October is Luxury Month at Inman, and this is the second in a 5-part series looking at the high end market. Check back tomorrow for the biggest luxury beach sales of 2021, and click here to see how the luxury housing market became invincible in 2021. Then join us for Luxury Connect at the Aria Hotel (Oct. 25-26, 2021) and the live presentation of the Inman Golden I Club honorees for this year.
The mountains are calling — or at least they did for a number of big spenders in 2021. Ski resort towns like Aspen and Vail were just as popular as beach properties with ultra-rich buyers looking for places to wait out the pandemic.
While the biggest mountain sale of the year is an 80,000-square-foot Montana ranch that spans four separate counties, much smaller estates and vacation properties in popular ski and mountain resorts are seeing both demand and home values soar at lightning speed.
The biggest residential sale in the history of Aspen took place when retired Canadian hockey player Patrick Dovigi paid $72.5 million for a 21,476-square-foot home at the base of Red Mountain. And mountains shouldn’t only be used to mean Aspen or Vail — a number of high-profile sales have taken place everywhere from the Galisteo Basin in New Mexico to the Red Rock Mountains off the Las Vegas Strip and the Hihimanu, Namolokama and Mamalahoa mountain peaks on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
See our list of the biggest luxury mountain sales to take place so far in 2021 below:
Three Forks, Montana
The biggest mountain sale of the year took place when Climbing Arrow Ranch entered contract to sell for its asking price $136.25 million. Located just outside of Bozeman in the Rocky Mountains, the estate that is enormous in size — it spans 79,483 acres and four separate counties.
It was built in 1905 and, along with acres of free land, contains an owner’s home, corrals, workshops, employee residences, sheds, barns and guest houses. Its territory runs through irrigated hay meadows along the Madison River, grazing fields for cattle and limestone cliffs — pastoral beauty that made the property star in “A River Runs Through It,” a 1992 movie directed by Robert Redford.
The property sold within a week of being listed in May but to buyers who protected their identity through an LLC (it is confirmed that they are American buyers, though). While this type of ranch seems to exist in its own category of real estate, it is by far the most expensive purchase to take place in the Rocky Mountains in 2021 and the most expensive real estate sale ever in Montana. Mike Swan of Swan Land Co. was the listing agent representing the property.
One of the biggest sales — both mountain and overall — took place when Whatsapp founder Jan Koum bought a Malibu mansion located at 27560 Pacific Coast Highway for $87 million in February. Nestled against the Santa Monica Mountains on three sides with views of Paradise Cove, the two-home estate spans six acres, several stories and is protected from curious eyes by tall trees.
Bosnian-born socialite Diana Jenkins was the last owner of the home. The home was originally listed for $125 million in 2020; Chris Cortazzo of Compass held the listing while Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency represented Koum.
Media mogul Barry Diller and country music star Kenny Rogers both owned the property at different points. Worth an estimated $10 billion, Koum paid $100 million for the Malibu home of longtime NBCUniversal executive Ron Meyer in 2019 and $125 million for the Beverly Hills mansion of Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The sale is most likely the biggest sale to be registered in Southern California this year.
Pacific Palisades, California
Developer Ardie Tavangarian’s mega spec mansion spans numerous categories — it has views of the water, the mountains and is located in the heart of LA’s Pacific Palisades.
But the estate, located at 1601 San Onofre Drive, sits atop of a hill amid the Santa Monica Mountains, thus landing it a spot in our round-up of the year’s biggest mountain sales.
Spanning 20,000 square feet, six bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, the ultra-modern property appears as if it’s built into the hilltop, with an abundance of greenery, including both landscaped grounds and the surrounding forest, incorporated into everything from the rooftop to the pool and parking.
The sale took place entirely off the market, and the seller’s identity has not been revealed but the website Dirt leaked that it is a billionaire who made his fortune through cryptocurrency.
The biggest sale in the history of Aspen took place when retired Canadian hockey player Patrick Dovigi paid $72.5 million for a 21,476-square-foot home designed by Charles Cunnife Architects. The property has 11 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and sits on over four acres of land.
Seller Lewis A. Sanders, founder and chief executive of New York investment firm Sanders Capital, had owned the home since buying it in 2009 for $43 million and did not list it on the MLS. The sale took place off-market with Douglas Elliman’s Tal and Oren Alexander referring the transaction to local agent Riley Warwick.
