeman, Montana, in the Rocky Mountains, the estate that is also known as CA Ranch is enormous in size — it spans 79,483 acres and four separate counties.

It was built in 1905 and, along with acres of open land, contains an owner’s home, corrals, workshops, employee residences, sheds, barns and guest houses. Its territory runs through irrigated hay meadows along the Madison River, grazing fields for cattle and limestone cliffs. Such pastoral beauty made the land the site of “A River Runs Through It,” a 1992 movie directed by Robert Redford.

The property sold within a week of being listed in May, but as the buyers protected their identity through an LLC, their exact identity is unknown. (It is confirmed that they are American buyers, though.) While this type of ranch seems to exist in its own category of real estate, it is by far the most expensive purchase in the Rocky Mountains in 2021 and the most expensive real estate sale ever in Montana.

535 North Country Road

$122.7 million

Palm Beach, Florida

Trump Organization, provided by Kendra Todd

Unlike 2020, 2021 saw a string of real estate deals at the highest level within close price range of one another — one such deal is a Palm Beach spec house on a lot that once belonged to former President Donald Trump.

The 61,744-square-foot residence at 535 North Country Road known as Maison de l’Amitié that Trump bought for $41.35 million in 2004 was later demolished and subdivided into three separate properties by Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev (he bought it for $95 million in 2008.)

One of those parcels now holds a 21,000-square-foot mansion and sold for around $140 million in February — that makes it the most expensive sale in a city already known to be a billionaire’s playground.

Despite the division into three lots, the property has been mired in controversy due to its connection to Trump. When he was being investigated for possible Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden called on the Treasury Department to release financial records around the deal and investigate how it could have nearly doubled in value over four years.

In 2005, “Apprentice” winner Kendra Todd was hired to oversee a $25 million renovation of the property that a 2016 application for demolition obtained by The New York Times revealed was limited to a new kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and “minor interior alterations of doors, frames and windows.”

1840 South Ocean Boulevard

$109.6 million

Palm Beach, Florida

1840 South Ocean Boulevard | Realtor.com

While this property didn’t gain as much media attention as some of the other homes on this list, the 15,950-square-foot mansion at 1840 South Ocean Boulevard is the second most expensive sale of the year in Palm Beach.

Purchased by German entrepreneur Dr. Ernst Arnold Langner in 2012 for $23.5 million, the estate was rebuilt from the ground up after Langner demolished what stood on the lot and built the current mansion in its place. Sitting between Lake Worth Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, the house has nine bedrooms, ten full bathrooms and three half-bathrooms.

It sold just a bit under the asking price of $115 million and had Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates representing both Langner and the buyer.

90 Jule Pond Drive

$105 million

Southampton, New York

Aerial view of Southampton, New York with shoal and inlet. Photo Credit: Fotosearch and Getty Images

One of the biggest real estate sales of the year took place when a 42-acre Hamptons estate sold after more than four years on the market. Listed for $175 million in 2017, 90 Jule Pond Drive sat on the market for years without owner Brenda Earl feeling pressure to lower the price after cutting it once to $145 million.

And then in April 2021, the property unexpectedly entered contract to sell although representatives from Bespoke Real Estate and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty were very sparse on details about the process — all that is known is that the buyer comes from a prominent “American real estate family.” In October, the final sales price was revealed to be $105 million.

The estate comes with a 20,000-square-foot main house with 12 bedrooms, 12 full bathrooms, three partial bathrooms and a swimming pool. It was built in 1957 by Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry Ford II and is exceptionally affluent even for a town where the median listing price is above $2 million.

1341 South Ocean Boulevard

$95 million

Palm Beach, Florida

1341 South Ocean Boulevard | Realtor.com

If you think this list has an abundance of Palm Beach properties, you are not wrong — what has long been known as the billionaire’s playground in Florida saw its real estate values skyrocket during the pandemic.

The third biggest real estate sale on the island took place in May when clock heir Edward G. Watkins sold his 14,000-square-foot mansion at 1341 South Ocean Boulevard for $95 million. It sits on a 2.03-acre lot and overlooks scenic palms with waterfront views all around it.

One of the most popular agents among Palm Beach billionaires, Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates represented this listing as well.

