The Horse Haven Of The World’s Rich And Famous

Being rich and famous has its perks. You can buy whatever your heart wants and get access to the world’s top hotels and restaurants. Even the homes of the elite are a study in extremes: bigger is always better, and more is never enough.

But there’s one secret place where it isn’t about how big your house is — it’s about getting access to one of nature’s greatest gifts. When you see why the rich and famous make one town their secret retreat, you’ll be itching to visit for yourself…

Florida is home to the electric cultural retreat of Miami and the tourist-swarmed escape of Orlando. But nestled in the southern region is the quiet-yet-notorious city of Wellington, home to a host of wealthy eccentrics.

Even though Wellington, Florida, has a plain Jane sounding name that may not ring any bells for average ears, the famous and well connected have flocked to the city in outrageous numbers.

Chris Gold / Flickr

Palm trees and tropical temperatures aren’t the allure of this obscure getaway; frankly, there are dozens of continental hot spots with the same features. What sets Wellington apart for the richest percentage of the population is one thing — horses.

Luca De Vincentis / Flickr

 Purse pooches are a customary accessory for the wealthy elite, but their largest animal indulgence has to be horses. Every year, Wellington plays host to one of the biggest horse competitions in existence, the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Palm Beach Post

From January to April, horse mania is in full gallop in Wellington. Twelve weeks of rigorous equine challenges unite the swankiest and most upper-crust horse girls and boys in the game. 

Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

 The winner of the competition stands the chance of scooping up a healthy 9 million dollar title, but for the participants, that measly chunk of change stifles a yawn. These horse fans shell out much more to be close by and keyed into the action.

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Celebrities like Bruce Springsteen have quietly infiltrated the city for years and paid astronomical prices for their own seasonal hangouts. Real estate in Wellington is as hot as the temperature.

NJ

Mostly, Wellington residents are the children of the richest and most influential people you’ve ever heard of. Eve Jobs, Georgina Bloomberg, and Jennifer Springsteen are frequent competitors. Yes, their dads are exactly who you think they are.

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Other than those high profile horse girls, celebrities like Lorne Michaels, Tommy Lee Jones, and Bill Gates have relegated fractions of their fortunes to decadent horse friendly mansions.

 Obviously, the wealthy aren’t the only talented equestrians. Wellington sees its fair share of decorated Olympic athletes going head to head in the Winter Festival to claim victory.

Wellington Equestrian Realty

 One such champion is four-time gold medalist Beezie Madden. Since the competition features different events for each of its twelve weeks, experienced equestrian athletes like 54-year-old Beezie and children as young as two have the opportunity to participate.

Yep, watching a youngster clip-clop around on a majestic steed with incredible form is just an average day in Wellington. So are perfectly braided manes and unicorn horns!

Winter Equestrian Festival / Instagram

Riding, racing, and vaulting are all on wide display at the festival, but not to fret, there are other ways to keep entertained in Wellington. Due to the ritzy crowds drawn to the equestrian hub, the venue is always stacked with luxury brands.

Winter Equestrian Festival / Instagram

Who doesn’t need a Hermés horse fly bonnet? For only several thousand dollars, your chestnut mare can stay pest free in style and luxury. What a steal!

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Hermés returns to Wellington each year to host a lounge for attendees, sponsor events, and dole out complimentary branded water bottles to spectators. Ahhh! Nothing quite quenches thirst like the taste of opulence.

Business Insider

 In 2018, the festival hosted over 80 vendors offering everything from the largely grandiose to the practical. All of their items somehow connect to one theme — horses, of course.

Horse Scents / Instagram

Well, not all items. Guests weave in and out of tents displaying expensive art, jewelry, clothing, all perfectly catered to their high brow customers. Obviously, champagne plays a major role in the festivities.

 At its heart, Wellington is really a paradise for horses and horse lovers alike. Pampering horses is a serious business, and during the offseason, the giant gentle creatures live better than most families.

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Gigantic mansions, referred to as barns, house the horse stars of the equestrian community. Judging by their fancy digs, the horses staying here could easily star in their own hit Bravo reality show.

