The 10 books the rich will be reading this summer

A version of this article first appeared in CNBC’s Inside Wealth newsletter with Robert Frank, a weekly guide to the high net worth investor and consumer. Sign up to receive future editions, straight to your inbox.

Today’s workaholic wealthy rarely have time to sit back and read a good book — except maybe for a few weeks in August. That’s why J.P. Morgan Private Bank, every May, releases its summer reading list, often serving as a book club for billionaires.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the list, now called the J.P. Morgan Summer Reading List. The 10 books are carefully curated to match the tastes and preoccupations of J.P. Morgan’s wealthy clients. This year’s list includes books on effective communication, artificial intelligence, Formula One, whiskey, hidden vacation spots and the art collection of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz.

J.P. Morgan creates the list by surveying its more than 35,000 client advisors and employees globally and asking about the topics clients are talking and thinking about the most. This year, the advisors sent in more than 700 recommended book titles, which a committee whittled down based on timeliness and appeal.

“Our clients run the gamut from business owners and entrepreneurs to philanthropists and art collectors,” said Darin Oduyoye, chief communications officer of J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management, who has spearheaded the list since its founding. “There are books to match up to each of those groups.”

Clients get an elegant J.P. Morgan-branded box with a book or two from the list, recommended specifically by their client advisor. The advisor also includes a handwritten note and a commemorative bookmark.

The list helps advisors connect with clients during the slow summer months. It also helps with client events, since authors on the list often agree to do special dinners or speaking events for J.P. Morgan clients.

Authors love being on the list as well since J.P. Morgan buys thousands of books to hand out and since clients often refer the books to others.

“The list is something that both clients and colleagues, and our communities, look forward to,” Oduyoye said.

This year’s 25th anniversary edition features a special “Anniversary Spotlight” highlighting, the charity founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, and their book “The Worth of Water.”

Here is J.P. Morgan’s 25th Annual Summer Reading List, along with summaries of the books, provided by the bank:

“Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection” by Charles Duhigg

Sharing the latest research on what makes conversations effective, Charles Duhigg reveals how we can level up our communications and make stronger connections. Whether it’s a divided jury room or the way a CIA officer recruits a foreign agent, Duhigg uses examples to illustrate how we can deliver effective messages by recognizing and tapping into the three layers of every conversation—practical, emotional and social. Taking us from the writers’ room of one of television’s most successful sitcoms to the couches of in-demand marriage counselors, Duhigg shows us that we all have supercommunicators inside of us.

“The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness” by Jonathan Haidt

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt lays out urgent facts—and issues a clear call to action—to focus attention on the global epidemic of teen mental illness. Haidt identifies the pervasive use of smartphones and over a dozen other mechanisms as having contributed to the “great rewiring of childhood.” Arguing that these technologies have had a profound negative effect on children’s social and neurological development, he explores what can be done to reverse the significant rise in sleep deprivation, fragmented attention, loneliness, addiction and social comparison. Importantly, Haidt calls for collective action and outlines steps that we all must take to end this epidemic.

Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys” published by Phaidon

Celebrating selections from the world-class art collection of musical and cultural icons Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean), “Giants” highlights 100 works by nearly 40 multigenerational Black American, African and African diasporic artists. Curated by the Brooklyn Museum for its first-ever major exhibition, the Dean Collection features works by legendary—as well as emerging—artists including Gordon Parks, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lorna Simpson, Odili Donald Odita and Kennedy Yanko. “Giants” also includes exclusive conversations between Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys and curator Kimberli Gant, in addition to interviews with 10 of the renowned artists featured.

“Brave New Words: How AI Will Revolutionize Education (and Why That’s a Good Thing)” by Salman Khan

Salman Khan, the visionary behind the nonprofit Khan Academy, explores how artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform learning both in education and the workplace. Demonstrating how AI will not replace human interaction but rather enhance it with tools to encourage creativity and problem solving, he shows how AI can adapt to each student’s individual pace while identifying strengths and areas of improvement. Outlining how emerging technologies can create a more accessible education system, Khan offers practical implications for administrators, counselors and hiring managers, as well as thoughtful insights on how we all can use AI in an increasingly digital world.

“Love & Whiskey: The Remarkable True Story of Jack Daniel, His Master Distiller Nearest Green, and the Improbable Rise of Uncle Nearest” by Fawn Weaver

Entrepreneur Fawn Weaver reveals the untold story of one of America’s most iconic whiskey brands. Set in Lynchburg, Tennessee, “Love & Whiskey” follows Weaver’s quest to discover the life of Nearest Green, a 19th-century African American distiller who played a pivotal role in developing Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Navigating through layers of history to unlock the truth about Green’s contributions to the spirits industry and his friendship with Daniels, Weaver uncovers a story that connects generations. Her findings inspire a new path forward, with Weaver spearheading the creation of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey as a way to honor and celebrate Green’s legacy for generations to come.

“The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 into the World’s Fastest-Growing Sport” by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg

In “The Formula,” Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg from The Wall Street Journal tell the riveting story of how Formula 1’s fearless reinvention led to its breakthrough in America. With fast cars, engineering geniuses, driver rivalries and glamorous settings, “The Formula” details how F1’s “sudden” arrival in the United States was actually decades in the making. With unfettered access to F1’s most legendary teams and icons from Ferrari to Mercedes, Robinson and Clegg give readers a thrilling look inside the drivers, corporations, cars and risks that have defined the world’s fastest-growing sport.

“Secret Stays: Pioneering Hosts of the New Chic” by Melinda Stevens, Issy von Simson and Tabitha Joyce

A fascinating exploration curated by Melinda Stevens, Issy von Simson and Tabitha Joyce, “Secret Stays” introduces 22 hidden gems that reflect the dynamic evolution of modern travel. Highlighting captivating properties and the people who own them—from a secluded Croatian monastery to a Japanese machiya townhome—this coffee table book from Assouline, the luxury brand on culture, reveals one-of-a-kind experiences that stem from a revived belief in genuine, bespoke hospitality. Through stunning photographs and compelling narratives, “Secret Stays” takes a fresh look at the diverse and ever-evolving face of travel today.

Finding Fortunato: How a Peruvian Adventure Inspired the Sweet Success of a Family Chocolate Business” by Adam Pearson

In “Finding Fortunato,” Adam Pearson takes us on a journey into the northern Peruvian jungle with the inspirational story of the entrepreneurial family who struck gold and discovered the legendary Nacional white cacao bean—previously thought to be extinct. Realizing their success was predicated on disrupting a traditional, unethical supply chain to instead trade directly with local Peruvian farmers, the family pioneered Fortunato Chocolate, a company that would come to be described as “the Rolex of chocolate.”

“Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing” by Laura Mae Martin

Every day, tens of thousands of Google employees, from interns to C-suite executives, rely on an executive productivity advisor—Laura Mae Martin—to make the most of their time. In “Uptime,” Martin provides easy-to-follow steps to boost productivity, prevent burnout and achieve a better work-life balance. Whether you face an avalanche of emails, an overloaded calendar or a difficult meeting to lead, Martin’s strategic approach lays out concrete steps to help you manage time efficiently, focus on priorities, and maintain effective systems and routines.

“The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles” by Jake Gyllenhaal and Greta Caruso

A whimsical and heartwarming picture book by Academy Award and Tony Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and his childhood best friend Greta Caruso, “The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles” celebrates the unique, fun-filled role aunts and uncles play in children’s lives. Humorously exploring the call to adventure that being an aunt or uncle can bring—from flexible bedtimes to activities with a “healthy dose of danger”—this book paints a loving portrait of these special relationships.

