Things That Make You Go Hmm: bin Laden Real Estate Edition

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From the mailbag:

"I think I have a solution for the housing problem. All we need to do is hire the people who appraised Bin Laden's hideout at $1 million. Seriously, it's an odd shaped lot, with uneven fences, no phone lines or internet connection, crumbling walls, cheap plastic garden furniture, in a country with a per capita GDP of $2,700. Unless the place comes with a cone of silence or room of invisibility, I don't see how that could be worth $1 million.

And if it is, either the dollar is more worthless than I thought or my home might actually be worth more than I paid for it. I'm sure the mock-up the government built for training cost more than a million, but that's more a function of our government's great ability to overpay for anything they do. I find it hard to believe that hideout was worth that much, and don't really understand why every news report likes to focus on that largely meaningless number."

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Last year, Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, gave the California housing market a boost when she bought 90210 widow Candy Spelling's 57,000 square foot mansion for $85 million, as a crash pad for when she's in Los Angeles (she also owns a six-story house in London’s Chelsea neighborhood purchased for £56 million). Around the same time, Petra's sister, Tamara, paid $70 million for "a 16,000-square-foot historic brick home across the road from Kensington Palace." And while some would simply write the Sisters Ecclestone off as spoiled rich girls whose parents have footed the bill for these places (mom is Slavica Radic, a former Croatian model who lent Petra $82.4 million for the LA house), the Wall Street Journal sees what the haters will not: a couple of savvy investors who you might consider asking to manage your money. In an interview with the paper, which dubbed the Sisters Ecclestone "The First New Family of Real Estate," Tamara explained her investment thesis: Wearing Lululemon yoga pants and a fitted hoodie, Ms. Ecclestone sat in her living room, overlooking an outdoor lap pool, and explained that she sees their real estate holdings as smart purchases. "I think London [property] is a really good investment," she said. "There's no bank in the world that can give you that return." Ecclestone also shared some pearls of wisdom re: dealing with critics looking to bring you down, of which her fellow billionaires, newly minted or old, should take note. Last year Ms. Ecclestone starred in a reality program about her life called "Billion $$ Girl." One episode depicted her taking her dogs to Harrod's for facials and pedicures. Another shows her debating cancelling a meeting because she woke up with a pimple on her face. Her participation in the show, in the midst of a recession, drew criticism from many, including her father. Mr. Ecclestone said he could barely make it through one episode. "I spoke to her before and said… 'They're never going to show you in a good light,' " he said. "She was stupid to do it." Ms. Ecclestone took the criticisms in stride. "It's like water off a duck's back," she said. The First New Family Of Real Estate [WSJ]