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10 of the biggest houses in the world

If we wanted to just make a list of the biggest residences in the world, it would be full of palaces. The Sultan of Brunei’s 2,152,782-square-foot, marble-laden palace would be at the top of the list.

For our list of the world’s largest homes, we tried to stick with privately owned homes, so we excluded Oheka Castle, Arden House, and some other Vanderbilt and Hearst homes, as many are now hotels, research facilities, or the property of a university or parks department, respectively. Read on to see just what kind of real estate big money can buy.

1. Antilia — Mumbai, India

Image of Antilia
A.Savin/Wikimedia Commons

With a net worth in the billions, Mukesh Ambani is currently the richest person in India and on earth. The oil and gas tycoon can 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 feet of 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.

2. Biltmore Estate — Asheville, North Carolina

If you had to guess where shipping and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and his heirs built some of their 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. 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.

3. Safra Mansion — Sao Paulo, Brazil

Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress

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) and features two swimming pools (one 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 $22.8 billion, making him number 39 on its billionaire list.

4. 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.

5. 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 were 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, an arcade, a gym, a 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 October 2019, the home mansion is still under construction, but should be completed within the next year or two.

6. 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 Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, To Catch a Thief.

7. The One — Bel Air, California

Exclusive Look At LA's $500 Million Mega-House | CNBC

When asked if some of the spec giga-mansions promising buyers 100,000 square feet of space would challenge Versailles’s supremacy, Jackie Siegel said they don’t count because it’s not all under one roof. She’s not wrong. Film producer and real estate developer Nile Niami has boasted about a 100,000-square-foot Bel Air, California, property, The One, but it’s actually a 73,934-square-foot main house and some adjacent buildings that make up that total figure. Not that nearly 74,000 is anything to scoff at, of course.

The prospective owner will be able to boast about being neighbors with Jennifer Aniston — for $500,000,000. They can also roam around the house’s 20 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms, go bowling, or feed the jellyfish that live in the ceiling. Despite several appeals, the city denied letting Niami add a third kitchen he hoped to have for catered events. It seems the neighbors aren’t keen on having a “party house” in the area. The new owner will just have to limit the guest list when inviting people to sample the wine room or chill in the night club.

8. Taohuayuan — Suzhou, China

Sometimes a lake view is not enough, and that’s when you have to spring for a swimming pool and pond, too. The landscaping is modeled on the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These ancient gardens, which incorporate stones, water, and plants, are in the same city as Taohuayuan, a 72,441-square-foot mansion on Dushu Lake.

With 32 bathrooms and bedrooms and a wine cellar, the interior decor is a mix of modern and more classic design. When it went on sale in 2016, it was mainland China’s most expensive house, according to Mansion Global. With the $154 million (1 billion yuan) price came views of Suzhou’s skyline, the privacy of its island setting, and curved roofs and other traditional architectural elements.

9. Pensmore — Highlandville, Missouri

Most over-the-top mansions are built for aesthetics, but Steven Huff constructed Pensmore for science. Thanks to the concrete Huff created, it’s supposed to withstand bombs, earthquakes, and whatever else the Ozarks throw at it. The astrophysicist and former CIA officer wanted to use the 13-bedroom, 14-bathroom fortress as a testing ground for energy-efficient and disaster-resistant building technology, according to a slightly over-the-top Travel Channel video.

CIA plus astrophysicist plus disaster-proof equals conspiracy theories, and there are plenty of those swirling around Pensmore. Its future is uncertain, though, because Huff filed a lawsuit against the construction company that built the 72,000-square-foot lab/bunker/family home. At the time, Huff wanted it torn down and restarted from scratch.

10. Fair Field — Sagaponack, New York

In the Hamptons, there are Real Housewives homes — 4,239 square feet for $2.5 million — and then there are billionaires’ homes. Take industrialist Ira Rennert’s Fair Field. At 64,389 square feet, it just squeaked onto this list. With the other structures on the 63-acre property, it’s a 110,000-square-foot estate. Some of the amenities include two bowling alleys, squash quarts, a $150,000 hot tub, a theater with seating for 164, and an indoor basketball court.

Right from the start, neighbors were grumpy about the sprawling estate, and adding helicopters to the mix didn’t help matters. Then Rennert was accused of funneling money from a mining company to pay for Fair Field, which is valued at $248,477,200. He was ordered to pay $213 million in March of 2017. Back in the late 1990s, when Rennert was constructing Fair Field, Kurt Vonnegut was very perturbed, inspiring James Brady to fictionalize the story in The House that Ate the Hamptons.

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Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
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