Anniversary Spotlight: “The Worth of Water: Our Story of Chasing Solutions to the World’s Greatest Challenge” by Gary White and Matt Damon

In celebration of the 225th anniversary of JPMorgan Chase’s earliest predecessor—the Manhattan Company, which was founded as a water works company—we are proud to spotlight “The Worth of Water” by Gary White and Matt Damon. These two unlikely allies, with a shared mission to end the global water crisis, take readers on a journey to empower communities and families with tools to address their potable water shortages. Outlining their trial-and-error approach to finding a workable solution, White and Damon demonstrate how the water crisis is solvable through collective action.

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‘Quiet wealth’ takes on new meaning with super-private deals for mansions, art and classic cars

A version of this article first appeared in CNBC’s Inside Wealth newsletter with Robert Frank, a weekly guide to the high-net-worth investor and consumer. Sign up to receive future editions, straight to your inbox.

The rich have taken “quiet wealth” to a new level, turning to private purchases of mansions, art and classic cars designed to avoid attention, according to experts.

Auction companies and luxury real estate brokers say wealthy buyers and sellers are increasingly turning to private sales and off-market listings to avoid social media and prying eyes. While public auction sales are declining in the art world, private sales — done behind closed doors between discreet buyers and sellers — are growing.

Last year, while combined public auction sales for Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips fell by 19%, private sales increased by 4% at Sotheby’s and 5% at Christie’s, totaling $2.4 billion across the two auction houses. CNBC reported in February that Christie’s had sold a Mark Rothko painting for over $100 million to hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, even as public auctions continued to decline.

Classic cars are also seeing a shift to private sales, especially with the most expensive and rare models. RM Sotheby’s, the classic-car auction company, has sold trophy Ferraris, Porsches and other trophy cars by public auction for more than 30 years. But its newly formed RM Sotheby’s private sales division has seen its sales more than quadruple over the past four years, according to Shelby Myers, global head of private sales for RM Sotheby’s.

Private sales, where cars are discreetly brokered between buyer and seller without an auction or public price, now account for nearly a third of revenue, he said.

“We’ve definitely seen a trend where people want to transact privately,” Myers said. “Discretion today is key. People can buy without the whole world staring at them.”

The rise in private sales for classic cars, art, real estate and other markets is being driven by social media, technology and cooling prices for collectibles. When a work of art or classic car comes up for auction, the results, and sometimes the seller, are highly public, spread over social media and blogs.

Collectibles experts say sellers don’t want to risk putting a treasured item up for auction only to have it stumble publicly on the auction block.

“It’s very public now when someone loses money on a sale, and no one wants that,” Myers said. “Up until a few years ago, you could buy a car at auction and the prices wouldn’t be splattered all over social media.”

Collectors who like to show their cars at events and award shows are also shying away from auctions since viewers are more likely to be able to figure out how much the owner paid.

“The car enthusiasts used to be a relatively small, tight-knit group,” Myers said. “Now when a major collector shows their car, it spreads like wildfire over blogs and the internet. And everyone can see who the owner is and what they paid.”

In real estate, many of the biggest deals in Manhattan, Malibu, Aspen, the Hamptons and Palm Beach are now in private or “off-market” sales. Also known as “whisper” or “pocket” listings, off-market properties are not listed on multiple listing services or public websites but are shopped around quietly among a select group of brokers and buyers.

A townhouse in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village sold this year in an off-market deal for $72.5 million, making it the most expensive townhouse ever sold downtown. A 13,000-square-foot mansion in Palm Beach sold off-market for $60 million, making it one the most expensive non-waterfront homes ever sold on the island. And Aspen’s first sale of over $100 million — Patrick Dovigi’s mansion on Red Mountain to billionaires Steve Wynn and Thomas Peterffy — was off-market, with the broker representing both the buyer and seller.  

Los Angeles is considered the birthplace of off-market deals, starting in the 1980s and 1990s when celebrities and movie stars wanted to avoid overzealous fans visiting their listed homes.

Over time, according to Douglas Elliman real estate agent Ernie Carswell in Los Angeles, wealthy, not but famous, sellers have joined in on the off-market craze.

“Even the average multi-millionaire or billionaire likes the idea of selling without the media and privacy invasion,” Carswell said.

Carswell said he currently has a billionaire client in New York who wants a special property in Los Angeles, so Carswell is looking at a mega-mansion owned by a Middle Eastern billionaire who is offering it only to select buyers. He’s also working on a deal in Palm Springs with a celebrity selling a home he didn’t want to be publicly shown to a billionaire buyer who doesn’t want any photos of his new home on the web.

“They don’t want burglars to know how to get to the bedroom, or how much land there is or how to get through the hedges,” Carswell said. “I blame technology.”

Carswell said off-market listings don’t make sense for properties under $5 million since they have a larger possible buying pool and benefit from broader marketing. But for special mega-homes in Malibu, Bel Air or Beverly Hills priced over $20 million, the list of potential buyers is smaller, and most are already known to the brokers, which makes an off-market agreement more appealing. 

That makes broker relationships even more important — especially to the wealthy, Carswell said.

“Never before has the need for a skilled, connected real estate professional been more valuable, especially at the high end,” he said.

Still, some brokers say even for pricey properties, sellers who go private don’t get the highest price since they’re limiting their pool of potential buyers.

“They’re leaving money on the table,” said real estate broker Noble Black of Douglas Elliman. “There is a valid reason for not listing, you want privacy and discretion. But you’re paying a premium for that.”

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An art market full of cracks is about to face a $1 billion test

A version of this article first appeared in CNBC’s Inside Wealth newsletter with Robert Frank, a weekly guide to the high-net-worth investor and consumer. Sign up to receive future editions, straight to your inbox.

The key May art sales at major auction houses are expected to be down from last year, as wealthy buyers and sellers take a breather from the frenzied prices of 2021 and 2022.

Art auction sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips over the next two weeks are expected to total $1.2 billion, down 18% from a year ago and nearly half the total for the May 2022 sales, according to ArtTactic.

It extends a recent decline for the art market from its post-Covid peak, when cheap money, a booming stock market and fiscal stimulus saw record sales. Last year, global auctions of fine art fell 27% from 2022 — the art market’s first contraction since the start of the pandemic in 2020 — and the average price dropped 32%, marking the biggest decline in seven years, according to ArtTactic.

During the first quarter of this year, sales in the contemporary and postwar category — the big money maker and growth driver for the art market in recent years — plunged 48%, according to ArtTactic.

The auction houses say demand from buyers remains strong. The problem, they say, is supply, as collectors hold back on selling their trophies for a better market environment. This spring, there are also no big single-owner collections up for sale, like the Macklowe Collection or Paul Allen Collections that helped power sales in previous years.

“We’re seeing what people perceive as a smaller offering this season,” said Brooke Lampley, global chairman and head of global fine art at Sotheby’s. “The proof is in the pudding. It’s the buyers showing up and what the work will sell for that will define our perception of the art market right now. And I expect the results to be strong.”

Price pressures

Dealers and art experts say the auction art market is stalled over price, with sellers not willing to get a lower price than they might have gotten at the peak of the market in 2021-2022. Buyers, meanwhile, are demanding discounts due to rising interest rates, an uncertain election year and geopolitical uncertainty.

“Sellers want 20% more, and buyers want 20% less,” said Philip Hoffman, CEO of the Fine Art Group, an advisory and art finance firm. “There is a stalemate.”

CNBC’s Robert Frank before an Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat collaboration at Sotheby’s.

Crystal Lau | CNBC

Dealers say today’s buyers don’t have the confidence they had two or three years ago: Persistent inflation, higher interest rates, fears of a slowing economy, the upcoming elections and geopolitical crises are all causing many collectors to pause their buying.

“People feel hesitant,” said Andrew Fabricant, chief operating office at Gagosian, the mega-gallery and dealership. “It’s an election year, there is the situation with the Fed, are they going to cut or not. The cost of money is relatively high compared to a few years ago.”

Even buyers who have the cash and are willing to pay aren’t buying, because there is a dearth of top-level art coming up for auction, according to experts.

