It was revealed during their divorce last year that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt owned no fewer than 12 multimillion-dollar homes across the world. Now new research reveals that Jolie and Pitt are part of a growing “global citizen class” of multimillionaires who spend their lives jetting between multiple properties in the world’s most desirable locations.
The report, by the research firm Wealth-X, found that as private jet travel has become more accessible and faster internet speeds have made working from the beach or ski lodge more practical, the world’s wealthiest people are buying up multiple homes.
More than 10% of the world’s 212,625 ultra-high net worth individuals – defined as those with assets of at least $30m (£24m) – own five or more properties in addition to their main home, the research found. “More than ever before these homes of the wealthy will be spread far and wide, across different countries and continents,” the report, produced in partnership with the luxury estate agents Warburg Realty and Barnes International Realty, said.
Clelia Warburg Peters, the president of Warburg Realty and great-great-granddaughter of the financier Felix Warburg, said: “An emerging trend is the growth of the global citizen class, many of whom are extremely wealthy individuals who think of themselves as citizens of the world, as much as citizens of their home country.” She said they had a “huge degree of mobility” in their assets, but noted that there was a growing “political pushback against this class”.
The report said the growth in wealthy people’s multi-home portfolios had been driven by the growing ease of high-end travel. “The maturing private jet market in developing economies and the globalised nature of modern business have spurred demand for second [and often more] homes to fulfil the commercial, educational, and recreational needs of the ultra-wealthy and their families,” the report said.
The most popular cities for second homes are Hong Kong, for its proximity to China; London, which has recently recorded increased interest because of the weakening pound; Los Angeles, for celebrities and their admirers; New York; and Singapore.
Wealth-X said the number of rich people with more than five homes could easily be far higher than 21,000, because its research was compiled from publicly available data and would not count homes bought via trusts, offshore companies or owned in the name of a spouse or other relative.
Oxfam, which this week said the world’s eight richest people control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the global population, said the growing property portfolios were another sign of the global inequality crisis.
“An elite group are able to channel their wealth into multiple properties while millions of people don’t have a roof over their heads,” said Oxfam’s inequality policy adviser, Chiara Mariotti. “We need to rebalance our economies so they work in the interests of everyone – especially the poorest – for example by ensuring the super-rich pay their fair share towards the fight against poverty.”
London was named the most desireable city for the wealthy to buy property because of its personal and business safety, culture, education and shopping, and despite the government increasing stamp duty on second homes worth more than £1.5m to 15% last year. The report said a luxury residence in London was “widely regarded as a lifestyle necessity for the wealthy elite”.
More than 6,400 ultra-high net worth people live in London, the second-highest population after New York with 8,375. London’s super-rich, who are worth an average of $130m, are more diverse than New York’s, with 37% being non-British citizens compared with 26% non-US citizens in New York.
“London is truly an international playground for the world’s ultra-wealthy,” Warburg Peters said. “The wealthy want to buy properties that really make them feel like they’re in London.”
The fall in the value of the pound triggered by the Brexit vote and a recent boom in new luxury developments along the Thames are said to have created a “once-in-a-generation buying opportunity” in London.
“The ultra wealthy are a very international group of people and have businesses in lots of places and spend a lot of leisure time in lots of place,” Winston Chesterfield, a director of Wealth-X, said. “Not every single wealthy person buys a monopoly board of properties, but that is quite popular.”
He said a place on the beach and a ski lodge are the most popular property purchases – “and taken with a country house and town house, it doesn’t take long to get to five.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010