Once listed for $110 million, the house wasn’t on the market when it sold and went to an anonymous buyer who hid behind the unoriginally named 1341 South Ocean Boulevard Trust LLC. It was not, as many of the other sales on this list, a cash transaction — TheRealDeal reported that the buyer took out $60 million from Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Mortgage to finance the sale.

2000 South Ocean Boulevard

$94.2 million

Palm Beach, Florida

2000 S. Ocean Blvd | Realtor.com

The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered a slew of sales in Palm Beach, including the $94.2 million purchase of a property at 2000 South Ocean Boulevard known as “The Gemini” by James Clark, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur at the advent of the internet age.

The property was owned by the Ziff publishing family, and previously listed in 2015 for nearly $200 million. The property spans more than 15 acres and includes a 62,200-square-foot mansion. It also boasts 1,200 feet of frontage on the Atlantic Ocean and about 1,300 feet on the Intracoastal Waterway.

141 South Carolwood Drive

$88 million

Los Angeles, California

Alexis Adams

A long-running real estate saga finally came to an end when Owlwood Estate, an ostentatious Los Angeles mansion once owned by 1960s icons Sonny and Cher and later tied to disgraced developer Robert Shapiro, sold to an unidentified buyer.

The house, located at 141 South Carolwood Drive, comes with a rich history — 20th Century Fox co-founder Joseph Schenck bought it from its first 1930s owners and would use it to host parties frequented by stars like Marilyn Monroe. In the 1960s, Cher also came to a party on the grounds and liked the estate so much that she convinced actor Tony Curtis to sell it to her. She and husband Sonny Bono lived in it throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

While the Tuscan-style mansion is beautiful and important due to its connection to Hollywood history, it has also become inextricable from controversy in recent years. Shapiro, who was sentenced to a 25-year prison sentence for running a Ponzi scheme with investors, bought Owlwood for $90 million in 2016.

In 2019, Shapiro was found guilty of defrauding investors out of more than $1.3 billion. Viewpoint Collection Partners investment group then took control of Owlwood on behalf of Shapiro’s victims and had been trying to sell it, cutting prices several times since then.

Tarpon Island, 10 Tarpon Way

$85 million

Palm Beach, Florida

Travis Johnson | EyeEm Getty Images

While the real estate market in South Florida has been red-hot all year, Todd Michael Glaser has taken such unbridled confidence to degrees unseen before even in a city like Palm Beach.

After purchasing and demolishing a Palm Beach mansion that belonged to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the celebrity real estate developer bought nearby Tarpon Island off the Intracoastal Waterway for approximately $85 million in July.

The 2-and-a-half-acre island is currently only accessible by private bridge, boat, helicopter or seaplane and has a single 1930s-era mansion. At the time that he made the purchase, Glaser announced that he would be redeveloping the island to double the size of the home to 22,000 square feet.

But just two months after all that, Glaser announced that he would be relisting the private island for $120 million as-is or $200 million with the planned renovation. Calling a $100 million house “not that crazy anymore,” Glaser said that the sky-high rate at which Palm Beach real estate has been growing over the last year (a single-family home reached $475,000, a 30 percent increase from 2020) means that there is no time to hold off on buying.

Time will tell whether that will be the case or, as can frequently with properties worth over $100 million, a buyer does not immediately come running.

1601 San Onofre Drive

$83M

Pacific Palisades, California

1601 San Onofre Drive | Realtor.com

Developer Ardie Tavangarian’s mega spec mansion spans numerous categories — it has views of the water, the mountains and is located in the heart of LA’s Pacific Palisades. But the estate, located 1601 San Onofre Drive, sits atop of a hill amid the Santa Monica Mountains and that is why we put it in our round-up of the biggest mountain sales. Spanning 20,000 square feet, six bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, the property is built out of wood and concrete in the ultra-modern design currently de rigueur among LA celebrities. Several stories of the house are stacked on top of each other to look like it’s built into the hilltop; greenery, including both landscaped grounds and the surrounding trees, are built into everything from the rooftop to the pool and parking.