“Our clients have have a ton of cash,” Hoffman said. “The question they’re asking is, ‘Should we buy in to the art market right now?'”

Fewer pieces

While the spring sales typically have more than a dozen works offered for more than $30 million each, this year there are just a few.

The most expensive works this auction season include Francis Bacon’s 1966 “Portrait of George Dyer Crouching,”— part of a series of 10 famous and monumental portraits Bacon did of Dyer between 1966 and 1968. It’s selling at Sotheby’s for an estimated $30 million to $50 million.

(L-R) Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “The Italian Version of Popeye has no Pork in his Diet,” 1982, and Francis Bacon’s “Portrait of George Dyer Crouching,” 1966.

Crystal Lau | CNBC

Sotheby’s also has a collection of four paintings by Joan Mitchell, with two expected to fetch over $15 million.

Christie’s is featuring a large work by Brice Marden, who died last year, called “Event,” estimated at $30 million to $50 million. It also has an iconic 1982 work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, called “The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork In His Diet,” estimated at $30 million.

Yet collectors and art advisors say there are few if any “masterpiece” works to create excitement this season.

“They just don’t have the marquis material this season,” Fabricant said. “Unless you have something truly singular and special, I don’t think you’re going to have the same enthusiasm you had in past sales.”

At the same time, art experts say now is a good time to hunt for bargains given the long-term prospects for the art market.

“I do think if you can get deals with pre-2022 prices and if there is something of good quality, now is the time to buy,” Hoffman said. “My outlook for the art market for next 10 years is that it will be a fabulous investment. It’s a great time to buy, not the best time to sell.”

While auction sales are weak, sales in the private markets and galleries remains strong, advisors say. Sales of new works in galleries are less dependent on investment returns, and are therefore less susceptible to economic and stock-market volatility. The auction houses are also seeing strong growth in their private sales, where they broker a deal directly between buyer and seller without a public auction.

Christie’s sold a Mark Rothko painting to hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin earlier this year for more than $100 million, CNBC previously reported. Collectors say selling a trophy work privately carries less risk of a failed auction, which can damage a work’s value.

“With private markets, you can be very targeted in terms of who you’re approaching, what type of buyer you’re approaching,” said Drew Watston, head of art services at Bank of America. “You can be very targeted about the price that you’re going out and asking for in the market. There’s great discretion so you can kind of go out into the market and test a price and adjust depending on the feedback that you get.”

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Tour this $24 million mansion in Delray Beach, Florida, where home prices have doubled

The owners of this Florida mansion are asking for $24 million for their almost 11,500 square-foot residence inside one of the most expensive gated communities in Delray Beach, Florida.

The price tag puts the home, known as Villa Ananda, at a price per square foot of almost $2,100, which is well beyond record-breaking territory for a non-oceanfront home in the town.

Aerial view of Villa Ananda and the man-made lake that wraps around the estate rear garden.

Daniel Petroni Photography

“As long as affluent clientele regard Florida as a haven for lifestyle and tax benefits, the ultra luxury real estate market will flourish,” listing broker Senada Adzem told CNBC.

Over the past five years, the Delray Beach market has more than flourished — it has skyrocketed. Since 2018, the average price per square foot of a luxury home — representing the top 10% of sales — in Delray Beach has more than doubled from $416 to almost $840, according to the Elliman Report.

The 102% rise in Delray Beach is even more impressive when you consider it outperformed both the Miami coastal mainland, which saw an 86% increase in luxury price per square foot, and the Manhattan, New York, market where the average price per square foot of a luxury home declined 2%.

Villa Ananda’s living area is flanked by a sleek gray and white kitchen on one side and a wall of wine on the other.

Daniel Petroni Photography

The average luxury home sale in Delray Beach has also seen a dramatic rise, increasing 90% from $2 million in 2018 to $3.8 million in the last quarter of 2023.

“People tend to think of Miami and Palm Beach when the subject turns to high-end South Florida real estate,” Adzem told CNBC. “But Delray Beach is, without question, one of the region’s premier luxury residential markets.”

Many of the town’s high-net-worth residents have been drawn to an exclusive enclave called Stone Creek Ranch. The gated community is home to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen; National Football League star Khalil Mack; Gerry Smith, CEO of ODP, the parent company of Office Depot; and singer-songwriter Romeo Santos, to name a few.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri purchased a home here back in 2019 for $7.5 million. He sold it in 2022 for $14 million, an almost 87% increase in under three years. Both deals were brokered by Adzem.

16141 Quiet Vista in Stone Creek Ranch was purchased by HP Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri for $7.5M who sold it three years later for a hefty profit.

Daniel Petroni

“I purchased the home because I loved it and the neighborhood. It also turned out to be an extraordinary investment,” Neri told CNBC.

Just last year, the 37-residence community saw its priciest sale to date when a 17,800 square-foot mansion at 9200 Rockybrook traded for $26 million, or about $1,460 per square foot, in a deal that was also brokered by Adzem.

Villa Ananda’s entrance is flanked by mature Italian Cypress trees.

Daniel Petroni Photography

While her latest listing, 9303 Hawk Shadow Lane, isn’t the most expensive home to hit the market here, at almost $2,100 a square foot, it would be the highest price per square foot ever achieved in Stone Creek Ranch, surpassing the previous record by more than 40%.

“Trophy properties have gained momentum in the South Florida market over the past three years — for tax benefits, for safety reasons and because of the pandemic,” Adzem told CNBC.

The real estate agent knows this high-end neighborhood well. Over the past four years, she has sold five properties here, twice each, and brokered more than $136 million in transactions — all of them within just 500 meters of her latest listing.

An aerial view of the Rockybrook Estate in Delray Beach, Florida.

Douglas Elliman

While buyers-turned-sellers, like Neri, have turned hefty profits in a short time, Adzem believes the market is still trending in the right direction. Limited supply helps.

“The high demand for estates within Stone Creek Ranch, with only 37 multimillion-dollar properties available, further underscores this market dynamic,” said Adzem.

Here’s a look inside the 6 bedroom, 10 bathroom Villa Ananda:

Aerial view of 9303 Hawk Shadow Lane in Delray Beach.

Daniel Petroni Photography

The one-story residence sits on 2.5 acres surrounded by a man-made lake.

Missing from the property’s lush green landscape are Florida’s ubiquitous palm trees. There’s not a single one on the estate. Instead, the land is peppered with towering Italian Cypress trees, bougainvillea, rose bushes, pines and vegetation chosen for its resemblance to olive trees.

Adzem tells CNBC that landscape architect Krent Wieland and the owners opted for greenery that would make the residence feel less like a Florida mansion and more like a luxurious villa in the Italian countryside.

The view from Villa Ananda’s loggia includes manicured gardens, a saltwater pool and a 20-person hot tub.

Daniel Petroni Photography

“Every detail of their surroundings was meticulously curated, inspired by the awe-inspiring vistas of southern Italy’s countryside,” said Adzem.

The home’s loggia includes a kitchen, bar, lounge, dining area and fireplace.

Daniel Petroni Photography

Villa Ananda’s primary suite spans about 3,500 square feet with two sleeping areas. This is larger of the suite’s two bedrooms.

Daniel Petroni Photography

According to Adzem, Villa Ananda’s primary suite spans more than 3,500 square feet, with two home offices, two walk-in closets, a pair of baths and a wellness area with an infrared sauna and massage table.

One of the two baths in the primary suite.

Daniel Petroni Photography

One of the primary suite’s two home offices.

Daniel Petroni Photography

Interiors are designed by Inson Dubois Wood with bespoke furniture by Studio Liaigre, Adzem tells CNBC, and while the furnishings are not included in the asking price, they are negotiable.

One of the primary suite’s two walk-in closets.

