Amid a global pandemic, the property market has seen house price growth at inflation-busting levels not seen since 2007. It turns out the world's richest men and women are just like the rest of us, with the record for the world's most expensive property set to be broken in early 2022.
The 16th century Villa Aurora in the centre of Rome has a ceiling mural painted by Caravaggio and itself valued at €310 million. When it goes up for auction on January 18 bidding is expected to start at €471 million (or almost £400m). When the hammer drops, the villa would become the world’s most expensive home.
Its former owner was an Italian prince, Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, who died in 2018 setting off a lengthy inheritance dispute.
Thanks to its historic significance, the site is protected by the ministry of culture meaning the state could buy the property for the hammer price once a bid has been agreed. The winning bidder would have to spend an estimated €11m renovating the villa.
In London, the most expensive flat sale of the year to date was £111m splashed out on an apartment at One Hyde Park in the heart of Knightsbridge.
The flat was sold by Hasan Ismaik, former CEO of Dubai-based construction firm Arabtec Holdings, which went into liquidation last year, but its new owner has not been named.
Huge though this price tag undoubtedly is, it is likely to be blown out of the water when heiress Petra Ecclestone finds a buyer for her Chelsea house, on the market for £170m.
The Georgian mansion, just off the King’s Road, is in fact a combination of two historic homes bought by Ecclestone back in 2010 and then extended with a basement “wellness suite” and upper extensions.
It now measures a gargantuan 20,000 sq ft, or around 13 times the size of an average London semi. Little extras include a children’s soft play room, a fully appointed beauty salon, and a five-metre-long fish tank.
However even this superhouse can’t compare to the £205m spent this time last year by Hong Kong billionaire Cheung Chung-kiu on a 45-bedroom house on Rutland Gate, previously owned by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, of Saudi Arabia.
Already the most expensive home ever purchased in the UK (comfortably outdoing the £95m hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin spent on a house on Carlton Gardens the year before the pandemic) Cheung is now planning a renovation project which will inflate the property to 62,000 sq ft.
The work, due to start later this year, will cost an estimated £100m, but the resulting home could end up worth up to £500m.
In Scotland you would need a budget of £11.3m to buy the spectacular 1,528 acre Careston estate, near Brechin, Angus.
The estate, newly on sale with Savills, comes with a fairytale 16th-century castle as its centrepiece and would be the perfect place to celebrate Hogmanay.
Alternatively, if you prefer things a little more rustic, estate agents Denisons is selling Britain’s most expensive beach hut in Christchurch Harbour, Dorset.
The 13ft by 10 ft timber cabin has spectacular beach views, but which lacks running water, a toilet, or electricity, has a price tag of £575,000.
In north America multi million pound homes have been flying off the shelves during 2021.
Fashion mogul Serge Azria recently sold the Malibu compound he bought in 2013 for $41m (just under £30m) for a massive $177m (almost £130m) – the biggest property deal in California’s history.
Azria, the CEO and creative director for brands including Equipment and Joie, and his wife Florence, have spent the last eight years renovating the 10,000sq ft main house. Its buyer has not been named.
Ski property has been in huge demand during the pandemic, on both sides of the Atlantic, and in June Patrick Dovigi, a former professional hockey player who is now the CEO of a waste management company, spent $72.5m (around £53m) on a house and guesthouse in Aspen, North America’s answer to Courchevel or Gstaad.
But even this massive deal was outdone in the Hamptons, where wealthy New Yorkers traditionally escape the city for weekends by the sea.
The Fordune estate, built by Henry Ford II (grandson of the Ford founder) in the late 1950s, was sold last month for $105m (almost £77m).
For that its new owners – an offshore company based in the Cayman Islands – will get almost a quarter of a mile of private seafront and 42 acres of gardens and grounds.
Inside, many of the original Ford-era interiors remain – Henry Ford II trawled impoverished European estates when building the house and filled it with imported French parquet floors and wood panelling, Italian marble fireplaces, and antique bathroom fittings.
It would be reasonable to assume that the previous owner of the estate, Brenda Earl, a former partner at equity fund Zweig-Dimenna, is dancing for joy at shifting the estate for around five times the $21.8 (almost £16m) she paid for it in 2002.
However, the fact that she first listed it four years ago for $175m (circa £130m) does take a little shine off this record deal.