Home & Garden
ANTILIA — MUMBAI, INDIA : digitaltrends.com
With a net worth of roughly $49 billion, Mukesh Ambani was name the richest person in India in 2018. He’s also one of the wealthiest humans on Earth. The oil and gas tycoon can also boast about owning the world’s largest and most expensive private residence. The $2 billion home known as Antilia — because, as you’ll notice, naming your home is apparently a thing for the uber-wealthy — is a towering, 27-story skyscraper situated in downtown Mumbai.
Ambani worked with architecture firms Perkins + Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates to build his personal skyscraper. Standing 550-feet high and hosting 400,000 square feetof living space, the entire project took more than four years to complete. To prevent repeating architectural elements, no two floors are identical in either floor plan or building material. The overall structure is based on Vaastu, an Indian architectural philosophy that’s similar to the Chinese Feng shui tradition. Nine elevators carry individuals throughout the massive complex, and the top floors of Antilia offer panoramic views of the Arabian Sea.
BILTMORE ESTATE — ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
If you had to guess where shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and his heirs built some of many residences, you’d probably say New York City or Long Island. And you’d be right. Asheville, North Carolina probably wouldn’t immediately spring to mind unless you’re familiar with the Biltmore Estate. Completed in 1895, the chateau-inspired main house has 250 rooms. Still owned by the family, the estate’s 8,000 acres now hold a winery farm, stables, and gardens. (The Devil in the White City readers will recognize the name of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed the gardens, in addition to Central Park and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.) Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil opened the home to the public in 1930. While you can’t stay in one of the house’s 34 bedrooms, there is a hotel, inn, and cottage on the grounds that accept guests.
With its 43 bathrooms, three kitchens, 65 fireplaces, banquet hall, 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, 23,000-book library, and bowling alley, it’s a palatial structure that came outfitted with modern conveniences for the era: electricity, central plumbing and heating, fire alarms, and elevators. The 178,926 square-foot-home is considered the largest private residence in the U.S.
SAFRA MANSION — SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
What can we tell you about this mansion owned by a notoriously private banking family, the Safras? Not much, except it’s ginormous and is a bit reminiscent of Villa Leopolda, a French Riviera mansion that once belonged to his brother Edmond. (Actually number six on this list.) Surrounded by a high wall, the 130-room house is about 10,868 square meters (35,565 square feet), according to Brazilian newspaper Folha. There are two pools on the property, including one that’s indoors.
The largest private residence in Sao Paulo, it’s located in the Morumbi neighborhood, next door to the city’s second-biggest home. Though it’s been the site of several Safra family members’ weddings, there don’t seem to be many photos of the home online. The Safra family is as sprawling as its mansion, and they have pricey real estate all over the globe. In 2014, Joseph bought the Gherkin, a London skyscraper, for more than $990 million (£700 million). Jacob M. Safra, the son of Joseph’s late brother Mosie, purchased Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s childhood home for more than $25 million in 2017. According to Forbes, Joseph Safra is worth $23.5 billion, making him number 36 on its billionaire list.
WITANHURST LONDON — ENGLAND
Technically, Buckingham Palace is the largest residence in London. It has roughly 830,000 square feet of living space, 775 rooms, and several corgis. Because it’s also the home of a queen, we’re skipping it in favor of the city’s second-largest abode. Designed by architect George Hubbard to incorporate part of the Georgian-style Parkfield estate that previously stood on the property, the newly named Witanhurst was built between 1913 and 1920. A former resident who had grown up using the trapeze in Parkland’s gymnasium, once referred to the remodeled home as “the present monster.” Over the next century, Witanhurst became dilapidated after decades of neglect, despite serving as the setting for the BBC show Fame Academy in the early 2000s.
If Lady Greig thought the 40,000-square-foot home was monstrous before, there’s no telling what she’d make of Witanhurst’s most recent renovation. With the addition of two basements — housing a 70-foot swimming pool, movie theater, massage parlor, a sauna, gym, and parking spaces — the living space will add up to 90,000 square feet. Just who bought the mansion for £50 million in 2008 was a mystery, until 2015, when The New Yorker reported it was Russian billionaire Andrey Guryev.
VERSAILLES — WINDERMERE, FLORIDA
Getting the gem-encrusted floor of your dreams can be a rocky road. The ups and downs of Jacqueline and David Siegel’s mega-mansion was chronicled in the 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles. Back then it seemed like the couple might lose their still-under-construction behemoth. But in 2017, they were reportedly attempting to hire Bravo’s Flipping Out crew to decorate every inch of the suburban palace’s 90,000 square feet. Jeff Lewis turned the job down.
The home has 32 bathrooms, 11 kitchens, 14 bedrooms, arcade, gym, salon, and a movie theater. There’s also space for 30 cars in the garage and six pools to choose from. On the Bravo show, Jackie said she scrapped plans for an indoor ice skating rink because she thought a roller rink would be more versatile. As of January 2019, the home mansion is still under construction, but should be completed within the next year or two.
VILLA LEOPOLDA — THE FRENCH RIVIERA
Constructed more than a century ago, Villa Leopolda is brimming with history as well as extravagance. The 50-acre estate situated in the French Riviera was originally constructed by King Leopold II of Belgium, and was later bestowed upon one of his mistresses as a gift. Inside there are 11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, as well as a commercial greenhouse.
The home was used as a military hospital during World War I and has made appearances in several films over the years, including The Red Shoes and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, To Catch a Thief.