Most expensive homes in America 2003
Although not one of the properties from our 2002 list of the Most Expensive Homes in America has sold, that hasn't stopped some Americans from putting their homes on the market at even higher prices.
Our list of the Most Expensive Homes in America--which includes the top ten priced homes publicly listed (as opposed to properties that are privately shopped around)--saw the average price rise to $49.05 million from $48.4 million last year. The least expensive home on the list is $38 million. There are seven new houses this year
What is it that makes some people ask such dizzying prices for these houses? One thing is certain: It's a lot more than they paid for them in the first place. Still, hubris, greed and pride play a large part. The fact that few of the homes that made it on our list have sold indicates that buyers, even very rich ones, think that $40 million, or more, is too much to ask for a house. In fact, many of the properties that made our list in recent years have either had their prices lowered--in some cases, so much so that they dropped off our list--or were taken off the market entirely.
Among the seven houses gone from the list are Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione's Manhattan townhouse, which made our list last year with a $37 million price tag. But it wasn't on the market for long. General Media, a subsidiary of Penthouse International--controlled by Guccione--filed for bankruptcy, and after Guccione took out a $15 million loan from New Jersey lender Kennedy Funding, apparently using the house as collateral, the firm was planning to auction it off before Guccione won a two-week reprieve. Now the house is on the market again, but this time the asking price is $29 million.
Even $40 million properties can lose their buzz if they languish too long. After making our list two years in a row, the $45 million Bel Air, Calif., mansion of Iris Cantor (widow of B. "Bernie" Gerald Cantor, co-founder of securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald) has been taken off the market, according to listing agent Ron de Salvo. Chris Whittle, former publisher of Esquire and founder and chief executive of the controversial for-profit education company Edison Schools (nasdaq: EDSN - news - people ), dropped the price on his Hamptons estate to $36 million from $45 million last year, just $2 million short of the $38 million-priced spec home at the bottom of our list.
The most conspicuous drop-off from our list is the $75 million Palm Beach, Fla., home of Nelson Peltz, chairman and chief executive of Triarc (nyse: TRY - news - people ). The mansion earned the top spot on our list for the last two years, and although the estate seemed destined to take a permanent position as the most expensive home in America, Peltz's broker, Ned Monell, assured us, "This time [the house] is off the market."
Taking Peltz's house's place at the top of the list is the home of Cheryl Gordon, widow of real estate mogul Edward S. Gordon, founder of Edward S. Gordon Co., which was sold to Insignia Financial Group and renamed Insignia/ESG, and later acquired by privately held CB Richard Ellis.
Called Three Ponds, the Bridgehampton property on New York's Long Island was listed last August for $75 million. Although the property isn't on the ocean, the estate has a U.S.G.A.-rated golf course, with nine drilled holes designed to be played in both directions; a 25,000-square-foot main house; 65 acres; and three ponds, one of which is so large it's described as lakelike.
Another newcomer to the list is Bernard Marden's estate in Palm Beach, which is listed for $40 million. Pop star Michael Jackson looked at the house in December 2002 before reportedly deciding that the 22,900-square-foot mansion wasn't quite large enough.
Finally, squeaking in at last place is a $38 million Palm Beach mansion, thought to be the most expensive speculative property ever developed there. The house, built by Addison Development, has 274 feet of ocean-to-lake frontage, nine bedrooms, 12 baths and deeded beach rights.
Still, despite the track records of houses on our previous lists, this year's owners should take heart. Apparently there are some people out there who are willing to spend $40 million on a place to live. This past August, a residential real estate record was set in Manhattan when a London-based financier, identified by The New York Times and The Financial Times as David Martinez, bought a 12,600-square-foot floor-and-a-half condo in the new Time Warner Center building in Manhattan's Columbus Circle for more than $40 million.
Article by: Betsy Schiffman - www.forbes.com