Taylor Swift has been busy. When the country music diva released her fourth studio album in October, it sold 1.2 million copies in the first week. Pile on a tour and hefty endorsement deals with Diet Coke, Sony and Covergirl, and Nashville’s country-pop princess grossed $55 million in the 12 months ending in June. She’s been investing a good chunk of the proceeds in real estate, snapping up multimillion-dollar estates from coast to coast with cold hard cash.
In April, Swift dropped an estimated $17 million for a sprawling Rhode Island mansion called High Watch. Perched on five acres in tony Watch Hill, the Cape Cod traditional encompasses 11,000 square feet of living space including seven bedrooms and nine baths, and boasts 700 feet of beach frontage.
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She bought the property weeks after flipping an estate in Massachusetts’ Hyannis Port, a Cape Cod address just down the way from ex-boyfriend Connor Kennedy’s family compound. Bought in November for $4.8 million, she sold it for $5.7 million, making a quick profit of almost a million dollars.
Then there’s the 2,800-square-foot Cape Cod style house in Beverly Hills, Calif., that Swift picked up in 2012 for just under $4 million. In Nashville, Tenn., her home base, she owns a penthouse condo and the Northumberland Estate, just outside the city, which she reportedly bought for her parents.
Sound like a lot of house hopping? For mere mortals maybe, but Swift, who ranks fifth on FORBES’ annual Celebrity 100 list, is just doing what comes naturally for the world’s most powerful celebrities.
[More from Forbes: The World’s 100 Most Powerful Celebrities]
Every year Forbes releases its Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of America’s top stars as measured by earnings and fame. With the help of Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Zillow and others, we’ve dug through listings and property records to uncover where these actors, singers, athletes and public personalities bed down for the night. We included homes bought and sold in the past year as well as a few long-term nests. Perhaps not surprisingly, most are located in the Los Angeles area.
The hottest neighborhoods among the Tinseltown elite are Beverly Hills’ Trousdale Estates and Hollywood Hills’ Bird Streets, two side-by-side communities perched high in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. “The reason that they are so much in demand right now is the view,” says Sally Forster Jones, an L.A.-based Coldwell Banker Previews International real estate agent who has helped broker deals for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Candy Spelling, Jessica Biel and Arnold Schwarznegger. “Celebrities, particularly, really want a drop-dead view and they will go to any lengths to get it. Price is less material than having the view.”
Actress Jennifer Aniston (No. 64 on the Celeb 100) has been a fan of the area for years. In 2011, she renovated and sold a Trousdale Estates abode known as Ohana for $35 million. In 2012, after scooping up a sprawling A. Quincy Jones-designed Bel Air estate for $21 million, she rented out another Trousdale Estates home for a reported $40,000 per month while remodeling the new purchase. Between her Ohana sale and the Bel Air purchase, the A-lister is also said to have briefly rented an Oriole Drive spread, according to the Real Estalker. (A flock of avian-named roads in the area has earned it the nickname of the Bird Streets.)
Other stars nestled in these hills include Celebrity 100 listmakers Ellen DeGeneres (No. 10) and Leonardo DiCaprio (No. 21). Degeneres and wife Portia de Rossi picked up a Trousdale Estates spread last year after selling a sprawling Beverly Hills compound to television host Ryan Seacrest (No. 26) for $37 million. DiCaprio has owned a place in the Bird Streets since his breakout role in the movie Titanic. DiCaprio also owns a penthouse condo in Manhattan’s Battery Park City and two homes in Malibu, including a three-structure compound in celebrity-studded Malibu Colony that he’s trying to sell for $18.9 million.
Certain aesthetics and amenities are must-haves among the rich and famous. Modern architecture has been the most popular, says Forster Jones. Huge windows, sleek lines and open floor plans that incorporate indoor-outdoor living are ideal. Screening rooms are a must as are exercise rooms.
But no features are more prized – and certainly more necessary -- than those centered around privacy. In Los Angeles, that means estates sitting at the end of long gated driveways, tucked behind hedgerows and trees, preferably in exclusive communities guarded by security officers. High-tech security systems are necessary, as the recently released movie The Bling Ring (based on true events in which teenagers looted celebrity homes) so aptly illustrates.
In New York City, it means an apartment in a highly exclusive building boasting a small number of units (meaning less neighbors), top-notch security, and discreet entrances, be it via an on-premises parking garage or a private elevator. In Midtown Manhattan, addresses like 15 Central Park West, the Time Warner Center, and new up-and-coming mega towers One57 and 432 Park Ave have lured celebrity residents. Downtown in the West Village, arguably the most sought-after neighborhood among A-listers, townhouses on quiet tree-lined streets have been popular and ritzy boutique developments like up-and-coming 150 Charles Street have attracted a number of famous buyers.
“Celebrities need several things to make their existence more pleasurable, starting with an on-site garage or a private driveway,” says Dennis Mangone, a managing director for Douglas Elliman Real Estate who works in New York and Miami. Mangone has brokered deals for celebrities ranging from Beyonce (No. 4) to Rosie O’Donnell, for whom he just sold a Miami Star island estate for $16.5 million and recently listed a $11 million New York penthouse. “When you look at the townhouse Madonna bought several years ago, she was only looking at houses with garages because she can’t get into a car in the street,” he adds.
