Posted by Leonard Steinberg on February 11th, 2012

While the Occupy Wall Street movement exposed the deep divide between the 1% and the 99%, bonuses dropped sharply even for some of the wealthiest and President Obama announced a new budget that includes raised taxes on the wealthy, the super-wealthy have been building some exceptionally large houses around the country, including in Manhattan.  In to-day’s Wall Street Journal, an article exposes some new additions to the mega-compound-class: an almost 50,000sf house in Los Angeles for the Pritzker family, a 70,000sf house for a Saudi Prince, an 18,000+ sf shack for Giselle and Tom Brady (who’s laughing last?), and many more…..

In Manhattan we are seeing a similar trend. There are several homes in New York either just completed or under construction that add to this class of mega-mansion that a few years ago was thought to be on the road to extinction. Wrong. The spectacular 20,000sf+ compound in Greenwich Village belonging to Noam Gottesman is estimated to have cost over $ 50million. Another mega-house designed by Annabelle Selldorf is being constructed just up the road on Greenwich Street. Talk about combining apartments? Several houses in the Village have been combined to create mega-homes. Madonna’s mega-mansion on East 81st Street is just completing a mega-face-lift (two for one?): With a width of 57 feet (almost as wide as Madonna’s new wide face) it measures well over 20,000sf. There are many more examples.

While the 99% must be outraged by this excessive consumption as we race towards a two class world, the 1% could argue quite well that these properties employ hundreds of people to build, landscape and decorate them, and then provide jobs for many to service and maintain them. Each of these properties generates a huge volume of real estate taxes too. And they generated lots of transfer taxes when they were purchased. There is sales tax on interior fittings and decoration, not to mention art….. and these homes are often re-decorated every 7-10 years…. So yes, its a tremendous level of indulgence for the owners, but those left staring from the curb should know that these mega-mansions benefit the entire community and economy too.