The Real Deal New York

Where are the priciest homes on the planet?

From Hong Kong to Paris to LA, the most expensive residential properties — outside of NYC. Warning: You’ll need to throw down a few hundred million.

February 01, 2016
By Kathryn Brenzel

75-Peak-Road-Hong-Kong

75 Peak Road, a historic site in Hong Kong, sold for $657.8 million in 2015.

year ago, the sale of a penthouse at One57 shook up the New York City real estate world when it shattered the $100 million marker.

While that $100.5 million record-setting deal could soon be surpassed — the Chetrit Group is asking $150 million for a penthouse at 550 Madison Avenue and a buyer is reportedly in contract on a $200 million-plus mega unit at the under-construction 220 Central Park South — New York’s priciest residential properties pale in comparison to some of their counterparts in other global cities.

This month, The Real Deal sifted through land registry records, public listings and news reports and also interviewed experts to find the priciest residential listings and most expensive recent sales on the planet.

The 2015 sale of a sprawling Hong Kong property for a jaw-dropping $657.8 million was the loftiest of the bunch — by far. A $400 million listing for a 35,500-square-foot penthouse in Monaco is the only home on our list that even comes remotely close.

Here is a breakdown of some of the world’s most impressive — and outlandish — listings and sales.

Hong Kong
75 Peak Road
$657.8 million (sale)

Hong Kong saw its priciest-ever residential sale early last year, when a property at 75 Peak Road sold for $657.8 million, according to global real estate firm Savills.

The dizzying price tag was partly due to the rarity of the site, which is known as Ho Tung Garden. Once home to a historic villa, the 2.8-acre site is considered an important example of Chinese Renaissance architecture. The seller, however, razed the property’s main house, so the site — which is located in Victoria Peak, also known as the Peak, one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive neighborhoods — is technically a developable piece of land. It was, however, classified as a residential sale.

A mainland tycoon and Hong Kong developer named Chung Kiu Cheung was the buyer, according to the South China Morning Post. The government has urged him to preserve the grounds.

While not every property comes with the opportunity to redevelop a historic plot, space is at a premium in Hong Kong, with $1 million only buying 215 square feet, according to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report. Nonetheless, the city’s other priciest homes don’t come close to this one.

The second most expensive reported sale of 2015 came from Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, who shelled out $193 million for a four-story home, also on the Peak. The home has seven living rooms, a rooftop terrace overlooking space is at a premium in Hong Kong, with $1 million only buying 215 square feet,Knight to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report. Nonetheless, the city’s other priciest homes don’t come close to this one.

The second most expensive reported sale of 2015 came from Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, who shelled out $193 million for a four-story home, also on the Peak. The home has seven living rooms, a rooftop terrace overlooking Victoria Harbour and a 20,000-square-foot private garden, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.   

Given that Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, it’s not surprising that many of the most desirable and highest-priced apartments are those that offer some seclusion. David Ji, who heads up a research and consultancy team for Knight Frank in China, said the prime locations are “away from hustle and bustle of the urban streets.”

Twelve Peaks, a 12-house development on the Peak, fits that bill. The priciest home at the exclusive project is expected to ask $105.6 million. At $22,666 a square foot, that’s the highest priced home per square foot in Asia, the Wall Street Journal reported last summer.

Meanwhile, the city’s priciest sale of an apartment in 2015 was a $64.1 million pad at the Opus Hong Kong, a 12-unit building in the Peak designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, according to Ji. The 5,188-square-foot unit fetched $12,380 per square foot.

Adrian To, residential director at Swire Properties, Opus’ developer, said interest in high-end residential properties continues to grow in the city, but the limited land supply is causing some buyers to be more “prudent.”

1-Tour-Odeon-Tower-Penthouse-Monaco

Rendering of Tour Odéon, where a 35,500-square-foot unit is reportedly asking around $400 million

Monaco
Tour Odéon penthouse
$400 million (listing)

Tour Odéon is one of Monaco’s newest and most buzz-worthy developments, largely due to its five-story Sky Penthouse. Though the 35,500-square-foot unit hasn’t been publicly listed, the asking price is widely reported to be in the ballpark of $400 million.   

The building, which is located in the hills of La Rousse, is billed as the principality’s tallest, rising 558 feet. The penthouse is one of 70 units in the high-rise and features a private terrace, dance floor, private pool and waterslide.

Though Monte Carlo — home to the famed Casino Monte Carlo, as well as luxury hotels, villas and apartments — is widely considered the most prestigious district in the tiny sovereign state, new luxury construction is largely springing up elsewhere, due to a shortage of land, according to Savills. Tour Odéon is Monaco’s first new skyscraper in decades.

Monaco, of course, is a magnet for the world’s wealthy, who are lured not just by its location on the French Riviera, yachting, motor sports and gambling culture, but also by the lack of an income tax.

Edward de Mallet Morgan, an associate with Knight Frank, said Monaco has an aging housing stock but is seeing “very high-class developments” enter the market.

“Given Monaco is so small and the demand for property is so high, the price per square foot is more expensive than New York City,” he said. “Generally speaking, the quality of buildings and services in the main market in Monaco will not be as good as New York City, but at the top end of the market, the quality of interiors and finishings rival the best in the world.”