The listing described it as a “clean and contemporary style” that makes ample use of its mountain surroundings. Sitting at the base of Aspen’s Red Mountain, the house boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the range.
Galisteo Basin, New Mexico
At the very start of the year, an ultra-stylish ranch belonging to fashion designer Tom Ford sold for $48 million after nearly four years on the market.
Located in the Galisteo Basin outside Santa Fe, the 20,662-acre estate known as Cerro Pelon Ranch appeared in films such as “Silverado,” “All The Pretty Horses” and “Thor.” A main concrete house with floor-to-ceiling glass windows is set against the backdrop of both the New Mexico desert and the Cerro Pelon mountains.
Designed by famed architect Tadao Ando, the ranch has been made to look like it blends into its natural surroundings — the light and landscape are reflected in the materials and a wide reflective pool that looks almost like a pond.
Cerro Pelon Ranch is both ones biggest mountain sales seen so far in 2021 as well as one of the biggest in New Mexico’s history. Because residential sales in New Mexico do not enter public record, news of Cerro Pelon Ranch’s sale broke when New York Compass real estate agent Clayton Orrigo posted about it on Instagram. He and local agent Neil Lyon represented the buyer, who chose to remain anonymous, while Kevin Bobolsky of Santa Fe’s Kevin Bobolsky’s Group worked with Ford.
While very little information about the sale has been covered by the press, a 12,312-square-foot, seven-bedroom house located at 600 Owl Creek Ranch Road in Aspen closed for $40 million on April 5.
The estate likely sold not for the main house but for its 60-acre lot which sits right at the foot of Aspen Mountain, the Snowmass Ski Area and Mount Daly. Such a big piece of land could be used to build anything from a large personal ranch to a resort. Property taxes on the house would add up to around $52,000 per year.
The listing agent was Compass’ Doug Leibiner but it is not clear who either the seller or the buyer were.
Two months after listing his Colorado mountain ranch, actor Tom Cruise sold it for exactly what he asked for it: $39.5 million. Nestled up against Campbell Peak within a forest of aspens, 115 Francisco Way is immense — 320 acres of land — and has a main house that Cruise designed himself in the 1990s.
Constructed in native stone and cedar, the property was completed in 1994 and features all that you’d associate with a luxury ski resort: wood-beamed ceilings, wood-paneled walls and stone fireplaces. A lifelong adrenaline junkie, Cruise frequently stayed at the ranch to ski in the winter and mountain bike in the summer.
LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s Eric Lavey and Dan Dockray represented the listing. At the time it was listed, Dockray told Inman that a number of mountain enthusiasts were particularly interested in the estate due not to its connection to Cruise but its size as prices in mountain towns like Telluride continue to skyrocket.
“Scarcity always drives value, and in this case, the ability to duplicate this assemblage of contiguous parcels in a location as desirable as Telluride is extremely rare in 2021,” Dockray told Inman in March.
At the start of October, the residential part of a downtown Aspen property sold to a buyer protected by an LLC for $36.5 million. The 8,771-square-foot property contains six bedrooms bedrooms, nine full baths and one half-bathroom, and is perched atop office space (not included in the transaction) used by The Aspen Times and owned by Colorado Mountain News Media.
The seller, who is based in Texas and also protected by an LLC, is connected to Boston-based Hexagon Properties and linked to one of the owners of the Boston Celtics and Sandy Edgerley, a senior adviser at Bain Capital. Coldwell Banker’s Carrie Wells was the listing agent facilitating the transaction.
“At the turn of the century, during Aspen’s silver mining days, prospectors in the area referred to discovering a significant vein, or ‘lode,’ of silver as ‘hitting the mother lode,'” reads the listing description. “Today, the same may be said about acquiring this rare, 8,771-square-foot legacy property with 2,585 square feet of outdoor private decks in the heart of Aspen’s downtown core.”
Another property whose sale was kept painstakingly private, the estate at 332 Mill Creek Circle closed for a selling price of $34 million back in May. The house has seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and a grand total of nine fireplaces.
While built in a modern style with floor-to-ceiling windows, it still gives off the air of a ski chalet due to an abundance of chimneys and fireplaces. Located not far from Vail’s Gondola One, the home also features 360-degree views of different peaks in the Vail Area. Other features include an artificial intelligence automation system throughout the house, a hot tub, wellness room, wet bar, three car garage and even its own ski lounge with lockers.
