How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (2023)

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (1)

Photo-Illustration by Lorenzo Petrantoni (photos via Getty Images)

Going into the final stretch of the 2020 Kentucky Derby, millions of dollars rested on the performance of a 3-year-old horse named Authentic. The stallion, owned by billionaire self-storage and rental-home magnate B. Wayne Hughes, led Vegas favorite Tiz the Law by half a head.

In eerie silence, the drunken revelers at home due to the pandemic, Authentic pushed toward the finish. With just a quarter-mile left, his jockey’s lash urged him forward. Tiz had taken the Belmont Stakes a few months prior, and nearly half of the $80 million wagered that day had been on him. As the two horses barreled toward the finish, Authentic kept his lead, ruining a lot of bettors’ days. But for Hughes, the moment was nirvanic: after a half-century of thoroughbred ownership, the real estate titan finally had his first Kentucky Derby.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (2)

B. Wayne Hughes and a horse race (Getty Images)

Hughes got in early on some major industry trends. He founded Public Storage in 1972 just as Americans began renting empty cubes to hold all their junk (self-storage is now a $39.5 billion industry, according to listings service SpareFoot).

Then, as more Americans started renting homes in the wake of the Great Recession, he founded American Homes 4 Rent, today one of the country’s largest owners of single-family rentals. With an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion, Hughes has plenty of money to spend on his passions. And he’s far from the only real estate baron with cash to spare.

More than 200 real estate moguls appeared on Forbes’ 2021 billionaires list; all told, the industry accounts for about 10 percent of billionaires worldwide. Far more have fortunes in the hundreds of millions, a testament to one of the most lucrative (and risky) businesses on the planet. But with great risk comes great reward, and great rewards lead to great excess. This month, The Real Deal took a look at some of the shiniest toys industry titans ride, fly, sail and display when they aren’t shaping skylines.

By sea, land and air

When Jeff Greene went to Davos in 2015, he caught heat for reportedly saying, “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high,” even as he flew to the forum on his private jet with his family and two nannies. The comments by Greene, who made his fortune in the housing market crash through credit default swaps on subprime mortgage-backed bonds, looked particularly bad given the context. But Greene’s distaste for the TSA line is shared by other real estate bigwigs.

Don Peebles, a Miami-based developer and founder of Peebles Corporation, used to own a Gulfstream IIB powered by Rolls-Royce engines, according to Global Air. It reportedly fit 12 passengers and featured two separate cabins so he and his wife could enjoy some privacy from their kids, who occupied themselves with an onboard PlayStation.

Peebles sold the jet to get a share in a Bombardier Challenger 300, but as the pandemic curtailed his travel schedule, he scaled back. He now just charters jets and helicopters as needed.

(Video) Sam Zell - The Biggest Real Estate Owner in America | Full Documentary

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (3)

Don Peebles and a Gulfstream IIB (Getty Images)

Other real estaters prefer the high seas. Rick Caruso, whose eponymous Los Angeles development company built such icons as the Grove and the Commons at Calabasas, owns a 216-foot superyacht, Invictus. Worth an estimated $100 million, the boat is outfitted with Italian marble, exotic wood on every deck and a custom, ice-strengthened steel hull, according to its builder, Delta Marine. With 14 cabins, a hot tub and a movie theater with stadium seating, Invictus brings the comforts of land to the ocean.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (4)

Rick Caruso and his superyacht, Invictus (Getty Images)

New York developer Charles Cohen took customization to a whole new level for his yacht, Seasense. Cohen spent years searching for the right ship before falling for a 220-footer with a massive pool on the main deck. “This is really the case of expanding the envelope to take something land-based and put it on the sea,” Cohen told Architectural Digest.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (5)

Charles Cohen and his superyacht, Seasense (Getty Images)

Cohen and his wife designed the interior with the help of Area Architecture, which also worked on their L.A. home and Cohen’s offices. The decor paints the boat in luscious shades of blue, meant to emulate the ocean. Cohen intentionally avoided the dark woods and low ceilings of other ships he toured, building out a full gym and a 98-inch movie screen on deck. A movie buff with his own film distribution company and the winner of an Academy Award, Cohen installed an entertainment system that lets guests access an extensive film catalogue from any room.

