How Many Billionaires Does It Take to Buy Manhattan?

We enjoy poring over the latest issue of Forbes’ World Billionaires List as much as the next person, watching the billions stack up every year, but have you ever realistically considered what that kind of money could actually mean? We just did. And being in the business we’re in, we decided to count the dollars not in BigMac’s or iPhones, but rather in property. A whole lot of property.

We took the nation’s most expensive real estate market and sized it up against the world’s richest people. The result? Looks like however high Manhattan home prices climb, some people’s fortunes more than keep pace with them. So much so that just the first 12 richest entries on Forbes’ list could split up all of Manhattan’s residential stock between them, and still have a few cents left in their pockets.

And what about the outer-boroughs, you ask? Sprawling Queens would have a record low population density under this scenario, with just the top 3 billionaires – Gates, Ortega and Buffett – having enough zeroes between them to buy the entire borough, for a total value of $192.5B.

As for Brooklyn, it would be the turf of the next 6 billionaires on the Top 10 Richest list, once they put forth a little over $245B to cover the bill. Ranking 4th to 9th on the Forbes list, Carlos Slim Helu, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch could trade in pieces of Manhattan for the entirety of cool Brooklyn.

Curious to see who got which neighborhoods in Manhattan? Just take a look below.


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In calculating the overall value of neighborhoods, we took into account all residential property. The total number of residential units in a neighborhood (single- and two-family houses, condo and co-op units) was multiplied by the average sale price recorded in that neighborhood for Q3 2016, resulting in an approximate value for said neighborhood. The only criteria considered when matching Forbes’ list entries with specific neighborhoods were, respectively, their wealth and total property value.

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