Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s Red Gate Farm, Martha’s Vinyard
Despite its name, Martha’s Vineyard is not known for its winemaking. An island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, it’s regarded as a summer colony for affluent Americans, not dissimilar to the Hamptons. Many of the houses found on the island are designed in the Cape-Cod style, and Red Gate Farm is no exception. Acquired in 1979 by none other than Mrs Jacqueline Onassis, the 375-acre estate comes with over a mile of Atlantic Ocean beachfront near the famous Cliffs of Gay Head. Built as a summer home and refuge for her children and grandchildren, “Aquinnah gave her the chance to create a world where she could be so close to nature” wrote Caroline Kennedy, her daughter. On the market for $65 million, the new owners will not be the island’s sole inhabitants – the Obama’s also have a home on the island which they bought last year.
Brigitte Bardot’s Cannes Country House, South of France
By the time she moved into this 13th-century stone country house in 1958, Brigitte Bardot was one of the world’s most famous stars. Legend has it local boys would attempt to scale the walls of the manor to try and get a glimpse of the French beauty. Within walking distance of the quaint village of Peymeinade, the property has dramatic panoramas over the Estérel Mountains and Cannes Bay, not to mention the olive groves and cypress trees within its grounds.
The Heinz family’s Minor Cay, The Bahamas
In the early 1970s, Mrs Heinz, of the famous ketchup family, dreamed of a modernist villa on three levels, with a swimming pool on the ground floor. The family built her dream home in Lyford Cay, an exclusive gated community in The Bahamas. The house was christened Minor Cay and the Heinz family entertained there throughout the year. It attracted a glittering coterie of friends including Jackie Kennedy, who would visit to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi. She was joined by her sister, Lee Radziwill, and Slim Aarons shot iconic photos of the Radziwill children at the house in the early 1970s. Minor Cay was then sold to American sculptor John Safer in the 1980s. The elegant 5,740-square-foot, three-story residence was completely refurbished in 2017 by interior designer Amanda Lindroth.
Stunning celebrity homes that aren’t for sale
George Clooney’s Villa Oleandra, Lake Como
Lake Como used to be the preserve of the aristocracy, noble Italian families and old Hollywood. Then in 2001, an American called George Clooney arrived and put the Y-shaped lake back in the spotlight. He didn’t purchase any old villa though – he went for gold and settled on Villa Oleandra, which he purchased for a mere 7 million euros. Since then, he’s had visitors like the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Obamas. Attention from the paparazzi was so bad at one point, the mayor had to introduce a €600 fine for anyone caught loitering and Clooney considered selling his beloved home (which is now worth at least four times as much as its original value). Originally built in 1720, the previous owner of the villa was the Heinz ketchup family estate.
Victor Lownes’s Stocks House, Hertfordshire
It may come as a surprise that the late Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles isn’t the only house associated with Playboy. Built in 1773, Stocks House’s early residents were far less scandalous than its future owners. In the late 1800s, it was occupied by various members of the aristocracy including Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, who served as British Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States. Grey inherited the stately pile from his grandfather in 1891. By 1944, the house became the location of a finishing school for upper-class girls. In 1972 it became a hedonistic mecca when Victor Lownes, the American executive of Playboy, purchased the house for £115,000. 25-hour parties were held, with the likes of John Cleese, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson and Bryan Ferry attending, dipping into what was rumoured to be the largest jacuzzi in the country.
Gianni Versace’s Villa Fontanelle, Lake Como
Another home on the shores of Lake Como, Villa Fontanelle was originally built by the eccentric Lord Currie, who failed to find a villa to his liking when he visited Lake Como. It was subsequently owned by Antonio Bessana, a friend of the composer Giuseppe Verdi. In 1977, Gianni Versace purchased the villa which, by that point, had been divided into apartments and was much neglected. He personally took care of the restoration into its original neoclassical state over three years and embellished the home with his personal collection of art. Here, he received many celebrity guests such as Lady Diana and Elton John. After his homicide, the villa became a shrine to the designer and remained empty until 2008, when it was acquired by Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov.