A while back I posted about the mega-house that basketball star Lebron James is building in Ohio. Well, Lebron forgive me, for I knew not what I was blogging about. What looked like an case of X-treme housing is nothing compared to the maisonettes catalogued in a recent Business Week article.
There were a couple of predictable American candidates for housing overstatements.
Donald Trump is selling - isn't he always? - Maison de L'Amitié in Palm Beach. I'm not sure if this is the same place that used to be called Mar a Lago after one of his ex-wives, but I'm guessing it is. The house is 62,000 square feet, and the asking price is $125 million, or a cool $2K per foot. House of Friendship, all right.
Bill Gates is also on the over-the-top list. His dream house is only 50,000 square feet, but comes with an underwater entrance to an outdoor terrace. Plus a "private library with an oculus". Okay, I took Latin so guessed the "eye" part, but the dictionary didn't give me a lot of help here, but I'm guessing that it's something like the dome in a planetarium. It must be something extraordinary to pump the house's value up to $125 million. (And you didn't think that Bill Gate and Donald Trump had all that much in common.) In any case, I'm guessing that Gates put in every techie, nerdie thing that he could think of. And I'm also guessing that his wife, who seems eminently sensible and modest, pretty much loathes this place and is embarrassed by it. Maybe there's a family wing, like in the White House, that's comfortable and tasteful - and where you can tell where your kids are without electronic surveillance.
I never heard of Ira Rennert, but he's got a place in Sagoponeck, New York, with 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, and its own private power plant. I would think so. Here's a question: who do you put in 29 bedrooms? Here's another one: if you've only got 29 bedrooms, why do you need 39 bathrooms? Can't anybody share?
It is, of course, not just Americans who are living large.
Qatar's Foreign Minister's London digs include parking for 115 cars, 24 hour room service (from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is connected), a floor to ceiling refrigerator, bulletproof windows, and a panic room. I'd panic, too, if I lived in a place with parking for 115 guests, just thinking of feeding all of them. Guess that's what the floor-to-ceiling fridge is for.
There are a bunch of other places described, and nary a one is a fixer-upper.
But the take-the-cake award goes to a "home" that's going up in Mumbai for a cool $1 billion. Mukesh Ambani's twenty-seven floor house includes 5 floors for parking Ambani's 168 cars, and features:
An entertainment floor including a 50-person movie theater; three floors of terrace gardens including an interpretation of the hanging gardens of Babylon; two floors with facilities for health and fitness; a two-floor guest apartment; four floors of living space; three rooftop helipads; one floor for air traffic control.
Three helipads? Air traffic controllers?
Do his kids take helicopters to school?
If you have the dollars or pounds or Euros or rupees or petrodollars, well, you're certainly entitled to pour it into the place where you hang your hat(s), tiaras, or whatever it is that these folks hang. Or have hung for them.
But there is really something off-putting about the idea of 50,000 and 60,000 square foot homes in a world where a lot of people would be happy to have a floor that wasn't dirt and a sanitary latrine, let alone 39 bathrooms.
I guess that when these folks go to build their dream houses, they just keep saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if..." And since there's no monetary constraint, "wouldn't it be nice" slides right into "it will be nice."
But doesn't it ever occur to these folks, as they're putting together the ultimate in punch list, to answer an occasional "wouldn't it be nice..." question, with an answer more along the lines of, "No, actually. It wouldn't be nice. It would be wretched excess."