The celebs backing big real estate projects

From Shaq to David Beckman, the big names going beyond buying lavish homes

From left: Bono, David Beckham and Taylor Swift
From left: Bono, David Beckham and Taylor Swift

Celebrities from Jennifer Aniston to Sting to Oprah Winfrey regularly make headlines when they buy or sell lavish homes, but a handful of actors, athletes and public figures have taken their real estate investing to the next level.

Retired all-star Yankee Alex Rodriguez — who was featured on The Real Deal’s cover last month — is a case in point. His firm, A-Rod Corp., has purchased more than 15,000 apartments nationwide since 2003 and is currently partnering with New York developer Ofer Yardeni and residential powerbroker Adam Modlin to buy $1 billion worth of multifamily buildings in Manhattan.

While A-Rod’s may be an extreme case, there are plenty of others getting in the game. Among the athletes who have put money into developing or rehabbing commercial real estate are former NFL defensive end Elvis Dumervil (who played for the Broncos and the Ravens), retired Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning and former Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Rodriguez said his initial reason for getting involved in real estate (early in his baseball career) was a fear that he’d blow his fortune and go bankrupt. He said athletes, in particular, need to be concerned about protecting their wealth.

“I think you have a responsibility to yourself and a fiduciary duty to your family,” he said. “Real estate, with the right partner, is a great hedge to the W2 income you earn as an athlete. While your career earnings potential downgrades, your real estate [assets] appreciate.”

But it’s not just athletes. Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is currently preparing to open an eco-resort in Belize, and U2 frontman Bono has reportedly invested in a company called Nude Estates, which owned a stake in a shopping mall in Lithuania.

Meanwhile, some, such as Taylor Swift, just have an extensive collection of houses. The pop star reportedly owns homes in California, New York, Tennessee and Rhode Island worth more than $80 million combined.

Here’s a closer look at some celebrities and their real estate investments.

Shaquille O’Neal

7′ 1″

Shaquille O’Neal’s height. The basketball legend is investing in his hometown of Newark via a 33-story, 370-unit tower, which is slated to be the city’s largest residential project. He’s teaming up with Boraie Development — who he also partnered with on a 168-unit Newark tower — on the $150 million project, dubbed “The House that Shaq Built.” It’s unclear how tall the ceilings will be, but Shaq is taking the penthouse, so the assumption is high.


The number of acres on the property where rapper Kanye West had planned to build a Star Wars-themed low-income housing community in Calabasas, California. But West didn’t secure permits for several of the dome-like structures, and the project may now be on hold.


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A rough tally of what comedian Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi have spent on eight California homes since 2004. The couple’s biggest flip seems to have been the Brody House in L.A., which they bought for $39.88 million in 2014 and then sold months later to Napster founder Sean Parker for $55 million.


The number of bungalows and estate villas that DiCaprio is planning at his eco-resort, which is slated to open in 2020 on the 104-acre private island he bought in Belize in 2015. DiCaprio is partnering with the head of New York real estate and wellness company Delos — whose board he’s a member of — on the project.

Queen Latifah


The cost of a 76-unit residential project Queen Latifah is investing in — also in her hometown of Newark. The singer, actor and producer is co-president of the Blue Sugar Corporation, which is partnering with New Jersey-based GonSosa Development on the project. It will include 16 affordable rental units and 20 three-family townhomes with market-rate units.


The number of units at a planned affordable housing project in North Miami that longtime Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem is investing in. Haslem Housing Venture, which was formed in 2017, promotes low-income housing in Miami-Dade County. The power forward is partnering with Magellan Housing on the project.


The number of companies actor and serial entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher and his business partner have reportedly invested in. One of the most high-profile is Airbnb, the apartment-sharing unicorn they backed in 2011. The two have also invested in Uber, Spotify, Pinterest, Warby Parker and others.


The number of seats slated for David Beckham’s new soccer stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Beckham, who owns Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF, is aiming for the team to play its first two seasons there while constructing a bigger stadium in Miami. Then, the Fort Lauderdale complex will be used as a training facility. The retired soccer legend’s partners on the project include SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Marcelo Claure.

Sources: The Architect’s Newspaper,, the Sun Sentinel, New York Post, TMZ, Forbes, Business Insider, Trulia, New York Times, TRD