This property was pocket listing, with the sale taking place entirely off the market. The seller’s identity has not been revealed but the website Dirt leaked that it is a billionaire who made his fortune through cryptocurrency. Tavangarian is one of the LA developers building at the highest end of LA’s homes; he bought four neighboring properties in Bel Air from Elon Musk (who is currently on a mission to get rid of all “earthly possessions”) and told TheRealDeal plans to combine them into a single lot.

12525 Seminole Beach Road

$80 million

Palm Beach, Florida

12525 Seminole Beach Road | Realtor.com

Larry Ellison, the tenth-wealthiest person in the world, paid $80 million (chump change to a man with a $90 billion empire) for a 15,000-square-foot waterfront estate in, you guessed it, Palm Beach.

Ellison’s vast real estate empire includes homes in Malibu, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Rhode Island, Japan and Hawaii (where he now spends the majority of his time), but this year, 12525 Seminole Beach Road recently caught the Oracle founder’s eye. In April, he bought it from hedge fund manage Gabriel Hoffman for a smidge above the $79.5 million asking price.

At 7.35 acres and 520 feet of ocean footage, the property is the third-largest piece of waterfront land Palm Beach County. The mansion itself, which is built in the Tuscan style and comes with a movie theater, a wine room, a pool with a terrace and a tennis court, is just a small piece of the overall property. The estate also comes with its own helicopter pad, which the listing advertised as a rarity for Palm Beach.

8 South Lake Trail

$71.85 million

Palm Beach, Florida

8 S. Lake Trail | Google Maps

A new record was set when investment-services billionaire Charles R. Schwab bought the most expensive lakefront property in Palm Beach, for $71.85 million.

Located at 8 S. Lake Trail, the house belonged to energy financier Robb E. Turner and his wife Lydia who bought it only three years ago for $27 million. The property sits on a dock and overlooks over 180 feet of waterfront.

As the discrepancy between what the Turners paid and sold it for shows, the prices in Palm Beach are growing at breakneck speed — this sale beats the last lakefront record in town by nearly $20 million when Henry R. Kravis purchased 700 N. Lake Way in 2006.

Like many of the other properties on this list, this sale was kept quiet and was only reported on by a few local newspapers like the Palm Beach Daily News.

535 Barnaby Road

$70 million

Los Angeles, California

Simon Berlyn | Zillow | Wikipedia

The biggest celebrity purchase of the year took place when Abel Tesfaye, known professionally as best-selling musician The Weeknd, paid $70 million for a 1.6-acre estate in the flashy Bel Air neighborhood.

More of a resort than a house, 535 Barnaby Road comes with a spa with a sauna and a hammam, indoor and outdoor pools, a sports court, a gym, movie theater and a music studio.

The owners, Dutch media mogul-producer Reinout Oerlemans and his wife Danielle Oerlemans, were not looking to sell but the famous singer took interest in the house and got local celebrity agents Rayni and Branden Williams to approach the couple about a potential sale, which took place as an off-market deal with Angel Salvador of the Beverly Hills Estates representing Tesfaye.

The Oerlemans purchased the house for $21.44 million in 2015 and made nearly $50 million in profit. Over the time they spent living in the property, the couple undertook a massive renovation that added around 13,000 square feet to the existing structure and reworked the interior to an open floor plan.

905 North Ocean Boulevard

$68.4M

Palm Beach, Florida

905 N. Ocean Boulevard | Google Maps

In an off-market deal, hedge fund billionaire and owner of the Carolina Panthers David Tepper paid $68.4 million for a 11,200-square-foot mansion in February. The property is adjacent to both the ocean and Palm Beach Country Club.

2 East 88th Street penthouse

$60 million

New York, New York

2 East 88th Street | CityRealty

The record for the biggest amount of money ever paid for a New York co-op was set in May when Swiss financier Jacqui Safra sold his triplex penthouse at 2 East 88th Street for $60 million. Unique to New York City real estate, a co-op is a building that functions as a corporation and “allows” those it deems worthy to buy shares in the building.

A 12-room unit taking up the 14th, 15th and 16th floors of the building, the extravagant penthouse was on the market for only one day when it sold to an unidentified buyer. The deal was kept tightly under wraps and news of the sale did not come out until September.

At 81 years old, Safra spent decades living in the apartment with his producer partner Jean Doumanian but ultimately decided to sell. Nikki Field of Sotheby’s worked with him and said to have showed it to seven different buyers before it was accepted.