Madonna, indeed. The pop icon, No. 5 on FORBES’ list, has been busily trimming her property portfolio this year. Having plunked down $32.5 million in 2009 on a triple-wide Georgian-style townhouse – with two garages – on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she listed her duplex co-op apartment in Manhattan’s Harperley Hall for $23.5 million in November. It sold last month for a discounted $16 million. On the West Coast, she’s also offloading a Beverly Hills estate for $22.5 million. After quietly shopping the 1.25-acre French country estate as a so-called pocket listing, the 17,000-square-foot home officially debuted on the Multiple Listing Services earlier this year.
Here are the top 10:
1. Oprah Winfrey
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 1
Pictured Home: Promised Land, Montecito, Calif.
Sale Price: $50 million in 2001
Current Market Value: $88 million
The media billionaire's 23,000-square-foot Georgian-style manse sits on more than 40 acres, boasting a tea house, more than 600 rose bushes and an upscale outhouse.
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 5
Pictured Home: French country-Style Estate, Beverly Hills, Calif.
List Price: $22.5 million
Listed With: Sotheby's International Realty
The pop powerhouse put her Beverly Hills compound on the Multiple Listing Services in January after reportedly shopping it quietly as a pocket listing. The property spans 1.25 acres and has a 17,000-square foot home with nine bedrooms, multiple offices, staff quarters, a two-story dining room, a gym and a resort-style pool. She recently sold a duplex co-op apartment in Manhattan's Harperly Hall building for $16 million, a 32% discount off of the initial $23.5 million asking price. She currently resides in a triple-wide Georgian townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side purchased for $32.5 million in 2009.
3. Taylor Swift
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 6
Pictured Home: Oceanfront Mansion, Watch Hill, R.I.
Sale Price: estimated $17 million in 2013
The country-pop princess has kept busy with real estate. In April news broke that Swift had purchased a Cape Cod-style Rhode Island beach home, spanning five acres and 700 feet of beachfront, all-cash. Earlier this year she flipped another beach estate in Hyannis Port, Mass. for about $5.7 million -- a decent profit on the $4.8 million she shelled out for the Cape Cod retreat in November. Other properties include a Cape Cod-style home in Beverly Hills, Calif. that the songstress bought in 2012 for $4 million and two properties in Nashville, Tenn. area.
4. Jon Bon Jovi
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 7 (for the entire Bon Jovi Band)
Pictured Home: New Museum Penthouse, New York, N.Y.
List Price: $42 million
Listed With: Corcoran Group
The rock star purchased his Manhattan penthouse, located in SoHo, in 2007 and reportedly poured millions into renovations. The 7,452-square foot spread has five bedrooms, five and a half baths, wood-burning fireplaces, multiple terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows offering 360-degree views of the city.
5. Justin Bieber
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 9
Home: Estates of the Oaks Mansion, Calabasas, Calif.
Sale Price: $6.5 million in 2012
The pop star known as the Biebs snapped up this six bed, seven bath Hacienda-style home last year. Spanning 9,200 feet of living space, the home is located in the Estates of the Oaks of Calabasas, tucked behind two sets of gates, in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
6. Ellen DeGeneres
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 10
Pictured Home: Tuscan-style Villa, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Last List Price: $26.5 million
Talk show host DeGeneres and her wife Portia De Rossi have been buying and selling real estate throughout Southern California. After selling their Beverly Hills compound to fellow Celebrity 100 listmaker Ryan Seacrest in 2012, the couple bought a $12 million 4,100-square foot Malibu home remodeled by Brad Pitt. They purchased another Beverly Hills home --a Hal-Levitt-designed Midcentury Modern in Trousdale Estates -- last May. So far in 2013, they have listed a Beverly Hills penthouse condo for $899,000 and recently acquired a 13-acre Santa Barbara estate that had been listed for $26.5 million. The TV stars also own an equestrian estate in Hidden Valley, Calif.
7. Jennifer Lopez
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 12
Pictured Home: Hamptons Estate, Water Mill, N.Y.
Sales Price: $10 million
The actress-turned-songstress picked up this Hamptons beach house in May after sparking house hunting rumors in the area for the better part of two years. The three-acre estate has an 8,500-square foot Traditional with eight bedrooms, seven-and-a-half baths, a theater, a sauna, a steam room, a pool with pool house, and covered porches. Lopez also owns two homes in Glen Head, N.Y. and a sprawling compound in Hidden Hills, Calif., according to Zillow.
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 13
Pictured Home: Modern Mansion, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Sales Price: $12 million
The pop diva snapped up a Los Angeles-area 11,000-square foot manse in December that has seven bedrooms, nine baths, media rooms, a sun deck, a pool, a 6,000-square-foot garden, and an outdoor barbecue area. The new purchase came on the heels of a short sale tied to a Beverly Hills home that she had scooped up in 2009 only to have it flood and suffer extensive flood damage.
9. Lebron James
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 16
Pictured Home: Coconut Grove Mansion, Miami, Fla.
Sales Price: $9 million in 2010
The basketball star's12,178-square foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion touts six bedrooms, eight and a half baths, a wine cellar, a home theater and a back yard with infinity pool and dockage for two 60-foot yachts. He purchased it after deciding to join the Miami Heat NBA team in 2010.
10. Katy Perry
Celebrity 100 Rank: No. 18
Pictured Home: Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif.
List Price: $6.5 million
Listed With: Teles Properties Beverly Hills
After hanging onto the Hollywood Hills abode she purchased in 2011 with ex-husband Russell Brand post-divorce, the pop star is selling it for $6.5 million. In May the songstress dropped $11.2 million on several neighboring properties in Hollywood Hills West that together tout two swimming pools, two guesthouses and four acres of land.
See more Homes Of The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities.
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