If you have ever wondered how the “other half” lives, you probably already know that envisioning the homes and mansions of the super rich likely takes a bit of imagination or a lot of research. This is because many homes of the super rich are under high security and are often hidden from the public eye. Even so, there are those that take the secrecy to entirely new levels.
1. Huguette Clark’s Secret Mansions
Huguette Clark was the daughter of a U.S. Senator who was also a businessman involved in mining and railroads during the early 20th century. Although she and her mother owned and occupied several Manhattan apartments, to include an entire floor in at least one Fifth Avenue building, her most hidden residence was that of Bellosguardo, translated “beautiful view,” in Santa Barbara, California. This 23-acre, $100 million estate is surrounded by high walls and can only be viewed from the outside from the air.
Clark became a recluse after the death of her mother in 1963, retreating to the Santa Barbara mansion where she pursued her interests in music and art. She learned to play the harp and spent time painting the landscapes around her estate. Having no children as a result of her one brief marriage of only two years, Clark indulged in her love of dolls and playthings by befriending a child of her caretaker and sending dolls to the children of friends around the world.
2. Vladimir Putin’s Mansion on the Black Sea
Although nearly impossible to prove, several activist groups are claiming that at least one extravagant mansion on the Russian coast of the Black Sea belongs to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Surrounded by a black gate and having a façade reminiscent of the Soviet era, the mansion is heavily guarded against trespassers trying to get a closer look, either by land or sea. Officially, the home and its surrounding 40 acres of land are owned by Indocopas, a supposedly private company without a website or valid phone number. In addition, allegations have been made that this is one of many such estates built illegally with state funds and in violation of environmental regulations.
3. Casa Jiménez
Located in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, this formerly grand mansion is currently in crumbling ruins. Casa Jiménez was originally designed by lawyer and diplomat Manuel Francisco Jiménez Ortiz and built in 1905. Jiménez Ortiz was also the original owner of the mansion. One of the only remaining original Art Nouveau style buildings in San Jose and listed on the Ministry of Culture’s protected heritage list, it is currently tied up in court proceedings that restrict the type of remodeling that can be done to the mansion. However, at this point, the building needs restoration to save it more than it needs remodeling.
Built in 1850 by Dr. Samuel Mansfield on the outskirts of Memphis, this gated Italian-style mansion sits on over 200 acres of land on Lamar Avenue, although not visible from the street. The home was sold to Colonel Robert C. Brinkley in 1869 and given to his daughter Annie Overton Brinkley and her new husband Colonel Bogardus Snowden as a wedding present. The home was then named Annesdale, as a shorter version of “Annie’s Dale.” Although the home’s designer is unknown, certain features of the home such as rounded arches, bracketed cornices, and square tower are reminiscent of the style of Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloane.
5. California Hidden Hills
Here is your chance to live and party like a rockstar in this mansion owned and rented out by Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles. Originally purchased for over $12 million, the couple originally tried to sell it for $13 million. When it didn’t sell, they reverted to renting it at $50 thousand per month. With six bedrooms and ten bathrooms, the home has plenty of room for elaborate parties and overnight guests. Located within a gated community, the home also features an eclectic style that one would expect of the likes of Ozzy Osbourne. Features include a black spiral staircase, swimming pool, cinema, floor to ceiling windows, a chef’s kitchen and formal dining room.
6. The Steinway Mansion
Located in the Astoria neighborhood of Western Queens, New York, the Steinway mansion can be found in a forested area beyond the industrial section of town. Built in 1858, it was occupied by the Steinways until the 1930s when it was then sold to the Jack Halberian. The Halberians raised a family in the home and passed it on their son, who owned it until 2006, when it was sold to someone interested in restoring it. With 28 rooms, the house boasts fireplaces in every room and a finished basement that houses a full bar, billiards rooms and a cinema room. In addition, the house is filled with antiques, art and sculptures, and ornately carved wood.
7. Payne Mansion
Used for various purposes over the years, the Payne Mansion in the Hudson river area of New York has most recently been donated to Marist College for use in developing a leadership program that will train individuals for careers in government, business and the nonprofit sector. Located on sixty acres of land, the property was most recently appraised at about $65 million. Since its construction in 1905 by Oliver Hazzard Payne on land purchased from John Jacob Aster, the property has been used as both private residence and educational facilities, including the Wiltwyck School for Boys and an earlier school and retreat operated by the Marist brothers, founders of Marist College. When the home was sold to its most recent owner Raymond A. Rich, it was restored to its former glory and then bequeathed back to Marist college upon his demise.
