Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the second-richest person in the world, boasts a lavish real estate portfolio.
Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, recently added to their extensive real estate holdings with a $43 million purchase in Del Mar, CA, about 20 miles north of San Diego. The splashy beach retreat with 120 feet of ocean frontage is one of the most expensive sales of all time in the area.
The 5,800-square-foot residence with ocean views features six bedrooms, plus two guesthouses. Upscale amenities include a health spa, glass-tiled pool, home theater, tennis court, and a 10-person hot tub.
The splurge on an oceanfront property prompted us to take a look at the philanthropic power couple’s other real estate holdings.
They are widely known for their largesse, most recently in response to the coronavirus threat. As they’ve been dispensing cash through their foundation, they’ve also been spending some of their wealth on a collection of posh properties.
Even if you’re not running the latest version of Windows, you should join us on a tour of Gates’ housing portfolio.
Medina is the site of the most massive Gates estate. Located just outside Seattle, the home has been dubbed “Xanadu 2.0,” after the fictional mansion in the movie “Citizen Kane.”
Measuring 66,000 square feet, the palatial home took more than seven years and a reported $60 million to build.
Loaded with high-tech innovations and opulent amenities, the estate was valued at $131 million last year. That’s likely to be on the low side, given the scope of what Gates has built.
In 1988, Gates purchased what was then a 5-acre property for just $2.05 million, with plans to build his dream home. The property on Lake Washington grew to incorporate additional parcels that Gates bought up to create a buffer around his estate.
Inside, the modern mansion’s extensive technology has taken on an almost mythic quality. While we don’t know if there are any robot butlers or Jetsons-style hovercrafts, the home does have some futuristic features.
They include a 60-foot pool that flows outdoors and has music piped in underwater. An article from 1997 touts the “miles of fiber-optic cable … strung inside the walls and crawl spaces.”
It’s also equipped with touch pads in every room to control the environment, and sensors that customize temperature, lighting, and even music to follow you from room to room.
It’s also an eco-friendly, “earth-sheltered” house, for efficient climate control.
Within the compound, there’s a formal dining room measuring 1,000 square feet. For larger events, a 2,300 square-foot reception hall can seat 150.
A separate building houses a 2,500-square-foot gym, which is part of a fitness facility that includes a trampoline room with 20-feet ceilings.
The home also includes a library with a domed roof that includes a Leonardo da Vinci manuscript that he picked up at auction for $30.8 million. A 1,500-square-foot home theater seats 20 in plush, art deco-style seats and couches.
Indian Wells, CA
When not bouncing around in a trampoline room, the Gates family may want to hit the links, or at least entertain potential clients at a fancy private club in the desert.
In 1999, the billionaire plunked down $12.5 million for a mansion in the ultra-exclusive Vintage Club in Indian Wells, CA. The posh town, known for its annual tennis tournament, sits next to La Quinta, CA—a different desert hot spot for A-listers.
Gates’ spread in the Coachella Valley sits on 1.33 acres in the guard-gated club conveniently adjacent to a golf course designed by Tom Fazio.
The club bills itself as “one of the United States’ most prestigious and ultra-exclusive private country club communities.”
If you have to ask about the fee to join the Vintage Club, well, you know how the cliché goes. But we did learn that the initiation fee is reportedly $250,000, with annual dues running $34,000 for members.
Built in 1993, the Gates mansion measures in at 13,573 square feet, and includes six bedrooms, along with 11 bathrooms.
Following up on his land grab in the Pacific Northwest, Gates has bought up his fair share of property in the horse-lovin’ haven of Wellington, FL. He bought a spread in the area to support his daughter Jennifer, who is a competitive show jumper.
In March 2016, he picked up a pricey property close to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for $13.5 million.
The home features four bedroom suites, a 16-stall equestrian facility, plus a pool and spa. The listing details for the home played up its appeal to equine aficionados, touting it as within “walking distance to the Winter Equestrian Festival and Global Dressage Festival grounds.”
Then in May 2016, we reported that Gates had snapped up two empty lots on the same street for $5 million. At that point, Gates had bought up four of the six properties in a quiet court within the guard-gated Mallet Hill community.
However, the tech mogul might be downsizing in Florida—just a bit. He sold one of his four properties in Wellington last year for $8.7 million. And he clearly wasn’t concerned about ROI—that’s the exact price he paid in 2013 for the 7,234-square-foot home that kicked off his Wellington buying spree.
Hobe Sound, FL
According to the listing details, the nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion on 5.24 acres features 200 feet of direct Intracoastal frontage and a private yacht dock.
After the family turned their attention to Wellington, this mansion came on the market for $6.6 million in 2012. It eventually sold in 2013 for $5 million.
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Never done with horsing around, Gates purchased another equestrian estate in 2014 for $18 million. Once owned by the weight-loss guru Jenny Craig, the massive horse facility, called Rancho Paseana, totals 229 acres.
Gates intended to turn the compound into a hunting and jumping training facility for his daughter.
“The family has enjoyed visiting the San Diego area with friends and family for many years, and has purchased the Rancho Paseana property in Rancho Santa Fe,” a spokesperson for the Gates family told Forbes in a statement at the time.
It looks as if the Gates’ love for the area has blossomed, with the family’s recent purchase of the Del Mar beach retreat.
The property is close to the Del Mar Race Track. Craig, the weight-loss queen, and her husband, Sid Craig, owned the ranch and an adjoining luxury estate for decades, before it made it onto the market in 2010, after Sid Craig passed away.
After initially offering it for $30 million, Craig reduced the price to $25 million before taking it off the market in 2012. She opted to quietly shop the property in search of a buyer who would continue to use it for horses, rather than develop the land for housing or a golf course.
The expansive space contains a main house, a three-quarter-mile racetrack, as well as four 30-stall barns and a fifth barn with 21 stalls, a veterinarian’s area, two staff apartments, and an olive orchard.
Yellowstone Mountain Club, Big Sky, MT
As you might imagine, when Bill Gates hits the slopes, he prefers privacy, security, and exclusivity. He can find that at the Yellowstone Mountain Club near Big Sky, MT.
The swanky ski club just north of Yellowstone National Park includes a members-only mountain, no lines at the ski lift, and pristine powder.
To become a member (and Gates reportedly is one) requires a $300,000 initiation fee and upward of $37,000 a year in dues. Oh, and you must buy a home within the community.
Prices start at $4 million for a condo and range from $5 million to $25 million for a single-family home.
The ski-in, ski-out dwellings include high-end features like “ski rooms with individual lockers, heated driveways, bunk rooms and $5,000 boot dryers,” according to The New York Times. Only members, their families, and guests can access the club, which adjoins the Gallatin National Forest.
In the winter, skiing is plentiful. For warmer months, there’s an 18-hole golf course. And you can leave your security detail at home. The club’s security team is managed by a former Secret Service officer.
Along with the Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, and Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have also been members. In addition to the outdoor activities, an upscale lodge includes a restaurant, spa, fitness center, and pool.
You can rest assured that the place will never be overrun. Membership is capped at 864 households, according to the Times. If you can’t have your own personal mountain, this could be the next best thing.