Daniel Petroni Photography

Custom chandeliers in the living room, formal dining room, baths and even closets are crafted from a pearly-white rock called Selenite, a crystal that’s formed when calcium-rich saltwater evaporates.

The dining area off the kitchen.

Daniel Petroni Photography

There’s dining for twelve off the kitchen, plus a separate formal dining room that can accommodate 10 guests.

The formal dining room.

Daniel Petroni Photography

The kitchen’s waterfall countertops are crafted from a white Calacatta Crema marble, and the wood floors are washed in a soft gray hue that resembles weathered drift wood.

The kitchen.

Daniel Petroni Photography

Outside, there’s a saltwater pool, 20-person hot tub, zen garden, fire features, a fruit tree orchard and rose garden.

A view of the home’s saltwater pool and stone sundeck.

Daniel Petroni Photography

The stone driveway leads to a parking courtyard flanked by air-conditioned garage areas for nine cars.

The home has air-conditioned parking for nine cars.

Daniel Petroni Photography

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The first tour inside Manhattan’s newest private club, with $100,000 membership fees

A battle between elite membership clubs is about to reach a whole new level, as Core Club’s new 60,000-square-foot megaclub prepares to open in Manhattan next month.

The new Core space, spread over four floors above Midtown, is the latest in a wave of elite membership clubs that have opened in major cities since the pandemic. From Casa Cipriani and Zero Bond in New York, to the Aster and Heimat in Los Angeles and ZZ’s Club in Miami, the clubs have redefined the old-world membership clubs and created safe spaces for today’s privacy-minded, highly mobile wealthy.

More than a dozen new clubs have opened or announced plans to open in Manhattan since 2020. Some, like Aman, are offshoots of hotel brands. Others, like ZZ’s and Casa Cipriani, leverage the cult-like fan base of their restaurants. Many are geographic expansions of existing hotspots, like LA’s famed San Vicente Bungalows opening in New York.

A rendering of a bar area at the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.

Courtesy: Core Club

The club boom has created an arms race of amenities, with clubs vying to outdo each other with dining spaces, celebrity chefs, wellness spas, gyms, bars, pools, nightclubs, plush hotel suites and high-tech board rooms. ZZ’s Club, owned by Major Food Group and scheduled to open in Hudson Yards this fall, will boast multiple restaurants and a “culinary concierge” — a team of chefs able to whip up any dish that it’s members request.

“No one’s ever done this before,” said Jeff Zalaznick, managing partner for Major Food Group. “We’ve got so much talent in this kitchen. If you want your mother’s meatloaf in two days, we can make it. You want fried chicken, we can make it and probably make a great version.”

The price for access is soaring: the Aman Club in Manhattan, part of Aman New York’s new 83-suite hotel, charges $200,000 for membership along with $15,000 a year in annual dues. Core’s memberships range from $15,000 for an individual membership to $100,000 for a family membership, along with annual dues of $15,000 to $18,000 a year.

With more clubs scheduled to open in the fourth quarter and beginning of next year, some members worry that New York and other big cities are becoming over-saturated with club offerings, especially if the economy plunges into recession.

Club owners and managers say they see no slowdown in demand, as the wealthy seek communities and private spaces where they can work, play, stay and network in a secure and exclusive space.

Industry watchers say the U.S. may be moving toward the London model of social clubs, where storied institutions like Annabel’s, 5 Hertford Street and White’s play a central role in the social and professional lives of the upper crust. Soho House, founded in London in 1995 by restauranteur Nick Jones, has expanded to become the global goliath of the private club world, with dozens of locations around the world and a publicly traded stock.

Casa Cipriani private membership club in New York.


Core Club’s founder and CEO, Jennie Enterprise, said that after the pandemic, the wealthy value privacy and a sense of community more than ever.

“I think the proliferation of private clubs is a reflection of an exceptional business model,” she said. “The annuity subscription-based business model in any industry is attractive. The activity in the space certainly reflects a desire for curated communities and experiences. And probably with a dynamic of social media, and a lack of privacy, I think that discretion and private communities are probably something that is more aligned with the culture of the moment.”

A rendering of a terrace at the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.

Courtesy: Core Club

Club owners say members often join multiple clubs, since each has its own focus and atmosphere. Zero Bond, founded by nightclub impresario Scott Sartiano, has more of a nightclub vibe and has hosted Kim Kardashian, Pete Davidson and Gigi Hadid. Aman has the hushed (some say eerily quiet) feel of a zen resort, while Casa Cipriani features the flashy, people-watching theater of Cipriani’s storied New York eateries.

Zalaznick said his affluent clientele is “spending more than ever” at ZZ’s Club in Miami and the company’s high-end restaurants, which bodes well for the forthcoming ZZ’s Club New York.

“The things that bring people back are great food, great service, great experiences, great connections and the staff’s ability to cater to people’s needs or desires,” he said. “That’s our focus, and that’s what will give us longevity in the club space.”

Core gave CNBC an exclusive first tour of its new club at 711 Fifth Avenue, scheduled to open in mid-October. The group opened its first space in 2005 at a nearby location on 55th street and became the most successful of the new breed of modern, business-oriented membership clubs. In need of more space and a fresh look, Core leased four floors on the top of the former Coca-Cola building and spent two years and tens of millions of dollars building the ideal layout.

Spanning the 15th through 18th floors, Core has over 6,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space with views of Central Park and the glass towers of Midtown.

The 15th floor houses 11 luxury hotel suites, which are between 500 and 750 square feet apiece. Priced at around $1,500 per night, the rooms will be available for guests or their family members. The same floor also houses a spa with treatment rooms and a salon.

A rendering of the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.


The 16th floor is home to the gym, juice bar and the Dangene Institute, which features the latest in anti-aging skincare technology.

On the 17th floor, members will find a speakeasy-style lounge, which includes a stylish bar, blue velvet couches and a glass wine and champagne vault, called the wine library. Another set of glass doors leads to the culinary lab, a U-shaped table where celebrity chefs from around the world will serve up special dishes for members.

A rendering of the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.

Courtesy: Core Club

The 18th floor houses the more formal dining area, which will serve mostly Mediterranean fare during the day and a more seasonal, varied menu at night. Core’s culinary program is headed by Chef Michele Brogioni, the celebrated former executive chef at Giorgio Armani. The club’s bread and pastries (including what is arguably New York’s best lemon cake) is overseen by head pastry chef Mauro Pompili.

The 18th floor also houses state-of-the art conference and board rooms, a screening room and a flexible events space and gallery that can be used for exhibits, parties and big gatherings.

Along with the Manhattan club, Core has new locations in Milan and San Francisco and has plans for several others in the coming years, Enterprise said.

A rendering of a dining area at the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.

Courtesy: Core Club

Yet Core’s main draw, she said, isn’t the spaces or the amenities, but the community and well-spring of ideas. Core produces between 150 and 200 cultural events a year, from performances, exhibits and talks, to tastings, interviews and showcases.

“We’re ideas-led, not amenities-led,” Enterprise said. “Clearly we have beautiful, world-class amenities. But what defines us is the quality of our ideas. We curate a community of relentlessly curious and unlike-minded people from across the spectrum. So people can intersect with other people from media sports, fashion, finance, science, technology, design and beyond. Our commitment to cultural programming reflects a desire for our members to endlessly cultivate themselves.”

While Core never discloses the names of any of its members, some cited in past media reports include Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, fashion designer Tory Burch, Vornado CEO Steven Roth and Estee Lauder Executive Chairman William Lauder.

Since the new location is nearly twice the size as its prior outpost and can accommodate more members, Core is accepting and starting to review new applications.

“We are getting a lot of applications,” Enterprise said. “There is no single requirement. We look for interesting, curious people who will add to the community.”

A rendering of the Core Club, a private membership club in Midtown Manhattan.


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Where to stay in India? Here are 8 former palaces that are now hotels

The Maharajas of India’s past built magnificent palaces as a symbol of their power.