Of course, the expenses don’t end once the boat hits the water. Yachts like Invictus and Seasense can accumulate annual costs of anywhere from $3.2 million to $6.3 million, according to Superyacht Intelligence, which covers the industry. Between fuel, crews and mechanical upgrades, these floating mansions can sink even the most buoyant wallet.

And then there’s Roy Carroll. The motorhead developer, who founded North Carolina-based Carroll Companies, boats, flies and drives in style. His 190-foot yacht, Skyfall, features a wine cellar, two hot tubs, a masseuse and a helipad that converts to a basketball court.

(Video) Black Real Estate moguls explain how they've done billions in business

Carroll flies in his private Gulfstream G450 jet between his projects, which hopscotch the South’s “It” cities such as Nashville, Austin and Dallas. The plane can fly 14 passengers almost 5,000 miles, according to NetJets.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (6)

Roy Carroll and a Ferrari (he owns at least six) (Getty Images)

And when he simply must stay on the ground, Carroll still has the horses. No, not the ones that neigh — Carroll’s horses roar. He reportedly owns six Ferraris, and doesn’t just keep them in the garage. Instead, he competes in the Ferrari Challenge, described on the Italian automaker’s website as “a competition for those who, not satisfied with just driving their Ferraris on the road, feel the urge to compete in top-level sprint races.”

Since his debut on the tour in 2020, Carroll has finished second in two races.

But the industry’s biggest car nut is undoubtedly Gil Dezer. The Miami builder developed the Porsche Design Tower and is now working on the Bentley Residences, both in Sunny Isles Beach. That’s business, but here’s where it gets personal: Dezer owns the Aston Martin DB5 James Bond drove in “Goldfinger,” a Bugatti Veyron — No. 305, in an ode to his adopted hometown — and a whole host of other supercars. He’s a former winner of the Gumball 3000, a celebrity motor rally that takes place on public roads.

Ball is life

The industry’s most ruthless developers amassed their fortunes by outmaneuvering the competition, so it’s no surprise that many spend their spare time and money on professional sports teams.

Neil Bluhm, the founder of JMB Realty and Walton Street Capital, already owns several iconic pieces of the Chicago skyline. But he also owns a few of its sporting icons. Bluhm holds minority stakes in the Bulls and White Sox, and reportedly coveted the Bears as well. While he never completed that Windy City trifecta, there’s still time: The Bears recently partnered with Bluhm’s gambling outfit as the team’s exclusive sportsbook. Further, they plan to bid on a 320-acre racetrack owned by Churchill Downs Inc., a publicly traded gambling and racing company that holds a majority stake in Bluhm’s nearby Rivers Casino.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (8)

(Video) Warren Buffett: Why Real Estate Is a LOUSY Investment?

Ed Roski Jr. and the Staples Center (Getty Images)

As professional sports arenas grow more luxurious, franchises stand to gain from an owner with real estate know-how. Ed Roski Jr., president of Majestic Realty, made his mark on the L.A. sports scene by leading development of the Staples Center. The Downtown arena now hosts the Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings, both of which Roski has partially owned since the 1990s. During his tenure, the franchises have had six NBA championships and two Stanley Cups.

Roski has taken his love of sports to extreme environments, completing grueling physical challenges across the world. An avid explorer, he has biked across Myanmar, reached base camp at Mount Everest and plunged 2.5 miles underwater to visit the wreck of the Titanic in a Russian submersible.

He’s also funded or participated in more than a dozen trips to Melanesia, the stretch of Southern Pacific islands that includes Papua New Guinea and Fiji. There, Roski collected rare art now on display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California.

Elsewhere in L.A., Stan Kroenke has blurred the lines between real estate and sports to such a degree that it begs the question which is his primary enterprise. While he is one of the largest landowners in America, with 30 million square feet of commercial real estate and nearly 1.4 million acres of ranchland, he has also compiled a portfolio of sports teams across every major league.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (9)

Stan Kroenke and SoFi Stadium (Getty Images)

He relocated his highest-profile team, the Los Angeles Rams, to the most expensive stadium in the world, his $5.5 billion stadium SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The arena is more than twice as costly as the runner-up. Kroenke also holds stakes in the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, as well as the state’s professional soccer and lacrosse teams. He even holds an interest in Arsenal, an English Premier League powerhouse.