The principality topped Knight Frank’s ranking of priciest locations by square foot: $1 million there only buys 182.9 square feet. And with available property scarce, the competition is fierce.

“As soon as there’s a new development, people fight for them,” said Daniel Masnaghetti, managing director of John Taylor, a real estate firm that specializes in international luxury properties and works in Monaco.

Château_Louis_XIV-main

The Chateau Louis XIV, which is located just outside Paris, sold for $301 million in December.

Paris
Chateau Louis XIV in Louveciennes
$301 million (sale)

Let’s face it. You can’t get more luxurious than 17th-century Versailles.

In December, the Chateau Louis XIV sold for $301 million. That was the priciest residential sale in the world outside of Hong Kong. The 75,350-square-foot newly built mansion sits in a 56-acre park in Louveciennes, a Paris suburb. The home is meant to mirror the grandiose style of the Sun King himself, whose Palace of Versailles embodied the spirit of absolutist power.

The property was sold to an unknown Middle Eastern buyer, according to Bloomberg News.

Christie’s International, which helped broker the deal, declined to comment on the property and the sale.

But what is known is that the home has two master suites, several guest rooms and reception halls, a wine cellar, a movie theater and, most notably, an underground aquarium.

The mansion was built over three years, starting in 2008, by a company called Cogemad. According to the developer’s website, it’s 15 minutes from the tony Le Triangle d’Or shopping and residential district in Paris.

The $301 million sale, however, is a rarity that likely won’t be replicated anytime soon, sources say.

Marie-Hélène Lundgreen, director at Belles Demeures de France, the international department of the Christie’s affiliate Daniel FEAU, said that very few luxury sales in Paris exceed 10 million euros — or roughly $11 million. That’s because the most exclusive location, which overlooks the city center, does not welcome new development. In Paris, unlike New York City these days, the most luxurious properties aren’t modern glass fortresses but historic 18th- and 19th- century buildings, featuring minutely detailed moldings and fireplaces.

“It’s a scarcity market. We don’t build anymore in Paris,” she said. “It’s not a market for overpriced properties at the moment.”

one-hyde-park-night

One Hyde Park, where a unit sold for $237 million in 2014.

London
One Hyde Park
$237 million (sale)

The city’s current record residential sale is at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge. The duplex penthouse in the ultraluxury building made headlines in 2014 when it sold for $237 million. Consider it an oldie but goodie on TRD’s list.

The 86-unit building, which was developed by the Candy brothers, is regarded as one of London’s most exclusive — and secretive, since so few of the owners there are publicly known.

In New York, of course, some of the priciest condos, such as One57, the Plaza and the Time Warner Center, are known for having foreign buyers who don’t use their apartments as primary residences. The same is true in London — but to an even greater extent.

Indeed, there’s long been the perception that homes in some of London’s poshest neighborhoods — such as Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Hyde Park, Kensington and Belgravia — are largely owned by people who don’t live there year-round.

“London is a passing-through city,” said Royce Pinkwater, of the Manhattan-based brokerage Pinkwater Select, which specializes in international luxury real estate. “Many people use it as a base.”

Pinkwater referred to London as the “initiator and dominator in turnkey properties” because as a secondary market, super high-end buyers don’t want to spend time renovating newly acquired property.

A September 2015 report by Savills noted that housing prices in prime London have been hit hard by higher property taxes that were imposed on home sales in December 2014. The changes have tempered price growth in the upper tiers of London’s market, according to the report. That has left the ultraluxury market, at least in the short-term, “fully taxed” and with buyers who are “slower to commit.”   

In terms of record-asking prices, a mansion in Knightsbridge initially made headlines in 2012 when it hit the market for a record $453 million. Three years later, the owners of the 45-bedroom room property, 2-8a Rutland Gate, reportedly received a bid for $593 million, but rather than selling they ended up auctioning off the mansion’s contents — reportedly to make way for luxury apartments. The home was not officially on the market last month but is being watched by real estate insiders.

According to Knight Frank, $1 million buys 226 square feet in the city.

playboy-mansion

The Playboy Mansion was listed last month for $200 million.

Los Angeles
Playboy Mansion
$200 million (listing)

For $200 million, you can live like a playboy.

The iconic Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles — part of the city’s so-called Platinum Triangle — hit the market last month for $200 million. The Tudor-style mansion spans nearly 20,000 square feet and is being billed by the listing’s broker as “ultra-private” and the “ultimate setting for large-scale entertaining.”

But there’s a pretty big catch: The buyer needs to be comfortable with a (hopefully) robed Hugh Hefner loafing around. A condition of the sale is that the Playboy Magazine founder and octogenarian party boy can still work and live at the residence, several news organizations reported.

Aside from the permanent guest, the property features a home theater, a wine cellar, a separate game house, a swimming pool with a “cave-like grotto” and a four-bedroom guesthouse, according to its listing. The five-acre property also has a zoo license.

According to the listing service Point2 Homes, the property is the most expensive home for sale in the United States.

But if developer and film producer Nile Niami has his way, a mansion in nearby Bel Air could usurp it. Niami is building a more than 100,000-square-foot residence — made up of one 74,000-square-foot main house and three smaller ones — that he plans to eventually list for $500 million, according to Bloomberg.

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