But in 1971, India abolished “privy purses,” or governmental payments made to these rulers. Several of them transformed their vast estates into heritage hotels, or leased them to renowned hotel chains which carefully restored them to their former glory.

From the eastern state of Odisha to Rajasthan in the north, here are eight regal retreats where travelers can live like kings and queens.

1. Jehan Numa Palace — Bhopal

Visitors can step back in time at Jehan Numa Palace in Bhopal, which has a neoclassical style and a 19th-century exterior.

Jehan Numa Palace.

Source: Jehan Numa Palace

This pristine white building was built by General Obaidullah Khan, son of the last ruling Begum of Bhopal, and transformed into a 100-room hotel by his grandsons in the 1980s. The hotel contains salvaged original artifacts and Raj-era photos as well as modern luxuries, such as a palm-lined pool and Chakra spa services.

Its palatial charm lingers among the racehorses that gallop around the track encircling the hotel. Travelers can dine on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine here, but Indophiles opt for the hotel’s legendary Bhopali fare prepared from secret palace recipes in a restaurant named Under the Mango Tree. 

2. Haveli Dharampura — Delhi

Once a nobleman’s home, the 19th-century Haveli Dharampura was meticulously restored over six years under the leadership of the prominent political figure Vijay Goel.

Haveli Dharampura.

Source: Heritage Dharampura

It’s now a 14-room boutique hotel, which received an honorable mention in 2017’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The atmospheric Mughal-era hotel has red sandstone-arched colonnades, a marble courtyard, Arabesque tile-work and intricate stone and wood details that echo the opulence of yesteryears. 

The in-house Lakhori restaurant prepares historic Mughal recipes, while the breezy rooftop provides a delightful setting for drink-in-hand lounging while listening to the muezzin’s call from the nearby Jama Masjid — a soul-stirring reminder that you are in the heart of Old Delhi.

The hotel has guided heritage walks, kite-flying and high tea on the roof terrace, and kathak performances on Saturday and Sunday, where guests can enjoy an evening of Indian classical dance.

3. Taj Lake Palace — Udaipur

Accessible by boat, this stark white edifice in the heart of Lake Pichola (as seen in the 1983 James Bond flick “Octopussy”) was originally a summer pleasure palace for Mewar royalty in the 1740s.

It was transformed into a heritage hotel in the 1960s and is now impeccably managed by the Taj Group.

Taj Lake Palace

Source: Taj Lake Palace

Straight out of a fairy tale, the Taj Lake Palace boasts domed pavilions, ornamental turrets, crystal chandeliers, and 83 antique-filled rooms and suites, some which overlook a gleaming courtyard that hosts nightly folk dances.

It has four dining options serving globe-trotting menus, a spa boat and butler service.

4. Taj Falaknuma Palace — Hyderabad

Perched nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, this hilltop hotel has 60 rooms and suites, which increase in lavishness as you move up its room classes.

Taj Falaknuma Palace.

Source: Taj Falaknuma Palace

By the time you reach the Nizam Suite — graced with fine tapestry, a private pool and personal butler — it’s easy to envision the lifestyle of the Nizam of Hyderabad, who lived in the palace in the 19th century.

The rooms aren’t the only lure. The 130-year-old edifice is known for its state banquets of yore-style food, grand gardens, billiard room with monogrammed cues and ivory balls, and a library modeled on the one at Windsor Castle. Staterooms are decked out with Venetian chandeliers, royal portraits and heirlooms from the Nizams’ era.

5. Taj Usha Kiran Palace — Gwalior

This palace dating to the 1800s was, in its past life, a guesthouse and later royal residence of the ruling family of the state of Gwalior.

Taj Usha Kiran Palace.

Source: Taj Usha Kiran Palace

Today, it’s a lavish Taj hotel that balances old-world vibes with contemporary style. Its interiors contain ancient stone carvings, filigree work and rich tapestries. For a regal experience, travelers can take a heritage tour through the sprawling estate and stay in one of the Royal Suites, which are kitted out with four-poster beds, Venetian mirrors and mother-of-pearl mosaics.

The hotel also offers plenty of facilities to help guests unwind, including a spa, outdoor pool, and an Art Deco-style bar.

6. Rambagh Palace — Jaipur

Set in 47 acres of gardens that are home to peacocks, this former hunting lodge and royal abode of the Maharaja of Jaipur, dates back to 1835. It is now a heritage hotel managed by the Taj Group.

Rambagh Palace.

Source: Rambagh Palace

Exquisite antique furnishings, silk drapes, domed wooden ceilings and four-poster beds give the 78 rooms and suites a regal feel.

Many other features make Rambagh Palace an unforgettable retreat: heritage walks around the premises conducted by the palace butler, golf putting green, original palace dining room with chandeliers and gilded mirror, a Polo bar festooned with trophies and memorabilia of the Jaipur polo team, and a spa with Indian healing services.

The palace has hosted the likes of King Charles, Louis Mountbatten and Jacqueline Kennedy.

7. The Belgadia Palace — Mayurbhanj

Nestled in the charming town of Baripada, The Belgadia Palace has been with the descendants of the same royal family since it was built in 1804, giving it an authenticity that is hard to replicate.

The Belgadia Palace.

Source: The Belgadia Palace

A portion of this historic palace has been converted into an 11-room hotel by Mrinalika and Akshita Bhanj Deo, royal descendants of the family. It boasts lofty ceilings, marble corridors and artifacts.

There’s also a lavish dining hall that serves Odisha-style meals, and elegant verandas on which to drink tea. The palace arranges activities such as traditional Chhau dance performances on the pristine lawns, handicraft village tours and other excursions. 

8. Chittoor Kottaram — Kochi

The height of exclusivity, the Chittoor Kottaram — which once belonged to the king of Cochin — hosts only one group of no more than six people at any one time.

Chittoor Kottaram.

Source: Chittoor Kottaram

Nestled amid coconut groves by the edge of the lagoon backwaters of Kerala, the three-room abode boasts beautiful Athangudi floor tiles and wooden ceilings.

Precious artworks by Lady Hamlyn of The Helen Hamlyn Trust, the restorer of this 300-year-old palace, lend the property something of a museum feel. A personal chef prepares traditional Keralan dishes that can be eaten at a waterside gazebo or in the lush garden.

Ayurvedic massages and private cultural shows can be arranged, as can a private sunset cruise on the serene waterways.

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Couples leverage ‘something borrowed’ to cut wedding costs

After facing the reality of how expensive fresh flowers could be when planning her own wedding, Della Larca founded Florèal Blooms, her luxury silk flower rental business, three and half years ago from her basement in Butler, New Jersey.

Larca’s business swelled last year, and she recently moved to a larger workspace to accommodate to the growing demand for her product brought by inflation and a backlog of events rippled by the pandemic.

The price of nuptials has continued to grow, with the cost of the average wedding reaching $30,000 last year thanks to steep inflation, according to an annual study by The Knot, a wedding website.

More from Life Changes:

Here’s a look at other stories offering a financial angle on important lifetime milestones.

Sixty-one percent of couples set to marry this year said the economy has already impacted their wedding plans, and the soon-to-be-wed have become savvier as they confront higher costs. Some, for example, are leaning into the wedding proverb of “something borrowed,” and seriously considering renting over buying —especially when it comes to flowers, fine jewelry and even their bridal dresses.

To make sure they’re really snagging a deal, however, couples must take into consideration the quality of the product they’re renting and whether rental requires added labor costs.

“It’s about making sure whatever you’re renting, think about the execution, think about who’s going to have to bring it out, set it up … is that cost worth it to you?” said Jason Rhee, director of celebrations and owner of Rheefined Company, a wedding and special events planner in Los Angeles.