For Ted Lerner, founder of Lerner Enterprises in Maryland, buying the Washington Nationals in 2006 represented the fulfillment of a “lifelong dream.” He played an active role in reshaping the baseball franchise after it moved to the nation’s capital from Montreal, helping turn the team from a perennial loser to a champion. In 2018, he passed control of the team to his son, Mark. A year later, the Nationals won their first World Series.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (11)

Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins (Getty Images)

(Video) Donald Trump on How to Make Money, Real Estate, and New York City (1980)

But they can’t all be winners. Stephen Ross, the founder and chair of Related Companies, purchased 50 percent of the Miami Dolphins for more than $1 billion in 2008. The following year, he bought another 45 percent of the team. While the Dolphins won their division in Ross’ first year, they’ve since achieved only two winning seasons.

All about the arts

There’s a 14-foot tall rabbit in the lobby of 51 Astor Place. It’s bright red, weighs three tons and is worth millions of dollars. And it’s just one piece of developer Edward Minskoff’s formidable art collection.

How Real Estate's Wealthiest Moguls Spend Their Billions (12)

Edward Minskoff and a “Balloon Rabbit” by Jeff Koons (Getty Images)

Known as “Balloon Rabbit (Red),” the Jeff Koons sculpture has sat in the lobby of Minskoff’s East Village office building since he built the tower in 2013. The developer, who founded Edward J. Minskoff Equities in 1987, has a well-known penchant for visual arts, with a collection of 20th- and 21st-century art comprising more than 700 pieces. He owns works by Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein as well as at least 17 pieces by Pablo Picasso, according to ARTnews.

While he shares Minskoff’s love for Koons, Jerry Speyer has a collection that also features works by unknown artists. The chair of Tishman Speyer has been building his collection since 1964, when he bought his first painting at a show in Greenwich Village, he told Crain’s. His Upper East Side mansion is reportedly so full of art that visitors get a catalogue guiding them along the jam-packed walls.

Speyer even served as chair of the Museum of Modern Art for 11 years before stepping down in 2018. He reportedly leveraged his industry know-how to persuade the owners of the Dorset Hotel to sell their building to the museum for $25 million under value when it moved to Midtown.

    (Video) Billionaire Richard LeFrak: Becoming a Real Estate Mogul

    FAQs

    How do billionaires invest their money? ›

    Private Equity and Hedge Funds

    Private equity and hedge funds sit adjacent to securities and trading markets. While they aren't the same thing, these two types of investment tools are popular among billionaires. They appeal to people of high net worth who can afford large investments and higher risk.

    What makes a real estate mogul? ›

    A real estate mogul is an entrepreneur who has built a massive real estate empire by actively or passively investing in real estate. It is no surprise that real estate moguls are among the richest billionaires in the world who own hundreds of commercial & residential properties.

    Who is the biggest real estate tycoon in the world? ›

    Li Ka-shing topped the list as the world's richest real estate entrepreneur at 94 years old with $33 billion, followed by Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land with $27 billion, and Country Garden's Yang Huiyan of $26 billion, according to the Hurun Research Institute.

    How do millionaires get their money? ›

    According to a study published in 2019 by Wealthx, here's the breakdown of millionaires with at least $30m in net worth: 67.7% are self-made. 23.7% made their money from a combination of their own efforts and inheritance. 8.5% inherited their wealth entirely.

    What bank do rich people use? ›

    Citibank's private banking unit is Citibank Private Bank. It's one of the top banks for rich people and only the wealthy may use its services.

    Do billionaires have bank accounts? ›

    Ultra-high-net-worth individuals need checking accounts that are equipped to meet their unique wealth management needs. Many high-net-worth individuals choose to conduct their banking at the same institutions that are frequented by average consumers.

    How do real estate moguls make money? ›

    Many real estate moguls start out small and grow big by buying and holding single-family rental (SFR) properties. Real estate compounding is a strategy you might use to become a real estate mogul by reinvesting rental property cash flow.

    How many properties do you need to be a real estate mogul? ›

    FOUR OR MORE HOUSES

    Three properties plus your own home can be worth millions many years down the track.

