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The Biggest Real Estate Transactions of 2020

Written by Ashley Sutphin Posted On Tuesday, 12 January 2021 00:00

Unlike what we might have thought when we rang in the new year, 2020 probably wasn’t “our year” for most of us. It was a difficult one. The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating in terms of health, but also financially and economically.

For some, those impacts haven’t been felt, including some of America’s wealthiest names. There have also been some trends that have impacted luxury real estate. For example, there was an exodus out of New York City, with elite buyers heading to locations like the Hamptons, Palm Beach, and Greenwich.

It was a big year for real estate transactions, and some of the numbers topped the charts. As it currently stands, of the top ten real estate deals in 2020, two were more than $100 million.

Five of the biggest ten deals were in California, and two were in Palm Beach. Two others were in the Hamptons, and then, there was a closing in New York City as well although the deal wasn’t signed this year.

The Warner Estate—Los Angeles

Amazon has seen its stock prices soar during the pandemic because of the dramatic move to almost entirely online shopping.

In April, Jeff Bezos closed on the Warner Estate for $165 million. Bezos bought the 1930s mansion from David Geffen. It was a record price for a home in Los Angeles, with no agents involved. It was also an off-market deal.

The home is on nine acres in Benedict Canyon.

Jeffrey Katzenberg Estate—Los Angeles

In August, Jeffrey Katzenberg sold his home in Beverly Hills for $125 million. It was another off-market deal, and he sold to Jan Koum. Koum is one of the founders of the WhatsApp messaging service.

Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn said they couldn’t refuse the offer made to them, having paid $35 million for the property in 2009. The home sits on nearly seven acres and is 26,000 square feet.

220 Central Park South—New York

While New York real estate overall has been suffering this year, there was a deal for $99.9 million completed this year. The property, a penthouse at 220 Central Park South, is in a tower on Billionaire’s Row.

The deal closed in July, but the contract was first signed over three years ago.

The apartment boasts three bedrooms and is around 9,800 square feet.

With that being said, no deals in New York that actually started in 2020 topped the biggest transactions for the year. Along with many current residents looking to leave the city this year, there were significant lockdowns and restrictions for most of the year, which put a damper on foreign buying interest as well.

Calvin Klein Estate—Southampton

Ken Griffin, a hedge fund manager, closed on an $84 million deal to buy designer Calvin Klein’s Hamptons estate. The property, around seven acres, is on Meadow Lane in Southampton. Klein custom-built the house in 2003, and it features modern architecture.

The property itself was once home to an estate referred to as Dragon Head and was at one point owned by the DuPont family.

Neighboring Trousdale Estates—Los Angeles

A company associated with Terry Gou, a Taiwanese billionaire, bought two Trousdale Estates properties in Los Angeles. For the homes combined, there was a price tag of $75.5 million. The buyer might ultimately combine the properties into what would become among the largest compounds in the Hollywood Hills.

The first home has six bedrooms and is 17,000 square feet. The second home is 16,000 square feet.

Waterfront Estate—Palm Beach

Palm Beach real estate has been on fire this year, which is especially true as the year is coming to a close.

Robb E. Turner, an energy entrepreneur, sold his lakefront estate in Palm Beach for $71.85 million in June. The home is from the 1930s and was designed by architect John L. Volt.

The property was purchased through a limited liability company.

Kennedy Winter White House—Palm Beach

In June, a home formerly owned by the Kennedy family and used by President John F. Kennedy as a winter estate sold for $70 million. A real estate developer purchased it. The seller was billionaire Jane Goldman, who bought it for $31 million in 2015.

It’s a 15,000-square foot Mediterranean home located on North Ocean Boulevard.

A few other notable transactions in 2020 include the sale of a Hamptons Compound designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects for $67 million and a home in Montecito, which sold for $63.25 million.

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