Dubai’s most expensive home for sale for $204 mln

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A mansion evocative of Versailles is for sale in Dubai for 750 million dirhams ($204 million), making it the most expensive house on the market in a city where luxury property is red-hot.

The home in the desirable Emirates Hills neighborhood has 60,000 square feet of indoor space though only five bedrooms: At 4,000 square feet, the primary bedroom is bigger than most homes. The ground floor has rooms for dining and entertaining.

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Other amenities include a 15-car garage, indoor and outdoor pools, two domes, a 70,000-liter (15,400-gallon) coral reef aquarium, a power substation and panic rooms. It sits on a 70,000-square-foot lot in a gated community overlooking a golf course.

The property—nicknamed the “Marble Palace” by the selling agents—was built using an estimated 80 million dirhams to 100 million dirhams in Italian stone. Construction took nearly 12 years and was completed in 2018, according to Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty, which is selling the property. Tasks included the application of 700,000 sheets of gold leaf by 70 skilled workers toiling more than nine months, the brokerage says. The home is currently decorated with about 400 pieces from the owner’s personal art collection, primarily 19th century and 20th century statues and paintings; the owner is prepared to negotiate about including them and furnishings in the purchase.

The owner, a local property developer, declined to be named.

“It’s not everybody’s taste or style, Luxhabitat Sotheby’s broker Kunal Singh says, well aware that buyers will either love it or hate it.

The Dubai property market has been on a tear since late 2020, an uplift that has lasted much longer than other global property booms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rally is partially a correction after a market decline of about six years. Dubai’s handling of the pandemic enabled the city to reopen quickly, attracting bankers who transferred from places like Singapore or Hong Kong. The world’s wealthy snapped up property as a way to stash their money in an uncertain global economy. And an influx of Russians after Russia invaded Ukraine helped sustain the boom.

Several recent mega deals include the 125 million dirham sale of a plot of empty beachfront land and the purchase, for 420 million dirhams, of a penthouse by the Arabian Gulf. Still, the price per square foot of the Marble Palace—12,500 dirhams—is more than double what other properties in Emirates Hills have fetched. The most expensive home sale previously in the neighborhood was for 210 million dirhams, at 5,614 dirhams per square foot, in August 2022, according to Dubai property records.

Only one listing in the city rivals this mansion: A planned penthouse apartment in a project called Bugatti by Binghatti is also being offered at 750 million dirhams but has yet to be built. (Generally, properties that are move-in ready have commanded higher prices than those under construction.) That apartment—or “sky mansion,” as the developer calls it—will come with a car elevator and is due to hit the market in about three years.

Singh estimates that there are only about five to 10 potential buyers in the world who are wealthy enough—and interested in its look—to buy the Marble Palace.

Two people have viewed the home in the past three weeks, Singh says. One, an Uzbek man, would have to figure out how to move his money. The second is an Indian client who already owns three properties in Emirates Hills; his wife is on the fence, leaning toward something more contemporary, Singh says.

“This is something you would buy to show off—to bring some elite people, leaders, politicians,” says Kerry Michael, marketing director for Luxhabitat Sotheby’s.

“The person who buys it definitely is in politics, is in leadership. They want to entertain people. You can’t do that on the Palm without getting notice, without getting media,” she says, referring to the Palm Jumeirah, the manmade archipelago where there are many high-end homes. “

“In Emirates Hills, you can invite the Obamas, you can invite the sheikhs into this palace and entertain.”

Singh says the property’s price is partly justified by the value of the time and materials that went into building it. The location is minutes from the Palm Jumeirah and about 25 minutes by car from the Dubai International Financial Center business district.
Emirates Hills, a gated community, was created two decades ago and has often been described as Dubai’s Beverly Hills, without the movie-industry connections. A golf course runs through the middle. The total lot size of the Marble Palace is one of the largest in the community. An adjacent plot of about 6,000 square feet could be purchased or leased from the developer, potentially for tennis or padel ball court.

The primary suite includes his-and-her bathrooms. The second-largest bedroom suite is 2,500 square feet, and guest rooms are each about 1,000 square feet; one is currently configured to store wine. There are 12 staff rooms with space for up to 25, and two bank vaults. The owner built the home and lives in it by himself following a divorce.

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