14 March 2009

Homes of the Billionaires

It's no surprise that the world's billionaires live in bigger spreads than the rest of us. But those deep pockets also buy the kind of eye-popping extras that stretch the imagination. It takes a nine-digit fortune to buy a home outfitted with a gold-plated pool, Turkish baths and a 2,500-square-foot gym. You'll find these and other amenities in our annual tour of the homes of the billionaires.

© Berkshire Hathaway

1. Warren Buffett

Omaha, Neb.
Net Worth: $37 billion
Rank: 2

The world's second-richest man still resides in the 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom gray stucco home he bought in 1958 for $31,500. The 77-year-old keeps fit on his very own handball court. In 2007 an intruder armed with a fake gun tried to break into the modest, ungated property, but was thwarted by security.

© Graham Barclay/Celebrityhomephoto.com

2. Lakshmi Mittal

London, England
Net Worth: $19.3 billion
Rank: 8

In 2004, Mittal paid $128 million for this 12-bedroom townhouse in the luxe Kensington neighborhood called Billionaires' Row. Mittal's mansion, tucked between Kensington Palace and the Sultan of Brunei's spread, has an indoor pool, Turkish baths and garage space for 20 cars. The super-home is embellished with marble taken from the same quarry that supplied the Taj Mahal.

© Woodside Historic Committee

3. Steve Jobs

Woodside, Calif.
Net Worth: $3.4 billion
Rank: 178

In 2007 preservationists in Woodside, Calif., successfully quashed the tech superstar's plans to demolish the Jackling House, his 30-room historic, though dilapidated Spanish Colonial revival-style home set on six acres. Jobs had hoped to raze the 17,000-square-foot mansion and build smaller, newer digs. No matter. Word is he and his family haven't lived in the house for years.

© CelebrityHomePhotos.com

4. George Lucas

Marin County, Calif.
Net Worth: $3 billion
Rank: 205

The acclaimed Star Wars filmmaker lives and works on his famed Skywalker Ranch. The 5,156-acre spread, which boasts its own fire brigade, houses Skywalker Sound, Lucas' post-production company (Cast Away, Million Dollar Baby), as well as five acres of olive trees, a herd of longhorn cattle and even bee colonies. Lucas displays his Hollywood memorabilia--the Holy Grail from the Indiana Jones series, Charlie Chaplin's cane--inside the 50,000-square-foot main house.

© Mike Carrillo/Celebrityhomephotos.com

5. Oprah Winfrey

Montecito, Calif.
Net Worth: $2.7 billion
Rank: 234

The self-made media mogul paid $50 million in 2001 for the 23,000-square-foot Georgian-style home she calls the "Promised Land." In 2007 the spread was appraised at just under $85 million. For such a public persona, Winfrey ferociously guards the privacy of her home, situated on 43 acres. At a Barack Obama fund raiser last year, guests were strictly prohibited from entering the house, and cameras were forbidden.