The rich get richer as the market gets bullish. But when the market slumps, even the wealthy have to pay a price. Since the recent recession hit the world, several billionaires have decided to give up their lavish mansions or yachts.
David Siegel’s $75 million mansion
Siegel, the chief executive officer of Orlando-based Westgate Resorts, announced the sale of his unfurnished 90,000-square-foot mansion in July last year. The property in Windermere, Florida, has been listed for $75 million.
Buyers have an option of buying the mansion completed for an additional $25 million. Some of the highlights of this mansion, according to the Wall Street Journal, are 23 full bathrooms, a 6,000-square-foot master suite, a banquet kitchen plus 10 satellite kitchens, a 20-car garage, three pools, a two-storey wine cellar and a grand hall with a 30-foot stained-glass dome. Siegel currently lives in a 26,000-square-foot home in the nearby Isleworth community.
Paul Allen’s 303-foot yacht
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen advertised the sale of his 303-foot yacht, the Tatoosh, through Fraser Yachts last fall. It is designed with nine guest rooms and two staff cabins. It can accommodate 24 guests and 35 crew members. In addition to a swimming pool and a cinema, the yacht features two helicopter pads.
Allen, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last fall, was ranked by Forbes as the 37th richest person in the world, with a fortune of $13.5 billion. He has been lagging behind on the list since his failed investments in companies such as Charter Communications.
Patricia Kluge’s estate
The beneficiaries of billionaire husbands are not untouched by the harsh economy. Patricia Kluge, the divorcee of late American entrepreneur John Kluge, found herself with a $25 million foreclosed property in Charlottesville, Virginia, as she defaulted on three loan payments. This home was part of her divorce settlement in 1990, in addition to the $1.6 million she received every week. Bank of America bought the property for $15.3 million.
Kluge is not new to auctioning personal property. Last summer, her jewellery and furniture from the Virginia estate were auctioned by Sotheby’s, collecting more than $15 million. She also lost her winery at an auction in December 2010, for $19 million, after efforts to take the business to national and international markets failed.
Tom Siebel’s 62,000-acre cattle ranch
Software billionaire Tom Siebel recently made headlines for selling off his 62,000-acre Montana cattle ranch. The property was sold to Frac Tech Services, a Texas-based oil and gas well fracturing company. Though the price of the sale has not yet been revealed, the ranch was listed at $45 million early last year. Meanwhile, Siebel, along with his high-profile partners, is also raising money for a startup company, C3, which has already raised $30 million.
John Paul Getty III’s 12-bedroom home
The sale of John Paul Getty III’s 12-bedroom Irish home still hangs in the air, with no promising buyer in sight. Getty, who had been in poor health since 1981, recently died in England. The Gurthalougha House was bought by Getty for 1.27 million euros in 1998 for himself and his socialite mother, Gail Getty. The property, on the shores of Lough Derg near Ballinderry, County Tipperary, has been on the market since September 2010.
The bottom line
One of the key reasons for billionaires to sell off their assets during this time may be inflation, according to Richard A. Hogan, a managing director with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s Private Banking and Investment Group, San Francisco: “People start thinking strategically. They are looking at their collection and asking, ‘What are my risks?’ They are asking, ‘Do I really need it?’”