Couples are renting flowers, jewelry and more

Courtesy of Something Borrowed Blooms

Laken Swan and Lauren Bercier founded Something Borrowed Blooms in 2015 after dealing with high costs for their own weddings. Bercier, in particular, suffered buyer’s remorse on her wedding day — after putting down the full deposit for fresh flowers, the blooms that arrived on her wedding day weren’t exactly what she’d had in mind, said Swan.

Unfortunately, the disappointment Bercier felt isn’t uncommon. The fresh flower industry can experience supply and demand issues, Swan said, and prices often reflect the fluctuation of what’s in stock and an event’s proximity to holidays like Valentine’s Day.

Prices for artificial flowers, on the other hand, are not as volatile — and brides are starting to notice.

Florèal Blooms saw an increase in demand in January 2021, when Larca was scheduling 20 to 30 consultations a week. For 2023, the company is fully booked until the end of the year. For its part, Something Borrowed Blooms is currently shipping out enough silk flowers each month for around 1,200 weddings, pacing up to 2,000 weddings per month this fall.

It makes economic sense: While the average cost of fresh flowers can come to at least $2,500 per event, you can save as much as 70% by renting silk flowers for a fraction of the price, Swan said.

How brides can dress best for less

Fine jewels are also within the average bride’s reach more than ever before. Brides who lack the disposable income to purchase fine jewelry but would value the experience of wearing one-of-a-kind pieces on their special day may want to consider renting expensive jewelry.

Rental prices for fine diamond jewelry at New York-based jeweler Verstolo range from $275 to $695, for example, and the cost includes insurance.

The same goes for wedding dresses.

While the average price for a typical bridal gown is $1,900 before alterations — an additional but often necessary service that could cost $500 to $700 extra — brides to be could rent a designer dress for the starting price of $2,000, with tailoring costs included, said Miriam Williams, co-founder of Atlanta bridal rental company Laine London.

“This next generation of brides is thinking about experiences over possessions,” said Williams. “It’s only natural that they’re rethinking what their wedding day might look like.”

While these may sound like great deals up front, couples should be sure to vet vendors’ quality controls — how they keep the repeatedly used items in top condition — and ask whether their services require additional labor costs. Otherwise, they could end up spending far more than anticipated.

What to consider before renting

Make sure you think about the execution of whatever it is you are renting, said Rhee at Rheefined Company.

“I think it’s amazing that there [are] opportunities for you to be able to rent things that you may not necessarily be able to afford, but then that’s where you just have to think about doing a little investigation,” he said. “Think about it if there is a person attached to that, or is there a service attached to what you need.”

For instance, Florèal Blooms provides a full team that delivers, sets up and packs up the flowers on the wedding day for a flat rate that’s included in the total cost.

“Quality would be the primary risk,” said Swan at Something Borrowed Blooms. Since you are renting something that has been used before, research past customer testimonies and try to work with companies that seem to pride themselves in quality control, added Swan.

If renting out artificial flowers, consider asking the rental company about quality control practices and whether their total costs include insurance for “wear and tear.”

“If there’s maybe a [flower] that was stained [by] red wine or something else, that particular floral is removed from the arrangement and we add a new floral in its place; sometimes, we’re just freshening up greenery,” Swan noted.

The same goes for bridal gowns and maintenance. Laine London expects “normal wear and tear,” and makes sure to hand-wash and drip-dry each gown after it is returned, as well as to refrain from using harsh chemicals, in order to maintain fabric integrity.

“We’re able to really bring the dress back to perfect condition after every use,” said Williams.

Something borrowed, something … bought?

On the other hand, in some cases it may make better sense to buy rather than borrow.

“You want to buy something that you’re going to wear, and that’s not going to sit in your safe and you’ll pull it out one or two times a year,” said Lauren Grunstein, vice president of sales, public relations and marketing for Verstolo.

Deciding whether to buy or rent is a very personal decision, added Williams at Laine London. She noted that her clients have other reasons for renting, not solely for budget reasons. “They don’t want to deal with it hanging in their closet,” she said, referring to wedding gowns.

However, if you plan to get multiple uses out of a bridal item in the future and you have a budget that supports it, it makes sense to go ahead and invest in that purchase, said Swan.

“But if you’re looking at items that are quickly used or disposed of, or don’t have additional uses in the future, that’s definitely an area that you want to consider renting.”

Correction: Florèal Blooms saw an increase in demand in January 2021. An earlier version misstated the year. Rental prices for fine diamond jewelry at Verstolo range from $275 to $695, for example and the cost includes insurance. An earlier version misstated the range.

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The ‘breakout travel trend’ of the decade: What to know about expedition cruising

It felt as if we had the jungle to ourselves.

As we explored Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park, we spotted rare birds, spider monkeys — even a sloth and her infant — among the trees of the rainforest.

It was one of many experiences I had on an expedition cruise with 32 passengers aboard the Greg Mortimer, operated by the Australia-based Aurora Expeditions.

During the 13-day voyage, we crossed the Panama Canal and snorkeled amid hawksbill turtles in Panama’s UNESCO-protected Coiba National Park. We also met members of the indigenous Embera tribe deep in Panama’s thick jungle. 

Aurora Expeditions’ Greg Mortimer in Costa Rica. Its smaller size allows it to explore coastlines that are inaccessible to large cruise ships.

Source: Carlo Raciti

Built for polar regions, this was the ship’s first foray into tropical waters, as companies like Aurora are responding to the growing demand for expedition cruises.

Instagram posts — which often showcase trips to Antarctica — may have given expedition cruising more publicity, but this form of cruising isn’t new. 

The evolution of expedition cruising

U.S.-based Lindblad Expeditions started taking travelers to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands in the mid-1960s. 

The company specializes in expedition cruises, which differ from conventional cruises in that they focus on exploring isolated, less visited or inaccessible destinations. Smaller ships also allow itinerary flexibility, which means the captain can slow down for guests to observe polar bears or a whale shark.

Aurora Expeditions has been plying Antarctica’s frozen waters since the cruise line first leased rudimentary Russian icebreakers to reach the icy continent in the early 1990s. 

“Bathrooms were shared, and we’d string our clothes across the cabins to dry,” said Bronwyn Stephenson, a veteran Aurora expeditioner.

A cabin on the Greg Mortimer.

Source: Carlo Raciti

With its spacious cabins, plush library and lecture theater, the Greg Mortimer is a far cry from these original expedition cruise ships. 

Today, there is stiff competition among expedition cruise lines to launch more technologically advanced vessels and to secure onboard talent. Lindblad recently recruited underwater archaeologist Mensun Bound, who has discovered ancient shipwrecks, and former NASA chief scientist Robert Bindschadler, to educate passengers.

Demand since the pandemic 

Aurora Expeditions’ chief marketing officer Hayley Peacock-Gower said there has been a strong shift to immersive, experiential travel since the pandemic. As travelers demonstrate burgeoning interest in nature, wildlife and cultural tourism, expedition cruise lines have answered the call with more and varied itineraries.

Aurora’s Hayley Peacock-Gower said the company is seeing rising interest in the Arctic. Its East Greenland Explorer “will attempt to forge toward the northernmost tip of Greenland, both an Aurora and expedition cruising first,” she said.

Source: Aurora Expeditions

Noah Brodsky, chief commercial officer of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, described expedition cruising as the “breakout travel trend of the decade.”

“There’s something truly special and transformative about experiencing remote destinations alongside a small group of like-minded people,” he told CNBC.

Bookings through the roof  

Lindblad recorded its biggest-ever booking day on Jan. 3, racking up some $5.6 million in sales, according to a company representative.

In-demand destinations this year include Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, the Arctic and Antarctica, according to the representative, while interest to Costa Rica is up 54% from 2019.

The company also launched new routes to Greenland, French Polynesia and Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

An increasing number of people no longer want run-of-the-mill holidays.

