Most Outrageous Homes

Indian mogul Mukesh Ambani’s new billion-dollar bungalow is not the first piece of residential real estate to make jaws drop around the world. Here are 10 more crazy-cool (and duly expensive) houses.

MUMBAI DREAM

When Mukesh Ambani, the fourth-richest man in the world, is home, he can be a homebody for the rest of his life. His new place in Mumbai, dubbed Antilia, is 27 stories tall, though because each floor is twice the height of a normal one, it looks closer to 60 stories from the outside. It has a 168-car garage, more than 110,000 square feet of floor space, and a permanent 600-person staff. Estimated at more than $1 billion, it’s probably the world’s most expensive home.

Pacific Coast News

“XANADU”

Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, tried to be understated when building his Washington state house by building much of it below ground. But he still paid more than $1 million in property taxes last year. It’s built mostly from salvaged Douglas fir and glass, with 48,000 square feet of living space on a 224,000-square-foot lot. But what makes Gates’ home stand apart is its mind-boggling technology. Occupants wear pins that transmit their preferences on everything from music to room temperature, and the house, running Microsoft OS of course, tailors itself to fit its inhabitants’ tastes. High-def digital displays pop up with occupants’ favorite art as they walk by, and whatever show they want to watch can follow them from room to room.

HEARST CASTLE

Julia Morgan was not only a talented architect; she was also apparently a master up-seller. Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst originally contacted her about building “ a little something” on his central California property because he was tired of camping. Over the 30 years of construction, “a little something” turned into a massive estate with 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens and terraces, a private zoo, and massive pool surrounded by first-century Roman columns.

AP Photo

AARON SPELLING’S “MANOR”

Like so many of the shows he created, Aaron Spelling’s Los Angeles home, dubbed “the Manor,” is sprawling, larger than life and glitzy. In 1983, the creator of such shows as Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, and 90210 bought Bing Crosby’s Bel Air mansion and bulldozed it, erecting a 56,500-square-foot, 123-room mansion. It’s the largest house in Los Angeles County and contains a doll museum built for his daughter, Tori, an indoor skating rink, specialized flower-cutting and gift-wrapping rooms, and an entire floor of closets. When Aaron Spelling’s widow put the house up for sale in 2009, it was the most expensive home on the U.S. market, at $150 million .

REAL-LIFE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON

A sleek, modern version of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, this concrete and steel house shoots out of the forest overlooking the beach in Ubatuba, a popular tourist destination in the south of São Paulo, Brazil. It has a pool on the roof in case you don’t want to walk down the 50-degree incline to the beach below.

“THREE PONDS”

Location, location, location: New York magazine’s Steven Gaines speculates that the main reason the massive Three Ponds estate in Bridgehampton hasn’t sold, despite having a private 18-hole golf course and pro shop, is that it’s on the wrong side of Montauk Highway. And that’s after they dropped the price to a mere $68 million.

“LEAF HOUSE”

The weather is so perfect outside Rio de Janeiro that the Leaf House hardly needs walls. By using verandas instead of hallways, the architects at Mareines + Patalano let the house be cooled naturally by the trade winds that pass from room to room. And not only does the banana-leaf shaped roof reflect the house’s surroundings and provide shade, but it harvests rainwater.

GLASS HOUSE

For those who value privacy but still want to live in a glass house, formodesign has created a house that hangs above the sea off the northwest coast of the Greek island Zante. Accurately called House on the Water, it’s accessible only by water; the foundation is driven into the seabed and cantilevers out over the floating dock. It’s also environmentally friendly, with water recycling and tidal and solar energy systems.

AP Photo

ALMOST DISNEYWORLD

David Siegel’s decision to one-up a palace synonymous with absolute monarchy and opulent displays of wealth ended about how one might expect it to end: out of money, unfinished, and up for sale. The 90,000-square-foot house in Orlando, Florida, was to contain 13 bedrooms (including a 6,000-square-foot master bedroom with a rotating dais for the bed), 23 full bathrooms, a banquet kitchen, and a 30-foot stained-glass dome. But the burst of the real estate bubble hit Siegel’s resort company hard, and now he’s selling the palace for $75 million, with $25 million in construction left to be done.

PA Photos / Landov

ONE HYDE PARK

The penthouse at One Hyde Park, Knightsbride, is the most expensive property in England, and at the time of its sale for $220 million, it was the most expensive piece of residential real estate in the world (surpassed shortly afterward by Edmond Safra’s $750 million villa on the French Riviera). Aside from the view and round-the-clock room service, most of the perks sound like something out of a Bond film: bulletproof windows, a panic room, retinal scanners, SAS-trained security, and an underground tunnel to the neighboring Mandarin Hotel.