How much does it cost to own a piece of the dream in Aspen? Depends on how deep your pockets are. We’ve assembled a list of 10 fairytale properties currently on the market. With a whopping price tag between $25,000,000 and $60,000,000, these opulent Aspen estates are truly for the well-heeled.
In Aspen “living the dream,” is not just a catchphrase; it’s a lifestyle. Financially successful individuals and families swarm here to cash in on a Gatsby-like vision of the American Dream by purchasing trophy real estate. Many are only occupied for one or two weeks a year. This phenomenon of tony mountain vacation homes worth jaw-dropping prices is deeply woven into the threadwork of Aspen’s modern identity, earning a certain cache in the American public’s imagination as a pleasure-loving alpine playground.
Aspen has recently managed to defy a nationwide spike in foreclosures and declining property values. In April 2009, Forbes magazine declared Aspen’s 81611 ZIP code the most expensive real estate market in the United States. According to Forbes, the median sale price for a home in Aspen chimes in at a fat 6.5 million dollars, a dwarfing the 3.99 million dollar average for a home in Snowmass Village or the 3.4 million dollar average down valley in Old Snowmass, which ranked a respectable fourth and seventh on the list.
For most of America, astronomical real estate prices in Aspen are another absurd storyline in the kabuki-like lives of the fabulously rich, like country clubs with multimillion-dollar dues fees or flying in a private jet to St. Barths for a weekend on the whim. Nonetheless, property transaction is big business in Aspen. Cumulative real estate sales in the area were a fat 2.5 billion dollars in 2007. Despite an ongoing national recession and a major market plunge in 2008, property sales are expected to rake in over a billion dollars in 2009.
The endless saga of Aspen’s colorful and luxurious real estate market can generate a town-wide wildfire of buzz, gossip, and lore, much like a giggly high school cafeteria in the weeks leading up to prom. For example, real estate circles around the world gasped in July 2006 when Saudi Prince Bandar’s Hala Ranch went on the market for a record-breaking 135 million dollars, at the time the most expensive home in United States history. Bandar’s Aspen ranch sits in a section known as Starwood, a gated community off McLain Flats Road on a mesa between Aspen and Woody Creek. The property boasts dramatic vistas of the Elk Range and the Woody Creek Canyon, as well as a 56,000-square-foot mansion, amongst other bells and whistles. In December 2007, Florida-based real estate and casino developer Jeffrey Soffer purchased Bandar’s 14,395- square-foot guest home on 66.6 acres for a $36.5 million, smashing another Aspen real estate record. Billionaire Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich came close to usurping the Aspen real estate throne by purchasing a 36.3 million dollar home on Wildcat Ridge in early 2008. In July 2009, a 20,000-plus square foot mansion at the base of Red Mountain sold for a record breaking $43 million, setting a record for the most expensive single family residence in Aspen. Elsewhere, rumors abound of mega-million dollar estate owners buying high end condos in downtown Aspen and Snowmass Village within close proximity to the lifts for a pragmatic space to stash ski gear. Perhaps these make for some of the most expensive ski lockers in the world.
Coming this week in an Aspen.com exclusive feature, we’ve corralled a list of the ten most expensive and noteworthy properties currently on the market in the region, all of which require dishing out some serious cash. Four of the properties on our list have a higher price tag than the $52 million RockResorts paid in May 2007 to acquire the Hotel Jerome, arguably Aspen’s most cherished landmark. These estates are the ultimate in lush extravagance, defining what it means to live the dream in Aspen.
Click on the links below to find out more about some of Aspen's most luxurious homes.