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Jeff Bezos could set a record in luxury real estate (Update: He did it)

What a $100 million home purchase would say about Amazon’s founder.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos poses for a photo at an Amazon event with his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos is the world’s wealthiest person — and he’s finally beginning to live like it.

Bezos is reportedly scouting for homes in the Los Angeles area that cost as much as nine figures, which would rank among the largest purchases of residential real estate in California history. The prospective deal serves as another reflection of how he has transformed over the last two years, from a nerdy tech executive into a tabloid star mired in sex scandals, international investigations, and now, conspicuous consumption.

Bezos — all $126.3 billion of him — is leaning into the spotlight.

The Amazon founder is being scrutinized by his critics more than ever before for his wealth and power: Bezos is one of the globe’s most influential people — reshaping our lives, our economy, and even the environment — and so how he lives his own life is closely watched. But he doesn’t seem to care.

It’s a new tack that began about a year ago. Bezos shocked the world when he published a Medium post that recounted tawdry details of his personal life in an attempt to subdue a blackmail attempt from the National Enquirer. Recently, he’s expressed this new comfort in ways far more subtle — whether it is through a selfie with Lizzo at the Super Bowl or by gracing the birthday parties of media moguls like Mark Burnett.

His message, in short? Welcome to my life.

To a certain extent, the klieg lights have found him whether he likes it or not. He is not just a wealthy person, but the world’s wealthiest person (his net worth grew by $13 billion in just a single day last week). Surely he did not expect his purchase of the Washington Post in 2013 to turn him into a presidential piñata in a future administration. And shrinking violet or not, Bezos could not control the circumstances that led to his alleged WhatsApp hack by Mohammed bin Salman, an intrusion that has led to a probe by the United Nations.

But even how Bezos is handling his homes — traditionally the most public-facing and single biggest outlays of cash for billionaires across the world — is a sign of this moment for him. Bezos didn’t just buy a mansion in Washington, DC, a stone’s throw away from Barack and Michelle Obama in Kalorama — after he did, he hosted a massive party for official Washington following the town’s annual elite soiree, the Alfalfa Club banquet. He has hosted stars like Matt Damon and Casey Affleck at his home in Beverly Hills, spreading the gospel of Amazon Studios as he celebrated its movies like Manchester by the Sea, and he keeps showing up on the awards circuit.

He has become the world’s 28th largest private landowner, from acres of West Texas ranch land to one of New York City’s most prestige locations.

And now, with another home in Los Angeles, Bezos would cement himself in the history books of luxury spending. He and his girlfriend following his costly divorce, Lauren Sanchez, have reportedly been looking for homes at price tags of over $100 million, including a home that set the record for the state’s most expensive purchase (bought by Lachlan Murdoch in December for $150 million). Silicon Valley’s most expensive home purchases belong to SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son ($118 million) and Russian investor Yuri Milner ($100 million).

The message this all sends is perhaps summarized best by one quote offered to the New York Post by the real estate broker who showed them the Murdoch home — a quote that would seem to describe so many other celebrities before Bezos until relatively recently.

“He is always looking,” the broker, Drew Mandile, said of Bezos. “He is an energetic man who has a large appetite.”

Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that Bezos has made a $175 million purchase of a mansion owned by David Geffen, a buy that is the largest residential-property deal in California history.

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