Palm Beach Ranks As America’s Top Resi Trophy Market

Palm Beach Ranks As America’s Top Resi Trophy Market

As awards season marches on, celebrities are parading across our screens with their hard-won loot –– little golden gramophones, globes and figurines. The ultra wealthy — the Larry Ellisons, Jeff Bezos and Ken Griffins of the world — have their own trophies they compete for. But the prizes don’t fit in a display case. 

It’s trophy real estate, a tier of ultra luxury residential properties that trade for $50 million or more. The market for these eight- and nine-figure estates has exploded in the past decade. New York City, the Hamptons, Malibu, Los Angeles, Aspen and Miami have all seen a sudden and profound transformation in the value of the most coveted homes. But nowhere in the U.S. compares to Palm Beach.

“It’s this niche market that has consistently one of the highest concentrations of what we would call trophy properties,” said Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller. 

The 16-mile-long barrier island is a fraction of the size of its trophy market peers, with fewer than 2,500 single-family homes. Yet, six homes sold for $50 million or more last year, with Florida’s two most expensive home sales of 2023 on the island.

Currently, 13 listings are each asking over $50 million. Two agents represent a majority of these listings, Christian Angle of Christian Angle Real Estate, and Lawrence Moens of Lawrence A. Moens Associates. Angle’s trophy listings total $252.8 million, and Moens’ total $191.4 million. Neither agent responded to requests to comment for this story. 

As the housing market is broadly underperforming, activity in this ultra luxury market may seem shocking to some.

“I guess the strength of the super prime markets has possibly taken people by surprise,” said Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s global head of research. “Wealth creation hasn’t stopped in the last 12 months. There’s lots of people with new fortunes who’ve been wanting to invest and get into these markets.”

Trophy buyers also aren’t tethered to volatility in interest rates or the stock market like other homebuyers. They’re no strangers to astronomical expenses, either, agents say.

“They may have a piece of art on their wall worth $50 [million] to $100 million,” said Corcoran agent Shelly Newman, who has a $150 million listing for 1980 South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach. 

Winter is Palm Beach’s busiest season, when its wealthy residents return to the tropical climate. Many come prepared to shop for real estate, and this year more trophies are on the market than anywhere else in the U.S. The island’s most expensive listing is one of the priciest in the country, 2.3 oceanfront vacant acres with an asking price of $200 million. Cosmetics heir William Lauder put the land on the market after buying late Rush Limbaugh’s oceanfront teardown for $155 million last year. 

Palm Beach has always been a hub for the rich and powerful, but it’s been remade in the post-pandemic world. Among American trophy markets, experts say the island’s boom is unmatched.

“I can’t think of anywhere except Dubai that’s seen the same level of transformation as the Palm Beach market,” Bailey said.

The reasons vary. Agents say luxury buyers like that the island is safe, that it’s a tax haven, and that it has a tropical climate with all the trappings of upper-crust life –– designer shops, fine dining and storied private clubs. The island’s historic role as an epicenter of American high society doesn’t hurt either.  

Buyers flocking to the island now, though, aren’t all from that world. Douglas Elliman agent Chris Leavitt, who along with Corcoran’s Suzanne Frisbie has the $187.5 million listing for Tarpon Island, said that more people from a broader range of industries and backgrounds are coming than ever before.

“Palm Beach is attracting a wider net of worldwide industry heads,” Leavitt said. “Sometimes, you’re like, wait, they’re coming?

Selling the island’s luxury real estate to newcomers has its challenges, with agents often having to educate buyers on not just the property, but Palm Beach itself. 

“They don’t necessarily know where they are,” Leavitt said. “It is really important to have your facts straight at all times.”

The influx of outsiders has created some tension with the old guard, as captured by C.Z. Guest’s great-niece Daisy Prince in a recent Vanity Fair piece. Tarpon Island developer Todd Glaser said the antics portrayed in the story showed Palm Beach isn’t all stuffy old fogeys like people might think.

