The ultrahigh end of the residential market established new price benchmarks in 2022 as the world’s wealthiest individuals continued to seek out trophy property acquisitions as a safe and secure vehicle for building, maintaining, growing, and enjoying wealth. We examine where the top trophy home sales are taking place and who are the buyers behind these acquisitions.
Globally, the top-end of the luxury real estate market exhibited a strong number of high-priced sales, demonstrating continued confidence in the enduring value of ultraprime property. Despite recessionary fears, geopolitical volatility, and a financial market slowdown, the world’s wealthiest continued to seek out trophy homes, and a significant number of residential sales records were shattered across the globe in 2022.
A study of the world’s 100 highest priced real estate transactions from January–November 2022, revealed fascinating insights about the residential acquisitions and preferences of the world’s wealthiest individuals—including how and where they are choosing to live, work and play. Of these top 100 sales, 58% were in major global cities, and just over a third were in prized jet-set vacation destinations.
Prices at the apex of the property market are typically driven by the location, uniqueness, rarity, size, provenance, design, and quality of residential offering, as well as by fundamental supply and demand conditions that determine what the market will bear. Further analysis of the top 25 sales showed they ranged in price from US $72 million to $173 million and were clustered in 11 regions across the globe. South Florida recorded the highest number of sales in this tranche in 2022, followed by Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
The aggregate value of the top 25 deals exceeded US $2.57 billion and involved at least six members of the Forbes 400 list or their estates according to public reports. Except for a US $120 million property purchase by Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel (#380 on the Forbes 400, approximately 4.3% of his estimated US $2.8 billion net worth), Forbes 400 members who were involved with 2022’s top residential deals spent no more than 1% of their net worth on these trophy home sales.
Crowning the most expensive real estate sales list in 2022 was Florida’s largest-ever residential sale: a 22-acre ocean-to-lake estate that sold for US $173 million. Known as “Gemini,” the south of Palm Beach Manalapan compound included part of Bird Island. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison (#4 on the Forbes 400, US $110.4 billion net worth) bought the property in June. The seller was a trust associated with Netscape co-founder James Clark (#359 on the Forbes 400, US $2.8 billion net worth). The transaction equated to a mere 0.17% of Ellison’s net worth.
Further south, Miami cracked the US $100 million mark for the first time with the US $106.9 million sale of the Arsht Estate— two homes set on four acres in Biscayne Bay. Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin (#21 on the Forbes 400, US $32.4 billion net worth) bought the waterfront property in a deal that comprised approximately 0.35% of Griffin’s net worth.
Businesswoman and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht reportedly purchased the property for US $4 million in 1996. The home sold in September, capturing a US $100 million-plus gain for Arsht over 26 years of ownership. With this transaction, buyer Griffin bested the previous Miami sales record, which he also set: a US $75 million Star Island home in Biscayne Bay purchased in 2021.
Across the pond in London, Indian gas businessman Ajay Kalsi paid nearly £130 (US $158.7 million) for stately 1820s row houses that overlook Regent’s Park. It was a rare sale located in London’s prime West End within the chic Marylebone district.
London represented three of 2022’s top 25 residential sales. In addition to the Kalsi purchase, an apartment sold at 5 Stanhope Gate for £60 million (US $74.4 million) in late May, and a 12-bedroom house sold for £90 million (US $109 million) in central London’s Belgravia.
Four Hong Kong residences were counted among the top 25 sales of 2022. They topped out at HKD $900 million (US $114.9 million) for a unit in the mountainous residential area of Jardine’s Lookout in the Wan Chai District. Also significant in Hong Kong’s exclusive Shouson Hill neighborhood, breaking a sales record for that area in June—a HKD $870 million (US $111 million) sale of a 8,032-square-foot home.
Forbes Global Properties members mastered several north of US $50 million deals. Topping that list was the US $126 million sale of Bel Air’s messianically monikered “The One.” With a hefty bankruptcy auction fee, the price maxed out at US $141 million, breaking the record for an auction sale. Stuart Vetterick of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland co-represented the buyer, Fashion Nova founder Richard Saghian—a fan of the home’s architect, Paul McLean. The 105,000-square-foot behemoth has 12 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms, panoramic ocean and mountain views, five pools, a 10,000-square-foot sky deck, a nightclub, and a wellness spa, among other amusements.
Forbes Global Properties members mastered several north of US $50 million deals. Topping that list was the US $126 million sale of Bel Air’s messianically monikered “The One.”
In Aspen, Colorado, Liz Leeds of Slifer Smith & Frampton closed on one of the area’s all-time top deals: a US $60 million 16,700 square-foot 7-bedroom estate. “We got a full-price offer,” Leeds said last June. Leeds also facilitated her client’s US $51 million buy of a nearby property (Aspen Park), both properties closing within a day of each other.
In the United Arab Emirates, Lina Allaoa and Kianoush Darban of Driven Properties mastered the highest price per square foot ever paid for a property in Dubai. At about US $3,440 per square foot, the sale was for a home in the Bulgari Resort and Residences, located on Jumeirah Bay Island.
Several other luxury real estate markets surpassed all-time local record prices in 2022, including:
• An A$80 million (US $62.2 million) home in Melbourne’s suburb of Toorak
• A US $21 million home in Houston, Texas, modeled after an English estate
• A US $28.1 million Scottsdale, Arizona property, pocketed by an international buyer
• A US $70 million sale in the Hamptons, capturing the record for a nonwaterfront home
• A US $37 million estate in Nantucket with adjacent parcels purchased by John W. Henry (#271 on the Forbes 400, US $4 billion net worth), owner and publisher of The Boston Globe, and owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Well-priced trophy homes continued to command strong prices in the world’s top destinations. These record-breaking sales are testament to the enduring popularity of luxury real estate as a safe storage of wealth and a preferred investment vehicle of global UHNWIs.