The Strangest Homes of the Ultra Rich


The rich and the famous live a very different life from the rest of us, and one of the best ways to understand this is to take a look at their homes. Normal people with normal bank accounts tend to have pretty ordinary apartments and houses, but when you reach a certain amount of wealth and name recognition, things can easily go overboard. Very, very overboard. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the strangest homes of the ultra rich.

10. Bill Gates’ hyper high tech mansion

Bill Gates has spent a large chunk of his life as either one of the world’s richest men or the absolute richest one, depending on when you look at the Forbes list of billionaires. His house very much reflects this position. Xanadu 2.0 is a massive lakeside property in Medina, Washington, and its value in 2016 was over $127 million. 

While this is only a minuscule fraction of Gates’ fortune ($98 billion at the time of writing), it’s more than enough money to fill a mansion compound absolutely to the brim with all sorts of luxuries and technical details. The 66,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom dwelling was built from 500,000 board-feet of 500-year-old Douglas fir, and features amenities such as a 200-person reception hall, a home theater, a trampoline room, and a $30 million library that houses some incredibly valuable scriptures (and a hidden bar, just because). 

Xanadu 2.0 has been built to be eco-friendly, but this being Bill Gates, it’s also full of amazing technical details. Reportedly, every visitor receives a pin where they enter their preferred lighting and temperature, and the house changes them based on the room said person is in. There are hidden speakers that allow music to “follow you from room to room,” and the house is full of wall-mounted screens that can display the artworks of your choice. Even some of the plants near the mansion receive more care than the average Joe: It’s said that Gates particularly likes a maple tree that grows near the driveway, and as such, the lucky tree is set up with computer monitoring and automatic water pumps in case it gets too dry. 

9. Kanye West & Kim Kardashian West’s ultra-secure “monastery” house

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West are one of the most famous couples in the world, which has been problematic at times. After Kardashian was robbed in Paris in 2017, the two invested in some serious security, which combined with their design aesthetic makes their reportedly $60 million house seem pretty peculiar. 

The home’s aesthetic is all about sparseness, concrete, light colors, angles and arches, causing Kardashian to compare it to a “minimal monastery.” It’s a pretty secure one, too, seeing as Vogue writer Jonathan Van Meter has compared its safety measures to “layers of Pentagon-level security.” Apart from all the 24-hour security detail and safety measures for the entire family (including the children), the couple even have a manned security pod in their garage. 

8. Naomi Campbell and Vladislav Doronin’s spaceship house

Naomi Campbell’s success as a supermodel was truly out of this world, so maybe it’s only logical that when her boyfriend, Vladislav Doronin, commissioned a house for the pair, it looked like something straight out of Star Trek. The futuristic mansion is all glass, light-colored materials, strange angles and curvature, and its most prominent feature is a peculiar, 72-foot tower that looks a bit like a periscope. 

The interior of the house looked like something out of a science fiction movie, and its white, high-concept design made it seem like aliens are lurking behind all corners. To add to the spaceship effect, the tall central tower is a “private bedroom area” that allows unimpeded sights of the surrounding forest, making it seem like the structure is floating above the woods. Unfortunately for Campbell, the one-of-a-kind house was commissioned in 2012, so if she ever got to live there, it didn’t last for long, seeing as the pair split up in 2013.

7. Celine Dion’s water park mansion 

Celine Dion is a wonderfully talented singer with a great career, millions upon millions of sold albums, and a vast amount of hits. However, because one of her signature songs happens to be “My Heart Will Go On,” a.k.a. the theme song for Titanic, she’s always going to be at least somewhat associated with water.

Still, we have a feeling that Dion herself doesn’t mind that reputation too much, because she was too busy having fun in her giant Florida mansion with an actual water park. Yes, you read that right. Dion did the exact thing many people daydream of doing if they had access to that kind of cash, and equipped her property with a full-on water park with two water slides, two swimming pools and even a pretty impressive lazy river. Sure, the mansion itself is also pretty huge and neat, but let’s be honest, here: Nearly every rich person has a mansion. Only the cool ones have water parks. Or, rather, had. It appears that even Celine Dion can get enough of water, seeing as she sold the place for $28 million in 2017.

6. Robert Downey Jr. and the windmill house

Thanks to his long tenure as Tony “Iron Man” Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be pretty difficult to imagine Robert Downey Jr. living in anything other than a huge, high-tech mansion. Imagine our surprise, then, that when the actor bought a new place in 2017, it was actually a windmill cottage that was built way back in 1885. To be fair, the place is not an actual windmill, but a replica of an old windmill located in the Hamptons. Despite being a cottage, it’s not much of one, either, as its luxurious location, four acres of land and a total of 8,500 square feet of living space are enough to make it a mansion by almost anyone’s standards. 