“Someone was having sex in the bathroom,” he said, referring to an episode at the Carriage House, a private dining club. “That hasn’t happened in Palm Beach since what’s his name –– since Frank Sinatra was there.”

Glaser said after it was published, he got a call from a wealthy Californian who read the story and wanted to tour Tarpon. 

While outside interest is growing, the trophy market in Palm Beach has also been bolstered by re-investment from current residents, often in the form of upgrading their island homes. For example, luxury car dealer Michael Cantanucci paid a record $170 million for an oceanfront estate in April, and sold his smaller non-waterfront home for $32.4 million in July. Designer Tom Ford dropped a record $51 million on a non-waterfront compound in December of 2022, then swapped it out for a megamansion in May, in a deal valued over $100 million. 

It may be these buyers’ confidence in Palm Beach — or they’re just not shy about their wealth these days, Glaser said. 

“They don’t care anymore,” he said. “They don’t care about the public perception of what they’re buying.”

For those shopping, here are the 13 trophies up for sale in Palm Beach this season:

$200M | 1063-1071 North Ocean Boulevard | Seller: William Lauder

Lauder, son of late cosmetics mogul Estée Lauder, is asking $200 million for two oceanfront vacant parcels spanning 2.3 acres, with 360 feet of waterfront. He bought the sites in a pair of deals totaling $135.4 million in 2020 and 2021, records show. Jim McCann of Premier Estate Properties has the listing. He did not respond to a request for comment for this story. 

$187.5M | 10 Tarpon Isle | Sellers: Todd Glaser and partners

10 Tarpon Island (The Corcoran Group, Getty)

Glaser and his partners bought the 2.3-acre man-made Tarpon Island for $85 million in 2021, and following an extensive renovation, listed it for $218 million in 2022. After a “summer break” from the market, Glaser relisted the island with Leavitt and Frisbie in November. The mansion was designed by Howard Majors in 1930. Originally 12,000 square feet, the developers expanded it to nearly 24,000 square feet, with 11 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and seven half-bathrooms. The property has two pools, a dock, lighted tennis court, cold plunge, steam room, sauna, salon parlor, massage room, gym and catering kitchen. 

$150M | 1980 South Ocean Boulevard | Seller: Nathan Silverstein

Palm Beach Ranks As America’s Top Resi Trophy Market
1980 South Ocean (Living Proof Photography, Getty)

Real estate investor and lawyer Nathan Silverstein listed 2.3 undeveloped acres at the end of Billionaires Row for $150 million. Silverstein, who was one of the five owners of the Flatiron Building that sold at auction for $161 million in May, has held the ocean-to-lake estate since 1966, records show. Newman has the listing, which first hit the market in March of 2022, Redfin shows. 

$77.9M | 1610 North Ocean Boulevard | Seller: Bryan Mattson

Angle has the $77.9 million listing for 1610 North Ocean Boulevard, a waterfront 0.9-acre property that faces the Palm Beach Inlet. Records show hedge funder Bryan Mattson homesteaded the 8,100-square-foot mansion, which a trust named for the address bought for $25.5 million in 2019. Built in 2018, the house has five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two half-bathrooms, a pool and dock. It also has a library, gym and staff kitchen, the listing shows.

$74.5M | 965 North Ocean Boulevard | Seller: Brian K. Stock

Brian K. Stock, CEO of Naples-based Stock Development, is seeking to sell the 1.2 vacant oceanfront acres at 965 North Ocean Boulevard, three years after buying the property for $34.2 million. Moens has the $74.5 million listing. The property spans 150 feet of oceanfront, and hit the market in April, shows. 

$60M | 101 Jungle Road | Sellers: Estate of Gerald and Elaine Schuster

The estate of the late Gerald and Elaine Schuster is asking $60 million for the couple’s oceanfront mansion. Angle is listing the property. Gerald Schuster was the founder and longtime CEO of Continental Wingate, the Newton, Massachusetts-based real estate investment and development firm now known as the Wingate Companies. The Schusters were longtime boosters and friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Built in 1955 on 0.9 acres, their Jungle Road home spans 10,000 square feet, with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms, according to property records. The Schusters bought it for $7.7 million in 2001, records show. It spans 200 feet of oceanfront, according to the listing.

