For many years now people have assumed that mega mansions are mostly the preserve of Europe's rich, particularly properties such as Updown Court in Surrey, one of the world’s most opulent, expensive private homes ever to be built.
But news from the US this week has reminded us not to be so euro-elitist. For the true global epicentre for property luxury is to be found in California, where for nearly a century now homes of eye-widening opulence have been constructed.
Two properties book end this era, which is arguably drawing to an close as America’s dominance of the global economy ebbs away.
The first (and very famous) example is William Randolph Hearst’s Enchanted Hill half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Hearst, who died in 1951, was famed for his vast fortune made from newspaper and magazine publishing and he began building the house in 1919 on a hill overlooking the coast.
It includes four houses, two swimming pools, 40,000 acres, 55 bedrooms, 41 fireplaces and a guest list that would make Big Brother jealous including Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin and David Niven.
And the properyt was famous in its own right featuring in the 1941 film Citizen Kane. as the inspiration for the sumptuous home of its megalomaniac millionaire central character, Charles Foster Kane.
The other book end is a house that’s just come on the market. Not quite as big, but arguably as ambitious in its opulence, it’s a mansion on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles for sale at £44.3 million.
Strangely, it’s for sale despite still being finished off its by its builder and owner, C. Frederick Wehba, founder of US estate agent chain BentleyForbes.
His new home, which is a French Palladian-inspired, three storey pile with stone floors, a 24-carat front door and nine bedrooms, has shocked many Americans with its luxury at a time when the economy remains weak and unemployment is high.
The site has a history too – in the 1990s it was owned by a Saudi Sheikh who painted his mansion green and pink to howls of disdain from locals before being burned down by burglars. Let’s hope its replacement fares better.
The true global epicentre for property luxury is to be found in California, where for nearly a century now homes of eye-widening opulence have been built