The luxurious windmill — uh, cottage — features the main house, a studio and a guest house, along with the obligatory tennis court, swimming pool and garden areas. The windmill structure itself hosts a cool library and an office. 

5. Prince’s Paisley Park estate

Prince was no stranger to delightfully strange living accommodations. His Paisley Park complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota is a massive, 65,000-square-foot combination of home, office and studio that looks, well, exactly like you’d imagine a massive compound owned by Prince to look. Imagine cloud patterns on the walls, copious Prince-themed artwork and memorabilia, and the name-symbol from his “artist formerly known as” days adorning the floor of at least one major hall. 

Apart from all the amenities a recording artist could hope to have, the Paisley Park estate featured luxuries few others people could dare even dream of. There’s a private club called NPG Music Club, along with a giant concert hall and soundstage for Prince to rehearse for his tours … and to give exclusive concerts for the select few. The estate also included the famed Paisley Park vault, a climate-controlled hidden bank vault-style basement room that only Prince could access, and that contained (and probably still does) thousands and thousands of hours of unheard recordings.  

4. Leonardo DiCaprio’s luxury homes

There’s no question that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finer Hollywood actors of his generation, as he has built a fairly neat collection of impressive roles over the years. It turns out that he has a very similar approach to homes, seeing as his history with luxurious houses is reportedly a long and complex one. 

In 1994, DiCaprio purchased a large compound in Hollywood Hills from none other than Madonna, and four years later, he splurged on a small-ish, three-room bungalow in Carbon Beach, California. In 2008, he bought an apartment in New York City’s luxurious “Riverhouse, One Rockfeller Park” high-rise. The building has all sorts of cool features, from double-filtered air to round-the-clock concierge services and a yoga studio — and evidently, DiCaprio likes it so much that he also bought the apartment next door in 2014. At various points, he’s also had properties in Palm Springs and Malibu. 

However, perhaps the most impressive of DiCaprio’s various accommodation-themed projects is Blackadore Caye, an entire island off the coast of Belize, which the actor has been developing as a luxurious, yet eco-friendly resort. 

3. John Travolta’s “Jumbolair”

“Jumbolair” may sound like a supervillain’s headquarters, but it’s actually a very real compound in Florida … which, granted, could probably function very well as a supervillain lair. The gated area features a large mansion, a vast conference center, a swimming pool/bar area, a huge warehouse and hanger system, and 38 residential lots, along with the largest lighted runway in the entire country, which is big enough that it can accommodate a Boeing 737. The area originally belonged to the Vanderbilt family, but the more eccentric aspects of it (such as the runway) were built by a businessman named Arthur Jones. Jones used the compound to house his various planes, among other things. At one point, the area even acted as a shelter to orphaned African animals, housing numerous elephants, crocodiles, rhinos and even a gorilla.  

The most famous owner of the ‘lair is none other than John Travolta, who is both a famous movie star and a certified pilot. Unfortunately, it appears that he eventually fell out of love with the 550-acre complex, seeing as he put it up for sale in 2019. 

2. Warren Buffett’s home

Warren Buffett is one of the world’s richest people, but looking at his house, you’d never know that. Instead of a sprawling, eight-figure luxury mansion, the “Oracle of Omaha” chooses to live in the same house that he bought in 1958 for $31,500 ($276,700 in today’s money). The five-bedroom, 6,570-square-foot Omaha home is a pretty neat place, but far more middle-class than you’d expect from a guy of Buffett’s financial stature. 

Despite this, Buffett seems perfectly happy to remain where he lives, and even calls the house the “third-best investment he’s ever made,” due to its modern value of $652,619 (as of 2017). Of course, Buffett is still a powerful billionaire, so this humble abode features security systems such as cameras and fences.  

1. Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

And then there is Michael Jackson. 

Neverland Ranch is pretty much the ultimate in strange homes. The 2,700-acre area might be known as Sycamore Valley Ranch these days, but back when Jackson lived there, it featured a whole list of truly amazing features. A 50-seat movie theater? Check. A full-sized, “Disney-themed” train station? Absolutely. How about a whole amusement park, a bunch of exotic animals, a pool, a lake with a waterfall, a luxurious main mansion, and tons of well-maintained park areas? You got it!

The abuse allegations against Jackson and his late-life financial difficulties also impacted Neverland. In 2008, the singer negotiated a $23-million “ownership agreement” with an investment firm, which renovated and rebranded Neverland after Jackson’s death in 2009. They first attempted to sell the place for $100 million, but as of 2019, the place was still up for sale, and after multiple price cuts, its asking price was a rather more realistic $31 million.

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