Trophy Homes: What Does $50 Million Buy?

Trophy Homes: What Does $50 Million Buy?

  • Lucy Carson
  • 03/29/24


Trophy homes—for lack of a better term—occupy that rarefied space at the very top of the luxury real estate market.  

They are very much like works of art. Each home has a one-of-a-kind magnificence, often with a compelling provenance; and each offers resplendent amenities, finishes, fixtures, and detail, providing utmost comfort, privacy, and security.  

Explore the heights from these vantages: spectacular views, masterful architecture, the collector’s art, exclusive locations, and world-class recreation.  

Thus, this Luxury Defined edition spotlights the extraordinary luxury available for $50 million, or thereabouts: There’s a stately, museum-grade townhouse in Old Amsterdam; a lavish villa on the jet-set Caribbean island of St. Barths; a beachfront mansion in Dubai; a mountaintop manor in North Carolina; and a contemporary aerie in Paradise Valley, Arizona, worthy of a Bond villain.   

Home, James!  

1. Sagee Manor in Highlands, North Carolina 

North Carolina estate
Sagee Manor is the sole estate atop Sagee Mountain. This nearly 50-acre legacy property is a world apart, yet just minutes from the bucolic, affluent summer retreat of Highlands, N.C.—one of the most sought-after zip codes in the Southeast United States. Image Credit: LARRY MADDEN & DYLAN LYTLE

The sole property atop Sagee Mountain, Sagee Manor is the most valuable estate in North Carolina. The bespoke 12,000-square-foot manor on 49 mountaintop acres offers exceptional privacy and breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains from nearly every vantage.  

Sagee Manor was designed by Atlanta-based architect Keith Summerour. Inspired in part by a circa-1900 Tudor hunting lodge built near Atlanta, he incorporated the same quality craftsmanship throughout: individually milled white oak moldings; paneled wood walls; antique stone floors, fireplaces, and Gothic arches; and other artisan details.   

The property underwent an eight-figure enhancement over the last decade, which added the private helipad with a dedicated reception pavilion and tiered gala amphitheater, among other additions. An adjacent 8.8-acre outparcel with commanding views is available for purchase.  

Further amenities include a guest house, a post-and-beam pavilion, a heated pool and pavilion, a tranquil pond, a croquet court, and delightful terraced gardens—the vision of Rosemary Verey, one of England’s most distinguished landscape designers.  

Much of the land remains untouched. The mountain meadows and woodland are threaded by nature trails and provide habitat for the diverse flora and fauna of Nantahala National Park.  

Helipad notwithstanding, Atlanta is about 2.5 hours’ drive, Asheville is under 2 hours, and Charlotte is less than 3.5 hours away. 

2. Villa NEO in Saint Barthélemy, French West Indies 

Luxury villa
Voted “Best Private Villa” at the 2018 Boutique Hotel Awards, this 9,500-square-foot multi-level structure’s sleek linear form and chic interior spaces would be at home in Beverly Hills; however, Villa NEO is on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy, overlooking the Bay of Saint Jean.

One of the largest and most exclusive homes in Saint Barthélemy, this ultra-contemporary 9,537-square-foot villa rests on a lush hillside in the heights of Saint Jean, minutes from the island’s famous powder-sand beaches and gin-clear seas. 

Villa NEO was designed by architect Patrick Raffeneau and completed in 2018. Its futuristic glass façade and metallic forms evoke its namesake, Neo, hero of The Matrix movies. 

The entrance to Villa Neo is a floating glass staircase, a work of art in itself, with a waterfall as the backdrop. An elevator also rises to the entrance hall, beyond which is a two-story living room that opens to an expansive terrace on one side and an interior patio on the other. The centerpiece of the terrace is a 95-foot-long infinity pool that merges with sea and sky, with a swim-up bar and submerged seating and a Jacuzzi shaded by palm trees. 

Among other highlights are a soundproof nightclub, cinema room, gym, and hammam. Nevertheless, Villa NEO’s star attraction is the sweeping vista over palm-clad hillsides to the Bay of Saint Jean, and out to the Caribbean Sea. 

3. Villa Alsberg on Museum Square, Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Amsterdam luxury villa
A bold architectural statement in 1904, the Villa Alsberg mansion has become a beloved national monument and a haven for contemporary art.

Villa Alsberg presides over Amsterdam’s revered Museum Square—home to the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, and Van Gogh Museum.  

A designated national monument, Villa Alsberg was built in 1904 by Edward Cuypers, nephew of architect Pierre Cuypers (who designed the Rijksmuseum itself and Amsterdam’s Central Station). The younger Cuypers’ design includes elements of Neo-Renaissance and Jugendstil.   

A museum-quality renovation in recent years was guided by the architect’s original drawings and photographs from the city archives. More than 300 stained-glass panels were reproduced, and all original murals were restored, as were parquet floors, exposed wooden ceiling beams, decorative ceiling plasterwork, wainscoting, and a charming fireplace in marble and brass. 

The stately interiors, spanning 13,401 square feet across five floors, are ideal for the display of fine art. In fact, Villa Alsberg currently houses the private collection of the Moco Museum, featuring exhibits by such modern masters as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, and Banksy. 

4. Starlight Residence in Paradise Valley, Arizona 

Arizona luxury home
The starkly bold lines and angles of cantilevered roofs and decks frame this architectural masterpiece in the rugged beauty of Arizona’s Paradise Valley.

An architectural marvel in Paradise Valley’s prestigious Cameldale Estates, the Starlight Residence is the vision of Cape Town-based SAOTA architects in collaboration with local architect Stratton Andrews, AIA. The masterful “organic” design was selected as a finalist at the 2022 World Architecture Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. 

Poised on the north face of Camelback Mountain, the three-acre property seamlessly converges with the desert landscape, its views encompassing four mountain ranges: Mummy, Phoenix, McDowell, and Four Peaks. 

The striking structural elements include earthen walls, floating planar roofs, grand terraces, and water and fire features throughout. Its fluid living spaces—almost 17,000 square feet—include a wish list of luxury lifestyle features, effortlessly incorporated into the design. 

Highlights include a chef’s kitchen, a temperature-controlled wine cellar, yoga studio and spa, seven-car showroom-style garage, glass-bottom infinity pool, and a stargazer’s roof deck.  

5. Beachfront Luxury on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE  

Dubai luxury villa
This serene 16,412-square-foot villa has an ultra-exclusive beachfront setting on the fronds of Dubai's Palm Jumeirah Island.

Tranquility exudes from this custom-built contemporary villa on the golden sands of the Palm Jumeirah, a pinnacle of luxury living in the Emirate city-state of Dubai. 

The 16,412-square-foot beachfront sanctuary overlooks a brilliant blue pool and its sun deck; the beach and the skyline as backdrop. The adjacent outdoor lounge is augmented by swaying palm trees.   

A glorious, marble-clad entrance foyer introduces dazzling, vast interior spaces graced with marble floors and high ceilings with grand lighting designs. There are three living rooms, each with a beach and skyline view, formal and informal dining spaces, a cigar lounge, and a cocktail bar. The study doubles as a majlis (a formal Arabic drawing room), all served by a dream island kitchen with a breakfast bar.  

There are six opulent bedrooms and six full baths, and the en suite bedrooms feature a range of lavish designs and detailing, including parquet, wooden wall finishes and exotic, intimate lighting schemes. 

Further amenities include a cinema room, a gym/exercise studio, and ample parking space. 

Trophy hunting farther afield? Search our international portfolio of $50 million-plus listings. 


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