James Cole

founder, Panache Cruises

James Cole, founder of the U.K.-based cruise agency Panache Cruises, said expedition cruising saw the most growth in the cruising sector in the past decade — expanding from about 67,000 passengers in 2012 to 367,557 in 2022.

“An increasing number of people no longer want run-of-the-mill holidays,” he said. “People crave adventure … there is a certain amount of romanticism here which harks back to the time of great explorers like Hillary, Cousteau and Shackleton.”

Who takes expedition cruises?

Most of the demand for expedition cruises comes from the over-55 age group, namely the semi-retired and retired who have the time and resources, Cole said. 

But he noted: “We are seeing more families entering the market.”

Gen Xers and millennials represent a smaller percentage of clients. “It is the ‘experience’ and ‘adventure’ which is driving their interest. The cruise aspect is really a secondary dimension,” Cole noted. 

Expedition cruising is also a good option for the growing number of solo travelers. 

I hadn’t visited Central and South America before, mostly because deciding which countries to visit and planning an independent trip seemed overwhelming and complicated. As a woman, I was concerned about safety too. The Aurora cruise was the ideal introduction, with shore excursions led by onboard experts and engaging local guides. 

Higher fares, longer cruises

Plusher ships, onboard experts and fewer passengers translate to higher fares than conventional cruises. Expedition cruises often start at around $1,000 per person per day. Trips typically last eight to 15 days — though some can take a full month.

While conventional cruises can host thousands of people at once, companies like the polar micro cruising company Secret Atlas can take as few as 12 cruisers at a time.

Cruisers from the Greg Mortimer meeting people from the Embera tribe in Panama.

Source: Carlo Raciti

But a push for more comfort and luxury in the industry is causing some expedition cruises to get bigger, said company co-founder Andrew Marsh.

“Unfortunately, this has meant the new expedition cruise ships have become larger and the expedition experience itself has been sacrificed,” he told CNBC. 

Environmental and cultural impact

Though they’re smaller in scale, expedition cruises have faced criticism for polluting oceans, introducing microbes to sensitive environments, and colliding with large mammals like whales. 

To combat some of these issues, the luxury travel agency Abercrombie & Kent is chartering the luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot for a North Pole expedition next year.

“To reduce emissions to the lowest possible level, this Ponant ship uses LNG as a fuel,” said the company’s product development and operations vice president Stefanie Schmudde. “The vessel also uses hybrid operation, with batteries to handle load fluctuations.”  

A coati photographed in the jungles of Costa Rica during an expedition cruise shore excursion.

Source: Carlo Raciti

In February, Aurora and Sylvia Earle led an Antarctic climate expedition on a ship named after the renowned oceanographer. The aim was to raise public and government awareness of the Antarctic’s environmental importance. 

Aurora Expeditions’ Peacock-Gower said the company worked with 117 climate ambassadors, aged 12 to 88, to formulate eight climate resolutions that are designed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035. 

“Travel is always the best educator, and we offer the chance to enrich our passengers’ curiosity … on and off-ship,” she said.

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Demand for luxury watches shows no sign of fading, says Audemars Piguet CEO

The luxury watch market is well-positioned to avoid a crash as tight supply and a new generation of young collectors drive demand, according to the CEO of Audemars Piguet.

Luxury watch prices on the secondary market fell 8% last year, with some top models falling more than 20% from their peak, according to WatchCharts. Experts have been warning that the watch bubble could burst, along with crypto, NFTs and other trendy post-pandemic booms. Yet in the past two months, prices have begun to stabilize on the back of what some see as lasting, strong demand.

“I don’t see prices going much lower,” said Francois-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet — one of the so-called Big Three of the luxury watch world along with Rolex and Patek Philippe. “People still want to reward themselves, and when they want to reward themselves, they will look at the most respected companies, in watches, jewelry, fashion, you name it.”

Bennahmias said the luxury watch market is benefitting from a vast and structural shift to younger buyers. During the pandemic, a flood of millennials and Gen Z consumers poured into the collectible watch world, educating themselves online and coveting rare watches worn by sports stars and celebrities on social media.

With the top watchmakers built on the promise of limited production, supply can’t keep pace with demand.

“The quantities from the watch companies didn’t evolve,” Bennahmias said. “And the demand became crazy, because we saw the arrival of young people that just were more and more interested in watches. And some people with money who were not even looking at watches before found out that building a watch collection could be something interesting.”

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph in black ceramic, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the collection.

Source: Audemars Piguet

Bennahmias said unlike the fickle meme-stock investors of 2021, today’s young watch collectors are here to stay. The average age of an Audemars customer is now 10 or 12 years younger, he said, than in the company’s recent history. Despite living most of their life online and immersed in digital products, Gen Z and millennials have developed a particular attraction to highly crafted, mechanical watches.

“When the Apple Watch came out in 2014, everyone was telling us that we will actually die,” Bennahmias said. “They said no young person would ever wear a watch again, if they did it would be a smartwatch. The funny thing is, we thought that young people couldn’t appreciate exclusivity, craftsmanship, watchmaking. They did.”

Bennahmias said younger generations are becoming some of the brand’s top ambassadors.

“They are the ones preaching the choir with social media and everything. They are our best advertising campaign, and they are bringing their parents actually to the brand,” he said.

Market markups

The big challenge for watchmakers is the secondary market, where pre-owned watches can sell on any of the dozens of online watch sites.

With demand for watches outpacing supply of new inventory, prices for pre-owned watches have skyrocketed, along with online sites like Chrono24, Watchfinder and Watchbox that buy and sell pre-owned watches. Preowned watch sales reached $22 billion in sales in 2021, accounting for nearly one-third of the overall $75 billion luxury watch market, according to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group.

Prices for pre-owned versions of some of the top “trophy” models — like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, the Rolex Daytona and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak — can run two or three times their retail price. A pre-owned Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” that retails new for $35,000 is currently listed on Chrono24 for $115,000. Some have listed for over $130,000.

The mark-ups have sparked widespread frustration among collectors, who claim watchmakers are deliberately limiting production to boost prices and resale values — making their watches more attractive as investments. Bennahmias said many of the price corrections are “healthy” and that the watchmakers prefer customers who are true, long-term watch-lovers rather than speculators trying to pump up prices.

“I want this to be very clear for everyone,” Bennahmias said. “We’re not playing the market. We’re not doing anything to make the price go one way or the other. We make a certain amount of watches that we think could be accepted by the world. We say this is the right number, then the market is free and will do whatever they want.”

Audemars Piguet produced only 50,000 watches last year and is expected to produce about 51,000 this year, Bennahmias said. The brand, founded in 1875 and still family-owned, has long championed quality, craftsmanship and exclusivity over revenue growth.

Audemars Piguet is continuing to expand its production and facilities in Switzerland. But Bennahmias said that even if the company wanted to meet demand, which would be well over 80,000 watches a year, the company wouldn’t be able to find and train watchmakers fast enough.

Francois-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet.

Credit: Audemars Piguet

“The board of directors, meaning the family members, have never ever asked me in my 11 years for any growth in percentage terms, ever,” Bennahmias said. “They have never said ‘Francois, we want 10% or 15% or more.’ No. They say, ‘Francois, we still want to be around 200 years from now.’ That’s a completely different vision on how to build the success of a brand.”

Bennahmias admits the company has “made mistakes” when it comes to handling customers who arrive at their stores only to be told there are no watches available or that the wait time, if they’re lucky enough to get on the list, is up to two years. He said sales staff are now better trained to explain the limited production, the low numbers of each model produced and how many are delivered to each country.

He also said he wants 30% of all watches to go to buyers who have never owned an Audemars Piguet, to keep bringing in new customers.

“We are learning every single day, and it’s not always perfect,” he said. “What we found out through the course of the last three, four years, is that we need to educate people more.”

Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph in black ceramic, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the collection.