Vail’s Ron Byrne & Associates were the last to represent the property while no information about either the seller or the buyer has been made public.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Far from your typical Los Angeles spec mansion, many of these mountain properties are luxurious because of their sheer amount of untouched land. In June, a Pagosa Springs ranch spanning more than 9,600 acres sold for $33.5 million to Dallas-based Service First Mortgage Shawn Broussard.
Known locally as Piedra Valley Ranch, the estate is 275 miles southwest of Denver, surrounded by the San Juan National Forest while Corral Mountain and Wolf Creek Ski Area, and full of creeks, lakes, trees and animals such as elk and deer. The listing description, held by Cody Lujan of Hall and Hall, describes it as “a large, contiguous block of beautiful and essentially untouched land in immediate proximity to one of Colorado’s favorite mountain communities.”
While the sky-high cost of its real estate values mean Montecito properties can dominate any “biggest sales of the year” list, the property at 1104 Channel Drive sits right at the foot of both the Santa Ynez mountains — residents will be able to see them from any spot in the house.
The five-bedroom, 8,751-square-foot property sold for $31.25 million back in March. The house was built in 2008 in the California contemporary resort style and has a pool, a spa, three outdoor fire pits, a five-car garage and a 746,000-square-foot cabana.
“Rare expansive Pacific Ocean, Channel Island, and Santa Barbara Harbor views backdropped with the sound of the waves crashing at this contemporary home with elegant architecture set on a magical 1.13 acres,” reads the listing description.
The listing agent was Phyllis Noble of BHHS California Properties but the seller was not revealed.
While it was not widely publicized, one of Vail’s biggest sales of the year took place when a six-bedroom, 11,000-square-foot property on 0.88 acres of land sold for $30.5 million in October. Created in the mountain contemporary style, the property is right in the heart of Vail Village and sits at the foot of Gore Creek.
The interior design, which is done in muted tones to complement the forest and mountain views, was created by Worth Interiors. Other interesting features of the home include oak and limestone siding, a heated driveway and a large terrace jutting out into the surrounding trees.
Catherine Jones Coburn and Donna Caynoski of Vail Real Estate held the listing.
In August, a 22,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom Calabasas home by developer Michael Palumbo went to an anonymous buyer. The luxury developer had initially listed the home at 25345 Prado de la Felicidad for $38 million in October and brought it down to $34 million before the latest buyer scooped it up for $30 million.
The town of Calabasas runs through Calabasas Peak of the Santa Monica Mountains and, being no exception, this home offers ample views — the outdoor fire pit, in particular, offers some head-spinning mountain views on all sides.
The rest of the house is heavy on amenities, including a spa, a putting green, an indoor basketball court, a home theater, a 10-car garage and an infinity pool. There’s also a separate maid’s wing and guest casita.
The listing was held by Tomer Fridman of the Fridman Group at Compass and Branden and Rayni Williams of Beverly Hills Estates. The sale also marks the most expensive in the San Fernando Valley, a record previously held by another $22.9 million spec mansion sold in 2019.
Elk Island Ranch, a 6,343-acre ranch outside of Colorado’s Kremmling, sold for $30 million at the very start of the year, three years after being listed for $36 million.
Seller and venture capitalist Charlie Gallagher purchased the ranch for $24.3 million in 1999 and spent the next two decades expanding it. The 16,000-square-foot main lodge was built for Gallagher by the Montana-based Kibo Group Architecture.
Along with the main house, the ranch has a 10,500-square-foot party barn called the Nevada House Saloon that can be used for events (it has a dance floor and a bar) as well as Wild West-type activities (it is decorate with hunting mounts and trophies).
To hammer the off-the-grid theme home, the estate also has a 1,400-square-foot heated storage facility for equipment that comes with the property such as a plow truck, snowcats, tractor, ATVs and snowmobiles.
Denver real estate firm Hall and Hall represented the property while the seller was protected by an LLC.
Another major Aspen sale took place in April when a 9,429-square-foot home at the foot of the mountains sold for $27.5 million to a buyer who shielded himself through the Ajoy Aspen LLC. The sale is not the biggest in Aspen this year but is unique because it took place entirely online — Coldwell Banker’s Carrie Wells, who worked with the sellers, sold it through remote viewings and interactions with the buyers.
The property offers views of Red Mountain, Smuggler, Hunter Creek, Independence Pass and the town of Aspen all at once. It is designed with an open floor plan and has seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms and was built by architectural firm Madigan+Co.
