Billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, today the head of his own private equity shop, Colony Capital, was named the "world's greatest real estate investor" on the cover of Fortune magazine in 2007. With a reputation for tackling "distressed" properties that other investors tend to shy away from, Barrack sunk $35M into Michael Jackson's famed Neverland Ranch—bailing the King of Pop out of his substantial debts—and a host of hotel properties around the world. He's most recently stepped up investment in the Middle East, despite enduring unrest. In 2003, Colony Capital acquired the casual-chic Sardinian resort of Costa Smeralda, and now Barrack splits his time between the $3,000-a-night hotel (above)— perfecting his tan and regularly jetting off to other far-flung investments—and several other homes around the globe. Now, he might not really qualify as a celebrity, but he sure rubs shoulders with 'em: he and Rob Lowe are partners in the media investment fund that purchased Miramax Studios. Barrack also has a tendency for the occasional gaffe, like a leaked Colony memo detailing his run-in with the tween novel Twilight.
? For his visits to NYC, Barrack keeps an apartment on the 14th floor of 100 Central Park South, a pre-war building fronting on Central Park that was redeveloped as condos by Donald Trump. In fact, Barrack shares the floor with Trump's son, Eric. We couldn't hunt down pictures of his apartment, but here are some snapped in the building's penthouse, one floor above, currently on the market for $38M.
? In Santa Barbara, Calif., Barrack beds down in this sprawling hacienda, complete with swimming pool and immaculate formal gardens. Roughly a mile from the Pacific, the house is home to Barrack's youngest son and wife during the school year. In the summers, they join him full-time in Sardinia.
? If the sun and sand in Santa Barbara prove too stressful, the real estate guru retires to his 1,200-acre ranch near Santa Ynez, Calif., not far from MJ's "Neverland." Piocho Ranch is equipped with extensive polo facilities, and Barrack and his son, TJ, regularly compete alongside hired professionals from Argentina. The estate is also home to the Happy Canyon Vineyards (above), renowned producers of California Bordeaux.
? Barrack's passion for wine is evident on the other side of the pond too, where Colony purchased the Bordeaux winery Château Lascombes. Of course, this investment was mostly aimed at the vineyards, but the gorgeous ivy-covered mansion is a pretty cushy place to stop in and check on the grapes.
· Contrarian Adding Bets in Mideast [NYT]
· Monetizing the Celebrity Meltdown [NY Mag]
· Cala di Volpi [official site]
· Bella and Edward Who? Real-Estate Tycoon Deconstructs "Twilight" [WSJ]
· 100 Central Park South [Stribling]
· Tom Barrack's House [Virtual Globetrotting]
· Happy Canyon Vineyard [official site]
· Chateau Lascombes [official site]