America's rich flog off dream homes

And guess who owns 'the biggest and the best'? David Usborne explores the 10 costliest homes on the market in the United States and discovers a distinct streak of 'ridiculosity'
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The Independent US

Scan the 10 most expensive homes on the market in the US today, and it is no surprise that the dwelling at the top of the list should belong to none other than Donald Trump, the high-living property tycoon and reality television star who never liked a number that ran to less than seven figures.

In this case, it is even bigger - $125m (£68m) for the over-the-top French Regency-style mansion, with 18 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms, smack on the water in Palm Beach, Florida.

And don't imagine he is kidding. "The Donald" has made clear he won't accept a cent less for the house, which he bought at a bankruptcy auction in 2004 for a mere $41.25m.

According to Forbes magazine, which published the top 10 list of priciest homes currently for sale, the Trump estate is the most expensive property ever to have come on the market in America, and possibly the world. Coming in a humble second is Portabello, a mansion shaped like a nautilus shell and perched above a beach in Corona del Mar, south of Los Angeles. Yours for a mere $75m.

America may be experiencing a slowdown of recently rocketing home prices, but you wouldn't think so looking at the Forbes roster. These are for the shockingly rich only. To be granted a viewing by the agents for Portabello, you must first prove that you have $500m in cash and annual earnings of $10m or more.

Clearly, there is still some exuberance in the American property market, at least in the upper atmosphere. Forbes notes that while the median price of its top 10 homes last year was $58.1m, this year it has shot up to $71.5m. But that is thanks, in part, to the gargantuan expectations of Mr Trump.

"It's just a fantastic piece of property," boasts the tycoon, who admittedly has given the place a major makeover since buying it. "The biggest site. The biggest ocean front. The best location in Palm Beach. And Palm Beach is the richest community in the world." Though be warned: lighting fixtures are not included.

After examining the houses, Peter York, the social commentator, Independent on Sunday columnist and author of Dictators' Homes, pronounced most of them overblown for the British sensitivities.

"The experience of living in them might be mind-turning," he said. "The only excuse an Englishman can have walking around places like these is if they are seriously old or have a connection. Otherwise you feel a little silly."

He did fancy number 10 on the list, however, a posh neo-French Renaissance townhouse built in 1896 between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Manhattan's Upper East Side, a relative snip at $55m.

What sellers ask, they don't necessary get, of course, even if their name is Trump. Three Ponds, a sprawling estate in the Hamptons on Long Island is tied at number two, but has lingered on the Forbes list, unsold, for several years.

Another tough one to shift, apparently, is number four, a triplex with soaring ceilings and black marble stairs atop the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, priced at $70m. "I think one would experience a certain amount of ridiculosity walking about in there," said York.

THE TRUMP ESTATE Palm Beach, Florida, $125m

'It's just fantastic' says Trump of his 18-bedroom, 22-bathroom mansion, with 475 feet of waterfront - 'the biggest ocean front in the world'

THREE PONDS FARM ESTATE Bridgehampton, New York, $75m

Named for its lakes, Three Ponds also has its own golf course amid 60 acres of Hamptons farmland. But the joint number two has lingered unsold for years

THE PORTABELLO ESTATE Corona del Mar, California, $75m

With its triple ocean-front lot and 30,000 sq ft of ultra-modern space, Portabello also boasts a 'dramatic' grotto surrounded by 'chambers'