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Wellington, Florida, is home to the posh horse elite, there’s no doubt about that. And how much might it cost to move into the neighborhood?

Margot Foley / Flickr

Well, as mentioned, Jennifer Gates, daughter to Bill Gates, is a huge equestrian. The family would rent out a property when she had competitions in the area. In 2013, they purchased the ranch for $8.7 million — just mere pocket change for the Gates family.

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Gates bought a second ranch in October of 2014, this one from weight loss guru Jenny Craig, for $18 million. The 228-acre ranch comes equipped with an office, 3/4 mile race track, vet suite, guest house, orchard, and 5 barns.

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Gates, of course, has a life outside of Wellington. In 1988, he purchased a plot of land for $2 million back in Washington. It took him 7 years and $63 million, but he built a 66,000 square foot home filled with tech gadgets. The home is estimated to be worth $123 million now!

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Below Gates sit in the house that he and his family live in on the estate. Nicknamed Xanadu 2.0 just this house alone is valued at $63 million. It was inspired by the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane from the 1941 film Citizen Kane.

Over the 7 years that it took Gates to complete, 500,000 board feet of lumber was needed to complete the project. A few 500-year-old Douglas fir trees were used in the construction. The build required over 300 workers, not counting the 100 electricians!

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Gates is an avid reader so, naturally, he has a large book collection. His personal library cost $60 million to build and fill. It is 2,100 square feet and has two secret bookcases, one of which leads to a private bar. The library is off limits except to invited guests.

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The banquet hall at Xanadu is nothing to sneeze at either! It is 2,300 square feet. It can accommodate around 150 people sitting down or about 200 people standing at a cocktail party. The room is adorned with a 6-foot wide limestone fireplace and a 22-foot wide video screen.

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Gates made sure that there were more than adequate amenities throughout the house. There are 24 bathrooms, 10 of which are full baths. The house is also equipped with 6 different kitchens.

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What’s a massive mansion without its own movie theatre? The screening room can accommodate up to 20 people in plush seats and couches. The room is decorated in an art deco style. There is even a popcorn machine!

Eteknix

Gates even negotiated the removal of a preexisting home to build an activities building. This 900 square foot structure also houses their trampoline room. Altogether, there are about 2,500 square feet of exercise space on the property.

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What you see isn’t all that you get with this estate. A special garage was built underground out of concrete and stainless steel to house part of Gates’ massive car collection. The concrete was purposefully broken to give it a rough look. This garage alone can hold 10 cars.

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He’s a tech mogul, so obviously, gadgets matter to Gates. Whenever a guest stays at the house, they will be given a special pin that is unique to them. The pin interacts with sensors in the house, which controls the temperature, music, and lighting of any room.

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But just because he invested in tech, doesn’t mean he let the arts languish! Gates spent $230,000 to create a digital art center where the artwork changes to each guest’s style. Behind each picture frame is flat-panel picture display, which controls what artwork is visible.

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His art collection isn’t all digital either! His art collection is valued at $93.5 million! Outside his library is an original Winslow Homer worth $36 million. Inside the library is an original Childe Hassam painting, which was purchased for $20 million.

Childe Hassam via YouTube

In 1995, Gates started an investment firm. Since then, the company has bought the Charles Hotel, half of the Four Seasons chain, and partially bought the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, California for $161 million. Michael Larson now manages the company.

Among his book collection is the 16th century Leonardo Da Vinci manuscript that he purchased in 1994 for $30.8 million. The book is a compilation of scientific writings handwritten and illustrated by Da Vinci himself.

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Gates told Ellen Degeneres that he rarely buys things that are over the top and felt he had only done this twice in his life before. One was when he purchased a Bombardier BD700 Global Express jet for $40 million.

The jet can seat 19 people, making it the second largest private cabin. There are three different sections to the plane, including a club section.

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The second item that Gates felt was an extravagant purchase was his Porsche. He purchased this shortly after becoming a billionaire. When it first came out on the market, it cost $250,000.

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The speedster can go from zero to 60 in just three seconds. Its top speed registers at 195 miles per hour. Because the Gates car is no longer being manufactured and is now a collector’s item, it’s worth up to $10 million!

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