If you're looking for textbook examples of gross expenditures, look no further than the backyards of the rich and the famous. Here pools are tiled in 24-karat gold, lazy rivers slink through backyard water parks, and swans glide across fake lagoons. Celebrities tally up insane pool amenities while CEOs tally up Hawaiian acreage by the thousands. Here now, a cross-country tour of some of the most extravagant outdoor features. It's a wild ride.
↑ Miami's Casa Casuarina, the wildly extravagant mansion designed and bedazzled by late fashion designer Gianni Versace was rife with ludicrous amenities—including a "naughty room" with six gold shower heads—though the crown jewel was its pool. It's 54 feet long, and tiled with more than a million mosaic pieces, some of which are gilded in 24-karat gold. Speaking of mosaics, the courtyard also boasts the Versace Medusa emblem done up in tile. (This insignia also covers the drains on all of the home's balconies.)
The pool and courtyard were part of Versace's south wing extension, which he built on land once occupied by the Rever Hotel, which he bought for $3.7M in 1993; preservationists took legal issue with him demolishing the Art Deco structure, though Versace ultimately won out.
↑ When Canadian singer Celine Dion listed her custom Southern Florida megalomansion (first for $72.5M, though the price has since dropped), listing details revealed a water park's worth of outdoor amenities, including 415 feet of beach frontage, three pools (one of which abuts the ocean), a lazy river, water slides, and "watergun stations."
Considering eye-popping affairs of her estate up in Canada—inlaid marble floors! dungeons! a helipad!—it really shouldn't be such a shocker that this place, which she had built in 2010, is saturated in similarly opulent fixtures. This is, after all, the woman who wore a "seven-pound tiara composed of 2,000 Austrian crystals" on her wedding day.
↑ In an interview with Megaupload gazillionaire (and "narcissist par excellence," as 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon once described) Kim Dotcom, the world got a tour of his multimillion-dollar monster-mansion in Coatesville, New Zealand. Dotcom, who hacked his way to millionaire status when he was 18, describes his spread as a "golden cage," an appropriate term considering his home is inordinately extravagant and that Dotcom is hanging above enough legal hot water that leaving New Zealand would mean getting boiled alive by the U.S. Department of Justice, which says Dotcom's Megaupload cost the film and TV industry some $500M in revenue.
His "cage" includes 60 acres (perusable by golf cart), whereon Dotcom feeds his swans and looks after his fake giraffe and lagoons. "I was inspired by the James Bond movies, where some of the characters had private islands [and] super tankers converted into private yachts," he said.
↑ If Vogue's epithet for Yahoo's Marissa Mayer ("the CEO of the moment") is not enough to gain her entrance into the exclusive club of Tech Titans, her profligate residential amenities must surely clinch the deal. In the backyard of her house in Palo Alto, Calif., she has a "two-story, miniaturized model of Palo Alto's Peninsula Creamery, a local diner where Stanford students go for milk shakes"—a playhouse so elaborate, it had to be dropped in the yard by forklift. Mayer and her husband bought the playhouse at a benefit auction for $33K for their son, Macallister, who at the time was not even 1.
↑ Despite the fact that architect Richard Landry, noted chateau sire to the stars and favorite among Saudi princes and Patriots quarterbacks alike, calls his design for actor Mark Wahlberg "a good traditional family house with no craziness to it," the Beverly Hills palace is anything but humble.
Take, for example, its outdoor amenities: there's a 2,200-square-foot outdoor loggia with coffered ceilings, limestone floors and a fireplace, for one. It also boasts a manmade rock formation in the backyard is a pool with a "diving rock" and waterfall.
↑ Besides the regular pool and spa, Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon's oasis in Brentwood, Calif., also comes with an outdoor fireplace, playground and sunken trampoline (that's it in the bottom-left corner). Sound like fun? Well, Witherspoon's actually selling the spread, tucked as it is in what Curbed LA describes as the "celeb-adored gated community of Brentwood Circle," for $10.5M.
↑ "I'm obsessed with, like, residential pools," rapper Drake once told Rolling Stone. "One of my goals in life is to have the biggest residential pool on the planet." While he may have a way's to go until he becomes the owner of the world's largest, the pool area of his YOLO Estate (named after the viral, sometimes-ironic acronym he coined for "you only live once") is suitably insane.
Drake fell in love with the estate's 80-foot water slide years before he bought the estate. It even "was the desktop image on my computer years before I bought it." (He found his YOLO Estate by doing a web search for "world's craziest residential pools.") The grotto oasis includes flatscreen TVs, flame-belching iron torches, and stone elk statues. There's a giraffe statue near the driveway, and elsewhere a championship tennis court, volleyball court, equestrian ring, and six stables. Drake doesn't have any horses.
↑ In its grandiloquent feature, Architectural Digest describes each "picturesque but not pompous" detail of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen's "French chateau via the Pacific Coast Highway." As far as outdoor amenities go, the house (which just got sold to rapper-turned-headphones-mogul Dr. Dre) boasts a rather plebeian driveway that "leads over a pond to a motor court paved in reclaimed cobblestones and then to a stone bridge spanning a koi-stocked moat and an unassuming pool "laid out with two straight sides and one long, sinuous edge that helps give the impression of a natural lake, particularly in the early-morning and late-afternoon light."
↑ Oracle co-founder and property-nabbing billionaire Larry Ellison was once sobrequet'd the "nation's most avid trophy-home buyer," which makes sense considering he not only owns a mansion on Lake Tahoe and easily over $100M in Malibu property, but also 98 percent of the Hawaiian island Lanai. Ellison reportedly spent around $500M the 141-square-mile "pineapple island."
So, really, with some 88,000 Hawaiian acres—that includes two resorts, two golf courses, a stable, some houses (other than the one he already owns on Lanai), and commercial buildings—Ellison wins the contest for most absurd outdoor amenities. Hands down.