Source: Audemars Piguet

Audemars is now celebrating the 30th anniversary of its popular Royal Oak Offshore model, a larger version of its signature Royal Oak. When the Offshore was first launched, however, the model was widely scorned, according to Bennahmias.

“People trashed it,” he said. “When the watch came out people looked at it and said, ‘You guys are crazy.’ And we were not so confident in launching it. Slowly but surely it took off, to the point where it was a huge success.”

Next steps

Bennahmias, who will be leaving his role as CEO at the end of this year, declined to identify his potential successor or his next position.

He more than tripled Audemar Piguet’s sales during his tenure to over $2 billion and is well known in the watch world for his close ties to Jay-Z and other hip hop stars, as well as Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and artists.

Some have speculated his next job is as likely to be in sports or music as it is luxury or watches.

“I think I’ve done what I was supposed to do with Audemars Piguet,” he said. “I’ve got so many other things I want to do with my life. I’ve got many different passions. Music is one. Sports is another one. And luxury obviously, and I want to do other things. I’m not done yet.”

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This LA mansion is staring down an April 1 deadline before the seller loses millions

The owner of this over-the-top, seven-bedroom and 11-bath mansion in Los Angeles is prepared to accept $6 million less than what he paid for it less than two years ago — all to beat a ticking clock.

The home features a Kobe Bryant-themed basketball court, car showroom and a 70-foot infinity pool that appears to float some 45 feet above the mountainside, and it’s on sale for a reduced price of $38 million.

If it doesn’t sell by April 1, the property would be subject to a looming new, local mansion tax, which goes into effect next month and could cost the owner a further $2 million.

The grand living area opens to the outdoors with 22 foot ceilings, a 10-ft long fireplace, and a giant wall covered in living green moss that extends across three levels of the home.


The Brentwood estate, now known as the Star Resort, was built by veteran spec developer Ramtin Ray Nosrati, who sold it back in 2021 for $44 million. According to public records, the almost 16,700-square-foot residence was purchased by the trust of wealthy investor Jeffrey Feinberg, who runs Feinberg Investments. 

About a year after buying it, Feinberg put the home back on the market for $48 million but couldn’t find any takers. Feinberg brought in Dan Malka of Ikon Advisors to implement a more aggressive pricing strategy, and the original asking price was chopped down $10 million, or almost 21%. To put that price cut into perspective, it amounts to the home dropping almost $64,000 in value every single week for 94 weeks straight since Feinberg bought it.

One wall of the dining room is a 1,000 gallon salt water aquarium with views into the kitchen on the other side.

Yann Ippolito

Malka told CNBC yearly real estate taxes on the Star Resort run his client around $550,000 a year, plus about $20,000 a month in utilities.

“Plus, the staff and so on, so probably a million dollars of expenses [per year],” Malka said.

Jutting out from the lowest level of the home is a Kobe-Bryant-themed half basketball court.


Trying to unload an expensive mansion in the midst of a banking crisis with the LA real estate market softening and uncertainty looming large isn’t exactly great timing. 

Feinberg, like all luxury mansion sellers in LA, is also contending with the new mansion tax approved by voters in November. The ULA tax, as it’s called, was designed to “fund affordable housing projects and provide resources to tenants at risk of homelessness,” according to the city of Los Angeles website.

It’s levied on the seller as a transfer tax upon the sale of a home, or any real property, that trades for $5 million or more.

The home’s impressive foyer includes double height ceilings and glass walls that open to the pool deck and outdoor bar.

Yann Ippolito

For homes priced between $5 million and $10 million, sellers will have to pay the city 4% of the total sale price. For real estate trading north of $10 million, the rate increases to 5.5%.

The new tax is on top of the city’s current 0.45% transfer tax. And it’s levied based on sale price, not profit, which means sellers will have to pay up even if they’re already taking a loss, as could be the case with the Star Resort.

The city’s website includes a tax calculator, which estimates ULA and city transfer taxes owed on a $38 million deal at $2,261,000, or just under 6% of the total deal.

The primary bedroom is accented by a recessed wood-panel covered ceiling and walls of glass that slide away for access to a private terrace.


For many high-end home sellers and their agents, the race is on to lock in profits and close on a sale before the new tax takes effect. But for Malka, who wouldn’t discuss his client by name with CNBC, the pressure is on to get the best price and rein in his client’s losses before the new tax takes them even higher.

“That’s why we decided to give a good price cut and send a signal to the market that my seller is motivated to sell and that he wants to move on,” said Malka, who still holds out hope he can broker a deal before the first of the month.

After CNBC’s report on the mansion and looming tax bill was published, Malka reached back out to CNBC on Friday to add that the current pricing is intended to pass on tax savings to a buyer willing to close prior to April 1. His client also intends to raise his asking price to $41 million after the tax takes effect with no intention of accepting offers below that price after March, he said.

A bar, billiards table and 250-bottle wine cellar on the home’s lowest level.

Yann Ippolito

Real estate broker Aaron Kirman of AKG/Christies International called the short runway to offload homes before April 1 “crazy.”

“People had a four-month window from the day [the new tax] passed to sell a house,” he said.

Kirman, who is one of LA’s top-producing luxury real estate brokers, does not represent the Star Resort, but he does have many clients who are also in a big rush to sell.

It’s a trend, he said, that’s reflected in LA’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which according to Kirman shows 86 homes with sale prices over $5 million currently in escrow.

A glass wall in the lower lounge offers a view into a sleek car gallery.

Yann Ippolito

“The tax is coming out at a complicated time with interest rates, inflation and bank issues,” Kirman told CNBC. “It couldn’t have been more of a perfect storm.” 

The ULA tax, he said, “has led to dramatic price reductions on many homes.”

Potential homebuyers are swooping in with all-cash offers, and the promise of a fast-closing deal, Kirman said, but at deep discounts.

The Star Resort’s main bar is clad in stone and accented with back lit onyx.

Yann Ippolito

The Star Resort’s backyard includes a an outdoor kitchen & bar, infinity pool and lounge areas.


Jonathan Miller, president of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, told CNBC it will be hard to project the impact of the tax on any one piece of real estate, but he does have a prediction across the region: “It ultimately lowers achievable prices as compared to the period before April 1 and becomes baked into market expectations in the future.”

In other words, the new tax will create a downward pressure on homes over $5 million as owners anticipate the future cost of higher tax bills.

One of the residence’s seven ensuite bedrooms with a private terrace.

Yann Ippolito 

CNBC asked Miller to crunch market data to see how much sellers of luxury single-family homes in LA would have paid in 2022 if the mansion tax were already in effect. Last year, sales of $5 million-plus totaled almost $2.5 billion.

According to his calculations, all of those sellers combined would have racked up a mansion tax bill of almost $131 million. Sellers of homes trading between $5 million and $10 million would have seen an average tax bill of $43,000, according to Miller’s estimates, and sellers of $10 million-and-up homes would have footed an average bill of $1.2 million.

It’s important to note Miller’s analysis focused exclusively on single-family home sales over the price threshold. According to the city’s projections, which include commercial and multifamily sales, the new tax could generate between $600 million and $1.1 billion annually.

The night view from the pools hot tub.

Yann Ippolito 

According to Miller, the rush to sell before the April 1 deadline matches a similar frenzy in New York four years ago.

“When New York implemented the mansion tax in 2019, there was a surge in closings just short of the July 1 start date and a void of sales in the following months,” he said.

Home cinema with Rolls-Royce inspired star lit ceiling.

Yann Ippolito

The primary bedroom’s terrace includes a fire feature and views of the pool below.


Kirman said even with the tax pressures, one thing will remain the same: “The house is worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it.”

And if that amount is over $5 million, there will be some new taxes to pay on it.

The Star Resort’s sport simulation room offers virtual golf, hockey and soccer.


Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of Dan Malka of Ikon Advisors.

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