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What The Whales Bought: 2012's Most Expensive Ski Homes

While the rest of the housing market slowly recovered this past year, 2012 was a banner year for ski town real estate, with purchases from heavyweight whales like hedge fund star John Paulson and software exec Dave Duffield breaking sale price records from Aspen to Tahoe. Along with the sale of what was formerly America's most expensive home on the market, whales picked up some ridiculous figures of acreage and square footage along with a host of wild amenities in North America's toniest ski towns.

? The real architectural prize in this list is the 10,360 square foot Pa Gomo estate, built on 35 acres of secluded wilderness outside Telluride by health care executive Stuart Ross and his wife. Featuring distinct "pods" built mostly from the 50,000 square foot of rock quarried within the property, Pa Gomo also features a circulating creek navigating around the estate's massive outdoor patio, which connects to an enormous summer kitchen space... which then opens up further into the house via floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. While the Ross's lost a bit of money on their investment and the house closed in auction this summer for a "mere" $13.5 million (compared to its $20.5 mil starting price), it still holds the crown of the biggest sale in Telluride in five years.

? This 7,100 square foot contemporary Osprey Estate in the Nevada tax haven of Incline Village on the Northeast corner of Lake Tahoe belonged to the late inventor Jerome Lemelson and has a guest house on its own parcel, a library and conference center on-site, and a private pier with 670 feet of private beach to boot. It sold in early December to a development company owned by David Duffield, the cofounder of Workday and Peoplesoft, who already owns millions in Incline Village real estate. He'll fit in well with a software-heavy neighborhood counting Pierre Omidyar, founder of EBay, and Andreas Bechtolsheim, cofounder of Sun Microsystems.

? The heaviest inter-whale transaction came this summer when Saudi prince and former U.S. ambassador Bandar bin Sultan sold his 128-acre, 56,000 square foot Aspen behemoth to hedge fund manager John Paulson for $49 million. The property in Aspen's Starwood neighborhood had formerly held the title of the country's highest list price when it went on the market for an insane $135,000,000 in 2006. The main house packs 15 bedrooms, 16 baths, a barber room and 24-karat gold bathroom fixtures, while other amenities include an indoor pool, horse stables, mechanical shop, car wash, and its own water treatment plant.

· Modern Telluride Marel Deserves a Delicious Second Look [Curbed Ski]
· 680 Hawn lane, Telluride, CO [Concierge Auctions]
· Lake Tahoe home sales surge in 2012 [Reno Gazette-Journal]
· Prince Sells 90-acre Aspen Ranch to Hedge Funder for $49M [Curbed National]
· Billionaire John Paulson Confirms $49 Million Purchase Of Hala Ranch [Forbes]