Pierre Penthouse: What Makes a Home Worth $125 Million?


Though The New York Times got the first look inside New York City's unbelievably opulent Pierre Hotel penthouse (pictured above), the $125 million listing officially stormed the Internet on Tuesday. It's the three-story home atop one of Manhattan's ritziest hotels that was once owned by the late investor Martin Zweig, who predicted the 1987 stock market crash three days before it happened. The home's jaw-dropping black marble staircase and sweeping living room -- which used to be the hotel's ballroom -- has garnered real estate fame for years.

But even with all that, is it really worth $125 million?! What exactly makes a home worth that much? Well, it's all in perspective. If you ask Pierre penthouse listing agent Elizabeth Lee Sample, you're paying for art.

"Because this is a one-of-a-kind penthouse, it was hard to set a price because nothing really compares," Sample told the Times. "I think of it, and I believe the buyer will see it, as a work of art." The New York Observer opined that this notion of homes as art is the crutch that many agents of uber-expensive listings fall on to justify the sky-high prices. And it's true: People will shell out ungodly amounts in the name of art. (Edvard Munch's iconic painting "The Scream" fetched $120 million last May, for example.)

Indeed, there are a number of cases where Realtors pull the "art card." Take the most expensive listing in America at the moment, the Crespi/Hicks estate (pictured at left) in Dallas. The 42,500-square-foot home originally built for an Italian count has a $135 million price tag. And why not? It's an "Architecturally Significant Home," according to the listing's website (which is actually called SignificantHomes.com). With a headline that reads "Architecture as Art," the listing boasts that the Crespi/Hicks home is the kind that hits the market "once in a generation. ... The finest estate homes elevate the cultural consciousness."

And who can forget New York City's $100 million octagonal triplex penthouse? It supposedly had the highest wraparound terraces in the city, plus 135 windows so you wouldn't miss a view anywhere in the place. The home's owner, real estate developer Steven Klar, was trying to sell it as -- can you guess? -- a piece of art. "Art is what people are willing to pay for, and an apartment like this is like a piece of art," Klar told the Times last July. (Never mind that inferior $90 million penthouse in the building going up next door, which was already beginning to block the $100 million Central Park views.)

So next time you see a crazy-expensive home on the market and you think, "Who on earth would pay that?!" Just remember, it's art -- and art is worth a lot.

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Originally published