$60M | 315 Chapel Hill Road | Seller: Estate of William Flaherty

The estate of William Flaherty tapped Angle to list the waterfront house at 315 Chapel Hill Road for $60 million. Flaherty, who died last year, founded the Horsehead Corporation, now known as Pittsburg-based American Zinc Recycling. Flaherty bought the Chapel Hill Road house for $1 million in 1990, records show. Built in 1987 on 0.8 acres, the property includes a 5,600-square-foot main house with four bedrooms, six bathrooms and one half-bathroom, and a 3,300-square-foot guest house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, according to records and the listing. It spans 200 feet along the Intracoastal Waterway, the listing shows. 

$59M | 200 South Ocean Boulevard | Sellers: David and Becky Gochman

David and Becky Gochman listed their oceanfront house for $59 million earlier this month with Jim McCann of Premier Estate Properties. David Gochman sold his family’s sporting goods empire, Academy Sports & Outdoors, to the private equity firm KKR for $2.1 billion in 2011, according to Forbes. He founded Palm Beach-based Inclenberg Investments in 2012. The Gochmans bought the South Ocean Boulevard house for $15.4 million in 2014, records show. They built a new house on the 0.9-acre property in 2018. It spans 5,800 square feet, with six bedrooms and five bathrooms. It also has a pool.

$57.9M | 200 Via Palma | Seller: Jeanne Siegel

Jeanne Siegel, widow of late media mogul and billionaire Herbert Siegel, listed her lakefront Palm Beach mansion with Moens for $57.9 million. The Siegels bought it for $29.9 million in 2015, records show. Herbert Siegel died last year, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion, Bloomberg reported. The 10,100-square-foot mansion was built in 1952 on 0.9 acres. It has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and one half-bathroom. The home also has a pool and a dock. 

$57.9M | 1620 South Ocean Boulevard | Seller: Anthony Lomangino 

Anthony and Lynda Lomangino are asking $57.9 million for the oceanfront mansion they bought for $12.7 million in 2019. In 1999, Anthony Lomangino founded Southern Waste Systems, a South Florida garbage and recycling business, which was acquired by Waste Management in 2015. Built in 2006 on 0.7 acres, the 8,700-square-foot mansion includes six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, one half-bathroom and a pool. Moens has the listing.

$55M | 940 North Lake Way | Seller: Harvey Jones

Nvidia board member Harvey Jones is asking $55 million for a 0.8-acre lakefront lot. Jones bought the property for $50 million in July and demolished the existing house. Todd Peter of Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing.  

$54.9M | 710 South County Road | Seller: Joan Granlund

Joan Granlund, ex-wife of billionaire Bill Koch, is looking to sell the former home of late Palm Beach style icon Lilly Pulitzer for $54.9 million. Angle has the listing. Granlund bought the house from Pulitzer’s children in 2013 for $8.2 million, records show. She renovated the house in 2014. Built in 1983 on 1.3 acres, the non-waterfront 7,200-square-foot house includes five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, one half-bathroom, a pool and tennis court, according to records. 

$52.9M | 690 Island Drive | Seller: Diana Barrett

On Everglades Island, Diana Barrett listed her lakefront Marion Sims Wyeth-designed house for $52.9 million. The house, built in 1949 on 0.8 acres, spans 6,300 square feet, with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, one half-bathroom and a pool, records show. The couple’s son, Christopher Anthony Vila of PB Realty Advisors, is the listing agent. Barrett is a former professor at Harvard Business School and the wife of Bob Vila, star of the renovation show “This Old Home.” Separately, the couple bought a 4,300-square-foot house for $12.5 million in Palm Beach in December. 

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