When a Still Photography Shoot Gives You a Glimpse at the 1 Percent

With only 536 billionaires in this country, it’s not as if this group is easy to get into. Bill Gates is leading the pack, and financial experts estimate that in 25 years, he may just be the world’s first trillionaire.

Having a hard time wrapping your brain around what a trillion dollars looks like? It’s a one, followed by 12 zeros. What does that mean in real life? It means even if you had the stamina to drop a million bucks a day, you’d have to spend 2,739 years doing it before you deplete your trillion dollars. That’s how much a trillion dollars is.

Not every day can you feel like a million — let alone a billion or trillion — bucks, but I recently had the opportunity to see how that “other half lives.” To be more precise, when I say other half, I mean the upper 1 percent of the country.

Le Palais Royal — A Professional Still Photographer’s Dream Come True

As a professional fashion photographer, I’ve shot in many gorgeous places. My recent still photography location shoot at Le Palais Royal in Florida, a 60,000-square-foot mansion, may just top that list.

For this fashion and architectural photoshoot, we were showcasing one of the most expensive houses in the United States. Inspired by the great European castles, the Beaux Arts mansion boasts 11 bedrooms, 18 bathrooms and details so ornate and complicated it has redefined luxury residential construction.

Developed by Joseph Leone — an innovative thinker, for sure — this mansion has his signature mark. Perfection, distinction, creativity all come from Leone’s larger-than-life imagination. Once a jewelry designer, now a developer, his attention to detail is beyond enviable. Leone was born in Italy and spent his formidable years in France. His father was a tailor with a strong creative eye and unwavering commitment to detail. His mother was business-savvy. Leone gained the traits of both to become the developer he is today.

The finishes are opulently extraordinary to say the least! Just walking through it, you can see and feel the depth and detail. He leaves nothing to chance, from the marble-laden bathrooms to the hand-carved wall and ceiling details. Then, he covered the estate with $6 million in gold leafing that took over six months of non-stop work by 12 French artisans to create.

My camera lens had never been treated so well. The home is truly a sight to behold with its many amenities and forward-thinking touches:

  • The 8-feet-wide, 5-feet-tall chandelier gracing the main lobby, which once hung in an Austrian church, now is on a motorized pulley to raise and lower it for easy cleaning.

  • It has the first private IMAX in-home theater in the world.

  • You enter the residence through a 22-carat gold entrance gate.

  • There’s a 26-foot gold-leaf-plated fountain.

  • The garage is an underground showroom for 30 cars.

  • You’ll never spot an air vent or electrical outlet — all are hidden from view.

  • With soundproofing everywhere, you’ll also never hear the water running through the house or rainwater dripping in the gutters.

  • Special lighting inspired by the world’s finest museums backlights every piece of artwork in the home.

Indulge in the Beauty

As a professional still photographer with clients throughout the country — from New York to LA, Miami to Nashville — I’ve had my share of beautiful locations. This one, however, is in a class of its own. View some shots from this series to see for yourself- this is the kind of opulence that has redefined luxury real estate.