360-degree views to die for, double-height ceilings, concierge services and more – Why do rich buyers spend millions on penthouses across the world?

With millions to spend, life on top of the world with unimpeded 360-degree views, double-height ceilings, a hotel-style concierge and ‘wow’ factor is the ultimate real estate status symbol

It is open season for trophy hunters seeking the priciest digs on earth.
In a new report on super-penthouses – the ultimate real estate asset for the ultra-high net worth – luxury brokerage List Sotheby’s International Realty (List SIR), Singapore, rounds up what is on the market.

Whether your home-buying budget is US$20.5 million, or US$335 million, they have a deal for you.

The Concourse Skyline penthouse. Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty Singapore

Leong Boon Hoe, chief operating officer, List Sotheby’s International Realty, says the growing trend of super-penthouses sparked the report.
“We see emerging demand from a niche segment in Singapore who are willing to pay top dollar for the best property. Other global super-penthouse sales like the Griffin deal (US billionaire ’s recent purchase of a US$240 million penthouse at Central Park South, Manhattan) piqued our interest. So, we started researching,” he says.

So, what defines a super-penthouse?
For the purposes of its research, List SIR specified a minimum floor space of 10,000 square feet, in a major city, with some basic must-haves. “These [penthouses] are not just top-floor flats,” says James Hyman, head of residential at Cluttons, UK. “They have to be the whole top floor, with unimpeded 360-degree views, double-height ceilings, a hotel-style concierge and total ‘wow’ factor.”

Then there are the desirable features: butler service, a helipad, or a cantilevered swimming pool hanging sky-high off your flat. Or how about a rare, 1.01-carat blue diamond – with an estimated value over US$3 million – developer Hong Fok Corporation is throwing in with one of two penthouses on top of the Concourse Skyline, Singapore?
Only six super-penthouses have changed hands in Singapore from 2006 to 2019. “Those that do exist are in exclusive and prestigious developments within prime locations, and are highly sought after,” says Leong.

Reflections at Keppel Bay, by master architect Daniel Libeskind.

As developers push the bar higher, with “starchitect” design and branded finishes and furnishings, prices have ascended accordingly.
Says Leong: “The prices achieved by super penthouses in Marina Bay Residences, Goodwood Residence and Le Nouvel Ardmore, which were sold either off-plan or when newly completed, attest to this new trend.”
The trend is firmly established in New York City, where “billionaire’s row” offers eight super-penthouses in one prestigious cluster around Central Park.

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List SIR estimates that Citadel founder Ken Griffin’s US$240 million penthouse in this precinct – bought in January 2019 – was probably the most expensive ultra-luxury penthouse deal in the world.
“Its price is well more than double the previous official record for a residential sale in Manhattan, which was US$100.5 million for the penthouse at One57 sold in 2014,” according to the report. For its report, List SIR has rounded up 10 super-penthouses around the world that are on the market, based on listings from 2016 to April 2019.

One of the most outstanding properties is the uber-exclusive Tour Odéon Tower Sky Penthouse in Monaco (price tag US$335 million). Sitting on top of the second tallest building on the Mediterranean coastline, the 35,500 sq ft, five-storey penthouse has 360-degree sea views and boasts the ultimate party favour: a water slide extending from the dance floor to the private infinity pool on the terrace.

The Concourse Skyline Penthouse. Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty Singapore

Other super-penthouses on the market include those in Eighty Seven Park and One Thousand Museum (both in Miami) – priced at US$68 million and US$20.5 million, respectively – and The Pacifica in Auckland at US$24.2 million.
Of the listings in Singapore, the biggest is Wallich Residence, a five-bedroom “villa in the sky” spanning three floors with a floor area of 21,108 sq ft, a dedicated private lift and lift lobby. Standing at 951 feet above sea level, it has unobstructed views of the Central Business District, Marina Bay, and Sentosa Island from its pool, cabana, jacuzzi and entertainment areas.
Next in line is the 17,642 sq ft super penthouse at The Marq on Paterson Hill, an opulent home decked out with designer furniture, furnishing fabrics, wallpapers, carpets, tableware and bespoke leather upholstery.

Wallich Residence sits atop Guoco Tower.

In the same vein, the developer of Concourse Skyline collaborated with luxury magazine Robb Report Singapore to transform one of its two super-penthouses into a designer showcase. A curated collection of furniture and products from more than 20 luxury brands includes a free-standing Meisterstück Soundwave bathtub from German brand Kaldewei (it is connected to a Bluetooth device and pulsates with the beat of the music); a custom chandelier installed by Paris-based glass artist Nathalie Ziegler Pasqua; an elegant rocking chair by British-Israeli designer Ron Arad; and an exclusive installation by Lasvit, a Czech-based team of master craftsmen and manufacturer of bespoke lighting and glass installations. And, of course, the rare blue diamond.

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Leong Boon Hoe says super-penthouses are considered the ultimate trophy real estate for the rich and famous.
“Other than the expected pride of ownership, large penthouses are becoming a desirable asset, much like mega-yachts and private jets,” he says.
But it is not all play and no work for the owners. Leong says these properties offer functional advantages to a top executive or chairman of a multi national corporation.
“A super-penthouse could double as an office – where he could work in absolute privacy, or hold meetings with his management team – or as a private venue to entertain clients.”
Rooftop gentrification began during the 1920s. As buildings became taller and views more desirable, the trend transformed New York rooftops into a new class of housing – today’s luxury penthouses.

Buying guide
Super penthouses on the market:
Tour Odéon Tower, Monaco. Building height 558ft; floor space 37,674 sq ft. This penthouse spans five levels with a rooftop deck and pool. Asking price: US$335 million.
Eighty Seven Park, Miami Beach. Building height 200ft; floor area 30,657 sq ft. Features six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a private gym and two infinity pools. Asking price: US$68 million.

Concourse Skyline, Singapore. Building height 400ft; floor area 11,130 sq ft. A duplex penthouse with five bedrooms and private roof garden, fully furnished in collaboration with various luxury brands. Asking price: US$35.43 million.

One Thousand Museum, Miami. Building height 709ft; floor area 10,000 sq ft. Features five bedrooms, seven bathrooms a media room with wet bar, staff area and over 1,000 sq ft of terrace. Asking price: US$20.5 million.

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