8. Bohemia Manor Farm
Once belonging to Augustine Herman, one of a handful of prominent landowners in North America, Bohemia Manor Farm is located in the picturesque Chesapeake Valley area of Maryland. Although originally built in 1660 for Herman, a cartographer responsible for mapping much of the Chesapeake Bay area, the current home was rebuilt in 1920 and restored in 2003 to 2004. Most recently on the market for a cool $13 million, the Bohemia Manor Farm has eleven bedrooms, seven full baths, four half baths, several fireplaces, and a wine grotto. Herman named the property after his homeland in what is now the Czech Republic.
9. Blair Family Mansion
Also dubbed the Mickey Mouse Mansion, this home in Palm Bay, Florida is owned by Timothy D. and Johna Blair. With a Mickey Mouse-shaped pool in the back and a Mickey Mouse-shaped fountain in the front, there is some speculation as to whether the current Blairs are in anyway related to the late Mrs. Mary Blair, the Disney artist responsible for the concept art in Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Song of the South. However, while several business enterprises registered to the address would also suggest kinship with the late Mrs. Blair, nothing is proven. The home was built in 1999, has about 4,772 square feet and sits on approximately ten acres.
10. Beverly Hills Mansion of Rupert Murdoch
This Italian-style villa resembles a mountain fortress built in the hills of Beverly Hills, California. Built in 1926, it has eleven bedrooms, nine bathrooms and over 8,700 square feet. Murdoch, owner of various newspapers, movie companies and televisions networks, including Twentieth Century Fox Studios, Fox Network, and Fox News, has let very little information leak with regard to his Beverly Hills Mansion, providing a perfect private retreat for this large business mogul. Arguably the most private of his residences, this mansion remains only one of several homes and apartments owned by Murdoch.
11. Hitler’s Secret Los Angeles Bunker
Bizarre as it may sound now, this California mansion was built in the 1930s by a group of American fascists styling themselves the Silver Shirts in emulation of Hitler’s grass-roots organization The Brown Shirts. Convinced of Hitler’s eventual victory and acceptance in the higher social circles within the United States, the compound was created with 22 bedrooms, a diesel power plant, 375,000 gallon water tank, and a bomb shelter. Since its construction, it has been an artists colony and briefly home to the author Henry Miller. It currently sits in ruins, with plans to bulldoze the site and turn it into a picnic area for hikers.
12. Hidden Valley Castle
With 8,400 square feet, seven bedrooms, nine fireplaces, and a stone courtyard, this castle replica was built in the early 1920s by Dr. Walton Martin as a present to his wife. It is located in Cornwall, Connecticut and also boasts an eight-car garage and a guesthouse with a walled garden. Construction involved over 100 workmen, many imported materials as well as local stone, and a total of five years in time. Previous owners included financier Saul Saul Steinberg and retailer Joseph Cicio. The most recent sales price on record for the home was $5.925 million in 2001.
Located on top of Afton Mountain near Waynesboro, Virginia, Swannanoa mansion is said to have once been a meeting place for the Illuminati. Previously owned by Walter Russell, a contemporary of Albert Einstein, with whom he corresponded regarding the dangers of nuclear fission. Russell is also a last name associated with the so-called Illuminati, leading to speculation that Swannanoa was once a meeting place for this organization. Russell was a multi-talented genius who filled his home with his artwork and music, representing strong Illuminati ideals and seeming to be the perfect example of an Illuminati representative.
14. Chameleon House
The most contemporary entry on this list, Chameleon House was built in 2006 in Northport, Michigan on a hill overlooking Lake Michigan and a cherry orchard. Taking less than eight weeks to build out of prefabricated materials, the house got its name from the translucent acrylic slats that were used to wrap the steel frame, slats that reflect the surrounding landscape and give the house chameleon-like properties. Because of its location on top of a steep hill, the entrance into this house is on the third floor, with residents and visitors then descending to the lower level bedrooms and living areas.