Celebrity homes are big and beautiful with lush landscaping and big swimming pools. Game rooms and other amenities are often scattered throughout the premises to entertain guests and family. Some celebrity homes are upscale apartments. They prefer to live in a busy city in a high rise penthouse, overlooking the late night lights of a busy city. Either way, celebrities have the money, so they have the luxury. We offer many luxuries at a celebrities disposal when they decide to develop their home. Sometimes they have expensive art collections, in house recording studios, gold laced curtains, and in home movie theaters. Anything they want, they can usually get, and we mean anything.
When celebrities don't have to travel the globe, or "waste" time in 5-star hotels, they get to enjoy the lush comfort of home.
The irony of being a celebrity is that, even if you own a lot of beautiful homes, you probably don't get a chance to spend much time in any of them. Movie actors go on location, professional athletes go on the road, and rock stars go on tours, forcing them to be away from home for weeks or even months at a time.
After extended living out of hotel rooms--albeit pretty nice hotel rooms--the celebrities that make up the 2004 Forbes list of the Top 100 Celebrities can be forgiven for lavishing excessive amounts of money on their homes for the brief interludes when they are there. In some cases, celebrities may spend several million dollars just on the design of their homes, says Santa Monica, Calif.-based designer Monique Lafia, of Lafia/Arvin, who has had a fair number of celebrity clients.
"There usually isn't a budget," Lafia says. "They fall in love with things or the way something looks, and the budget isn't a concern."
Lafia/Arvin's design fees could easily cost between $50,000 (which might cover the renovation of one room) and $3 million. Lafia says the highest priority in celebrity homes right now is the media room, meant to use for private screenings.
"Everyone wants mini-theaters, and everything in the theater is always 'high-def' [high definition]," Lafia says. "Everything's high-def these days."
Celebrities don't just spend liberally on the design of their homes: They also spend significant sums of money on raw real estate, which may or may not last in their portfolio of homes. It's common for a celebrity to buy a home for several million dollars and upgrade a few years later to something more expensive. In comparison, according to the Federal Reserve, home ownership turnover for the average America is less than 10% annually.
Sometimes celebrities do decide to just stay put--in which case, they're like to gobble up the neighboring properties until their once-modest single-family home has been inflated into a gigantic estate, eating up several plots of land. Radio-show host Rush Limbaugh, for example, who made our list as the 20th most powerful celebrity, started collecting the real estate surrounding his West Palm Beach, Fla., house in 1996, and now he reportedly has amassed five lots, which collectively are appraised at upwards of $26 million.
Other celebrities start out big and live within their confines. Michael Jordan bought his Highland Park, Ill., mansion in 1999--his custom-built house is 25,000 square feet, with a basement theater and putting green--and he still hasn't grown out of it yet.
Every celebrity has different needs in different parts of the country. Billionaire Oprah Winfrey, who paid $50 million for an estate in Montecito, Calif., that wasn't even for sale, also has property in Hawaii and Chicago; until recently, she kept a home in Indiana as well, but it is currently on the market. When not on the road for her Fox (nyse: FOX - news - people ) television show The Simple Life, 23-year-old socialite Paris Hilton lives in a mansion while in California, but when in New York, she stays at her family's apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel--which is owned by Hilton Hotels (nyse: HLT - news - people ), the company founded by Paris' great-grandfather Conrad Hilton in 1925.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey can afford to keep real estate all over the country--and she does. The billionaire talk-show host has a 42-acre estate in Montecito, Calif.; she owns land in Maui, Hawaii; and she also lives in a duplex in Chicago. Oprah's Indiana country estate, appropriately called "The Farm," includes 160 acres of land, a five-bedroom 9,700-square-foot main residence, a guest house, a pool, a stable with ten box stalls, and an indoor and outdoor riding ring. The property is listed for $6.9 million with Jane Field of Koenig & Strey in Chicago.
Michael Jordan's suburban home in Highland Park (outside Chicago) may not have been so pleasant to live in over recent months. The former NBA player and his wife, Juanita, allege that several home-improvement manufacturers allowed moisture to get into their abode, which caused $2.6 million worth of mold damage. The house, which Jordan bought in 1999, is said to be more than 25,000 square feet, and it has a basement theater, a putting green and a basketball court. Naturally, the numeric address of the home is 23.
When word got out that film director Steven Spielberg might be divorcing his first wife Amy Irving in 1989, one of the first questions on most people's minds was whether Spielberg would sell his East Hampton, N.Y., house. He didn't. In fact, the property, which sits on exclusive Georgica Pond, is believed to be worth about $25 million. It had been an old barn, and although Spielberg invested heavily in renovating it, it still has stables on the property--most likely for his current wife, Kate Capshaw, who is a passionate equestrienne.
According to published reports, radio-show host Rush Limbaugh's Palm Beach estate started with the purchase of a modest $6.7 million oceanfront home in 1996. A couple of years later, he bought the northern property for $3.9 million, and in 1999 he bought a $1.2 million adjoining lot. Within months of that purchase, he bought another neighboring lot for less than a half-million dollars. Finally, he bought a neighboring property in 2000 for $2.3 million. Today his entire estate reportedly has an appraised value upwards of $26 million.
Although Julia Roberts' real estate transactions are closely monitored across the country (she is said to be building a massive "compound" in Malibu, Calif., and she also has several properties in Manhattan, including a Greenwich Village apartment listed for just under $5 million), one of her best-known properties may be her 51-acre Taos, N.M., ranch, where she married cameraman Danny Moder in a midnight ceremony on July 4, 2002.
Although former President Bill Clinton's offices are in Harlem, N.Y., he recently denied rumors that he's shopping for his own Manhattan apartment. Apparently, he prefers to commute back and forth to Chappaqua, N.Y., a small suburb in Westchester County that lies 35 miles north of Manhattan. In a town that has a population of less than 20,000, the Clintons are certainly conspicuous residents. Their home, a $1.7 million five-bedroom property, sits on 1.1 acres and is 5,200 square feet--presumably a wee bit of an adjustment after the White House.
On the first episode of the real estate-made billionaire's reality-TV show on NBC, The Apprentice, The Donald promises the winning team a chance to see the nicest apartment in New York, in one of the nicest buildings in the world--both of which happen to be his. Trump lives in the penthouse of one of his many eponymous high-rise buildings; the apartment, a triplex, is said to include 50 rooms.
The Hilton family--whose fortune was created by Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels--naturally live in style wherever they go. Their home in Southampton, N.Y., which is currently on the market for $6.3 million, has deeded ocean access and enough room for a tennis court. Though Paris Hilton, 23, spends much time in Los Angeles, when she's in Manhattan, she stays at her family's apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria (owned by Hilton Hotels), located on Park Avenue and founded in 1893.