    How do people get rich buying real estate? ›

    The most popular way is to buy an investment property and slowly build up your portfolio. Generally, there are two primary ways to make money from real estate assets — appreciation, which is an increase in property value over a period of time, and rental income collected by renting out the property to tenants.

    Who is the highest paid real estate agent? ›

    DALLAS, May 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ben Caballero, a current Guinness World Record title holder and No. 1-ranked real estate agent in the U.S., set a new record for home sales in Dallas-Ft. Worth last year.

    Who is the richest real estate agent in the world? ›

    Aaron Kirman knows how to close a deal: He's sold roughly $6 billion worth of real estate over his 25-year career, making him the No.

    Who is the best real estate investor of all time? ›

    1. Donald Bren – $16.2 Billion. Donald Bren is currently the richest real investor in the world but he didn't build his empire overnight! He earned the majority of his wealth from The Irvine Company, a property giant he oversees.

    What job do most millionaires have? ›

    The top five careers for millionaires include engineer, accountant, teacher, management and attorney.

    What do billionaires do for fun? ›

    Sports, boating, and travel are also popular pastimes among the richest people in the world, according to Wealth-X. The hobbies of the richest billionaires are different from billionaires with net worths under $5 billion; billionaires worth $5 billion are more active in philanthropy, art, and aviation.

    How do billionaires pay for things? ›

    The short answer is that wealthy people often rely on loans. “For many of these folks, instead of selling the stocks or the real estate — which would cause [it] to be subject to tax — and then using the proceeds to fund their lifestyle, they instead borrow money and [use that] to fund their lifestyles,” Huang explains.

    What bank does Bill Gates use? ›

    Cascade Investment
    TypePrivate
    Founded1995
    FounderBill Gates
    HeadquartersKirkland, Washington , United States
    Key peopleBill Gates (Chairman) Michael Larson (CIO)
    5 more rows

    Do billionaires use credit cards? ›

    The super rich use a variety of different credit cards, many of which have strict requirements to obtain, such as invitation only or a high minimum net worth. Such cards include the American Express Centurion (Black Card) and the JP Morgan Chase Reserve.

    Where do billionaires deposit their money? ›

    Private Equity and Hedge Funds

    While they aren't the same thing, these two types of investment tools are popular among billionaires. They appeal to people of high net worth who can afford large investments and higher risk. Such people are sometimes categorized as sophisticated investors or accredited investors.

    Who has most cash in the world? ›

    Key Takeaways
    • Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $241 billion. ...
    • Behind Musk is the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, with an estimated net worth of $151 billion.

    How much cash do billionaires carry? ›

    According to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS, the world's billionaires are holding an average of $600 million in cash each—greater than the gross domestic product of Dominica.

    Can you deposit millions into a bank? ›

    In short, there is no limit on the amount of money that you can put in a savings account. No law limits how much you can save and there's no rule stating that a bank cannot take a deposit if you have a certain amount in your account already.

    Where do billionaires put their money? ›

    Private Equity and Hedge Funds

    Private equity and hedge funds sit adjacent to securities and trading markets. While they aren't the same thing, these two types of investment tools are popular among billionaires. They appeal to people of high net worth who can afford large investments and higher risk.

    Where do millionaires invest their money? ›

    Millionaires invested more than three-quarters of their money in stock, bonds, real estate and alternative investments, says the just-released World Wealth Report from Capgemini Research Institute. All four of these assets types are down an average of more than 15% over the past year.

    Where do most billionaires get their money? ›

    The job sectors where most billionaires make their money
    RankIndustry/Job sector% of billionaires
    1Financial Services9.3%
    2Healthcare8.7%
    3Real Estate8.1%
    4Retail7.4%
    6 more rows
    18 Apr 2022

    Where do the super wealthy keep their money? ›

    are popular investments for millionaires. Examples of cash equivalents are money market mutual funds, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and Treasury bills. Some millionaires keep their cash in Treasury bills that they keep rolling over and reinvesting. They liquidate them when they need the cash.

    How much money can you keep in a bank? ›

    Though there's no limit to how much you can keep in a savings account, you should know the rules surrounding large deposits to savings accounts. When it comes to making deposits to a bank account, $10,000 is the magic number.

