The guy has so many houses he could have his own season of MTV Cribs.
The 27,000-square-foot estate that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is renovating in Washington, D.C., is just one of several colossal properties he owns around the country: two Beverly Hills, California, houses, whose total purchase value adds up to more than $37 million; hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas, where Bezos’ space tourism company, Blue Origin, is based; four apartments in a building on Central Park West in New York; and several homes in the suburbs of Seattle, not far from Bill Gates.
But according to a gossipy feature in the May issue of Washingtonian, it’s in the salons and private restaurant rooms of high Washington that Bezos has found his scene. “That’s definitely a different Bezos from what we saw here,” Leslie Helm, editor of Seattle Business magazine, told the magazine of Bezos’ low-key life in Amazon’s home city. “I suspect you see more of him in DC than we see of him here.”
Which goes some way toward explaining his purchase, in October 2016, of two adjacent Georgian mansions in the Kalorama neighborhood, which is also home to the Obamas and Javanka. Together, the houses include 11 bedrooms and three kitchens—perfect for America’s richest man, who loves making breakfast. The two houses have enough doors for the Amazon CEO to use a new door every 48 hours all year long; they have enough toilets to deliver a package in a different bathroom nearly every day of the month.
To restore the interiors to early 20th-century domestic glory, Bezos hired the architecture firm Barnes Vanze. Washingtonian got the renovation blueprints through a Freedom of Information Act request.
They reveal the billionaire’s plans to use the larger of the two mansions, which features a two-level ballroom, as a party house, complete with staff bedrooms, offices, bathrooms with stalls, and easy access to a sumptuous back garden. The details are historically informed and not particularly interesting; wood, limestone, glass, and wrought iron will make the place shine like it’s 1914 again.
The architecture may be more interesting from another angle. As Richard Florida observed in September, CEO residence is a major indicator of corporate relocations. That the Kalorama mansion is turning into the most opulent of Bezos’ second homes might be a clue that Amazon’s second headquarters is heading for the Beltway.
And while the Pope and Wood houses (named for their architects, John Russell Pope of Jefferson Memorial fame and Waddy Wood, who designed the nearby Woodrow Wilson house) were most recently the Textile Museum, the Bezos complex epitomizes a hot trend in historic urban neighborhoods: the consolidation of separate apartments and homes into ever-larger mansions whose size is sometimes obscured by obsolete or misleading architectural signaling. Just because there’s a little gap between the mansions doesn’t mean they don’t belong to the same family; they do. It’s just that one is for parties.