20-30 Spaeth Lane

$60 million

East Hampton, New York

While the Hamptons was somewhat eclipsed this year by Palm Beach’s skyrocketing popularity among millionaires, the affluent New York enclave regularly tops annual lists of biggest beach sales in the country.

In March, one of the most expensive real estate sales of 2021 took place with the sale of 20 Spaeth Lane for $60 million. Occupying nearly eight acres, the property includes a 15,421-square-foot mid-century modern mansion built in 1955 by architects George Nelson and Gordon Chadwick.

The death of the last owner, Life Savers candy heiress June Noble Smith Larkin Gibson, at the age of 98 led to the house being sold off by her estate.

Listed for $72 million in August 2020, it sold for $60 by spring of 2021; Brown Harris Stevens’ Peter Turino and Christopher Burnside were the listing agents representing the property. While listing photos of the house included art works by Pablo Picasso and Edward Hopper (its early owners were art lovers), it is unclear whether those pieces were included in the sale.

70 Further Lane

$59.5 million

East Hampton, New York

Google Maps

In February, 70 Further Lane in East Hampton sold to an unidentified buyer in an off-market deal. The deal took place off the market with not-so-clever names like 70 Further Lane LLC (seller) and 70 Further Lane Holdings LLC (buyer).

The seller was Jim Chanos, a broker whose cutthroat shorting and trading earned him nicknames like the Darth Vader of Wall Street and the Catastrophe Capitalist.

While the main house is not directly adjacent to the beach (at nearly three acres of land, the water is a short walk away), the numerous bedrooms and terraces do boast views of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Other features include an oceanside pool, a tennis court and a basketball court. A Hampton news outlet known as 27 East reported that Chanos’ ex-wife Amy hosted a party for for former governor Andrew Cuomo at the site in 2010 before his first campaign.

24844 Malibu Road

$57.3 million

Malibu, California

Another celeb known for his ostentatious real estate moves, Kanye West recently dropped $57.28 million on a 3,665-square-foot house on Malibu’s Puerco Beach. Designed by the same famed architect (Tadao Ando) who worked on Tom Ford’s ranch, the house has the signature concrete style but has not exactly gone down well on social media.

After getting picked up by the popular Zillow Gone Wild Instagram account, the house was described as a “parking garage,” an “abandoned clinic” and a “high-end bunker for a cult leader” by social media users.

The house has three stories and was built on a 0.13-acre stretch of waterfront in 2013. Previous owners include Ashley Olsen’s boyfriend Richard Sachs and voice actor Edie Boddicker.

While West could not be independently confirmed as the owner, it is extremely likely as the company that made the sale is registered to the same address as Yeezy, the rapper’s extremely popular clothes and shoe line. The sale took place as West is in the midst of navigating an extremely high-profile divorce from Kim Kardashian.

174 Via Del Lago

$57 million

Palm Beach, Florida

174 Via Del Lago | ACH Digital Photography

Hotelier Beatrice Tollman, founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, sold her 15,200-square-foot Palm Beach mansion for roughly $57 million back in March to an undisclosed buyer. She and her husband had owned the home since 1987, when they bought it for $2.7 million.

It comes with all the expected amenities of a waterfront mansion, including a dock, a tennis court, nine bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms and six half baths.

382 South Beach Road

$55 million

Palm Beach, Florida

382 South Beach Road | Realtor.com

Australian golf icon from the 1980s and 1990s Greg Norman sold the 32,000-square-foot estate at 382 South Beach Road on Jupiter Island to the family of billionaire and L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner.

Closing on April 7, the sale is a small cut from the $60 million that Norman and his wife Kiki had asked for it originally. The entire estate takes up 8.3 acres and features a 32,000-square-foot house that Norman has been renovating himself over the last few years. The entire estate has over 170 feet of direct ocean and waterfront access.

Jill Hertzberg of The Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker and Michelle Thomson of Coldwell Banker’s Thomson Team worked with Norman to sell the house. The sale was evidently an act of downsizing since, not long after the sale was complete, he paid $12.2 million for a six-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom mansion at 12227 Tillinghast Circle in Palm Beach Gardens.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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