    What bank does Bill Gates have? ›

    Cascade Investment
    TypePrivate
    Founded1995
    FounderBill Gates
    HeadquartersKirkland, Washington , United States
    Key peopleBill Gates (Chairman) Michael Larson (CIO)
    5 more rows

    How do billionaires pay for things? ›

    The short answer is that wealthy people often rely on loans. “For many of these folks, instead of selling the stocks or the real estate — which would cause [it] to be subject to tax — and then using the proceeds to fund their lifestyle, they instead borrow money and [use that] to fund their lifestyles,” Huang explains.

    What do millionaires do all day? ›

    A significant percentage of self-made millionaires do 30 minutes or more of aerobic exercise every day, like running, jogging, walking, or biking. Approximately 88% of self-made millionaires spend 30 minutes or more a day reading. What kinds of books do they read? Biographies, self-help books, and history books.

    How do the rich spend their money? ›

    How do the world's billionaires spend their money? According to an article by Insider, billionaires can typically afford to spend $80 million a year, with many spending their wealth on private jets, real estate, remote islands, cars, art, trips to space, and superyachts.

    What do billionaires do for fun? ›

    Sports, boating, and travel are also popular pastimes among the richest people in the world, according to Wealth-X. The hobbies of the richest billionaires are different from billionaires with net worths under $5 billion; billionaires worth $5 billion are more active in philanthropy, art, and aviation.

    What profession has the most billionaires? ›

    1. Engineering. Coming in at the top is engineering - which might surprise you, but the scope of engineering is huge and widening all of the time. 22% of the world's top 100 billionaires studied some kind of engineering.

    What jobs can make u rich? ›

    There are all kinds of degrees to earn these days, but not all of them guarantee a high-paying job in the end.
    ...
    Top 10 Jobs That Make You Rich
    • Doctor. ...
    • Surgeon. ...
    • Investment Banker. ...
    • Corporate Executive. ...
    • Petroleum Engineer. ...
    • Psychiatrist. ...
    • Data Scientist. ...
    • Research & Development Manager.

    Do millionaires use credit card? ›

    If you're wealthy, it still makes sense to use cards. Most rich people can easily afford to pay cash for every purchase. Despite this, even the wealthy use credit cards regularly.

    What to do if you have more than 250k in the bank? ›

    Here are eight solutions for insuring all your money.
    1. Open an account at a different bank. ...
    2. Add a joint owner. ...
    3. Get an account that's in a different ownership category. ...
    4. Join a credit union. ...
    5. Use IntraFi Network Deposits (formerly CDARS and ICS) ...
    6. Open a cash management account. ...
    7. Put your money in a MaxSafe account.
    1 Mar 2022

    What is the best bank for millionaires? ›

    Best Private Banks For Millionaires
    • Bank of America: Private Banking.
    • Citi: Private Banking.
    • HSBC: Private Banking.
    • JP Morgan: Private Bank.
    • Morgan Stanley.
    • UBS.
    • Wells Fargo: Private Bank.
    12 May 2022

    Videos

    1. Real estate tycoon with 18,000 apartments taught me to think and grow rich
    (Attila Korosi)
    2. Top 10 Richest Real Estate Developers In The World
    (Alux.com)
    3. Zhang Xin: China's real estate mogul
    (CBS News)
    4. Interview w/ Curtis Haines, Real Estate Investor with Billions in Assets
    (Del Walmsley - Lifestyles Unlimited, Inc.)
    5. How Mohammed Bin Salman Spends His $2 Trillion Fortune
    (Luxury Zone)
    6. MANNY KHOSHBIN: From Homeless To $250 Million Real Estate Mogul & Luxury Car Collector, He made it!
    (Motivation Beast)
    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

    Last Updated: 12/17/2022

    Views: 5757

    Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

    Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Mrs. Angelic Larkin

    Birthday: 1992-06-28

    Address: Apt. 413 8275 Mueller Overpass, South Magnolia, IA 99527-6023

    Phone: +6824704719725

    Job: District Real-Estate Facilitator

    Hobby: Letterboxing, Vacation, Poi, Homebrewing, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Cabaret

    Introduction: My name is Mrs. Angelic Larkin, I am a cute, charming, funny, determined, inexpensive, joyous, cheerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.