“There is nothing ‘little’ about this spectacular retreat on Little Cloud Trail,” Wells said in a press release at the time of the sale. “Not only is it a gorgeous, relaxing sanctuary in the mountains but also offers innumerable entertaining possibilities.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
The most expensive sale in the history of Las Vegas took place in June when a 15,000-square-foot mansion built by developing company Blue Heron sold for $25 million. Contrary to most transactions of this caliber, the buyer did not try to conceal his identity through an LLC.
LoanDepot founder Anthony Hsieh was the one who made the purchase as part of an off-market agreement with the developers — he agreed to immediately to lease it back to Blue Heron for 30 months so that the company can showcase its design and use it as a show home to market other properties.
Known as Vegas Modern 001, it is built out of wood and stone and decorated with metaquartzite stones. Three of its en-suite bedrooms boast views of both the Las Vegas strip and the Red Rock Mountains.
While the home has ample amenities, the biggest luxury is perhaps the use of water in the Nevada desert — pools lead up to the main entrance and give the impression that the entire living area is floating.
There’s also indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as an outdoor shower and hot tub. Some 300 solar panels have been placed on the roof to make use of Nevada’s desert sun for its energy needs.
The second-biggest sale in the history of Arizona was cemented in February when a Mediterranean-style six-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bathroom luxury estate built in 2017 sold to an unidentified buyer for $21 million.
The reason this Arizona home is in the mountain list? It sits at the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale and features views of the range from its many windows. Built to maximize the views, the home also includes a diving pool, spa, fire pit and outdoor kitchen.
When she listed the home for $27.5 million in October 2020, Realtor Lisa Westcott of Silverleaf Realty had been hoping to win the spot of the biggest real estate sale to ever take place in Arizona but that title is still held by a Spanish-style estate at the foot of the same mountains that sold for $24 million in 2020. Russ Lyon of Sotheby’s International Realty worked with the buyer.
While the 8,200-square-foot Hawaiian estate that rocker Carlos Santana bought for $20.5 million in July could also fall under the category of beach due to its proximity to the water, it sits right at the intersection of the Hihimanu, Namolokama and Mamalahoa mountain peaks.
Located in the Princeville enclave on Kauai’s North Shore, the house is an extravagant example of the indoor-outdoor architectural style — walls of glass doors lead to a large lanai while the windows offer panoramic views of both the mountains and the water of Hanalei Bay. Santana bought the home from Canadian entrepreneur Brent Naylor and his wife Gayle Naylor.
The property also comes with over 1,500 square feet of outdoor space and a pool. While Santana’s primary home is in Las Vegas, he frequently comes to Hawaii (he bought another property on the same island for $8 million this year) — the home’s expansive mountain views are precisely what attracted Santana to the property, listing agent Neal Norman of Hawai’i Life told the Wall Street Journal.
Woody Creek, Colorado
A mountain ranch with not one but seven separate homes sold for $20 million in April after more than a year and a half on the market. Nicknamed 2 Mile Ranch, the estate sits on over 244 acres of land outside of Aspen.
The time between listing and sale (482 days in total) is somewhat unusual in a market which has surged in popularity amid the pandemic but, as Compass listing agent Lane Johnson told the Denver Business Journal, it is a bit different from buying a regular house. Maintenance costs can run over $1 million a year while the multiple buildings make it a better fit for something like a spa or a space for retreats than a vacation home.
“Thank goodness we just ran into a local guy who lives down the street that decided, you know, why not just pick up another 250 acres,” Johnson said. (The buyer’s identity was protected by four separate LLCs.) And indeed, five months after the sale, the site for 2 Mile Ranch says that it has been available to rent since September 1.
A luxury chalet right in the Aspen Highlands sold for a cool $16.9 million in April, after ski season ended for the year. Designed by celebrity Aspen architect Rob Sinclair, the 9,036-square-foot house follows the ski-in, ski-out style with the backyard opening onto a ski lift. It sits on two-thirds of an acre and, along with five en-suite bedrooms, it has a media room, a billiards room, an exercise area, a spa and a bar
Joshua Saslove of Douglas Elliman’s Saslove and Warwick was the listing agent representing the property. It last switched hands in 2019 for around $12 million so the home value has soared fast.
“The property is irreplaceable because it’s under the ski lift, and one end of it opens to protected property, so it’s like having endless space,” Saslove told Mansion Global. “It’s also private — it’s at the end of a dead-end road. And the finishes, which include high-end millwork, are outstanding.”