Power Houses Five business bigwigs expose their personal edifice complexes.
By Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Successful people are constantly faced with a question that would annoy the rest of the world: "So, what do I do with all this money?" Some buy fast cars or powerboats or Learjets. Others acquire trophy wives. One of the most ubiquitous expressions of net worth, however, is basic bricks and mortar. From Morgan to Gates, titans have long displayed their edifice complexes--as well as ego, audacity, and eccentricity--in their monuments to themselves. Clothes may make the man, but it's the home that reflects the true self.

On the following pages, you'll meet leaders who own one-of-a-kind residences. Eli Broad has a museumlike mansion containing one of the world's best private collections of contemporary art. Wayne Huizenga has constructed what is probably the planet's most exclusive country club--a personal 55,000-square-foot clubhouse and 18-hole golf course designed by legend-of-the-links Gary Player. Ian Schrager, the man who created hip, "boutique" hotels, contends that kitchens and bathrooms are "the new gathering places." Microsoft's Charles Simonyi lives in a Bondian lair with electronic everything--including a computerized bed that revolves to catch the sunrise. At the other extreme, another founder and chairman of a Fortune 500 company, Corporate Express' Jirka Rysavy, doesn't have a bed at all: He sleeps in a sleeping bag in a tiny cabin with no plumbing. Which goes to show, if you're rich enough, you can live anyway you damn well please.


He's no technology titan or Wall Street wizard. Eli Broad became a billionaire the old-fashioned way: by spotting and exploiting lifestyle trends ahead of the crowd. The only child of Lithuanian immigrants, Broad was a 23-year-old public accountant in Michigan when he recognized the postwar flight to the suburbs as a business opportunity. With $25,000 borrowed from his father-in-law, he bought a small parcel of land and put up some inexpensive single-family homes. His company, Kaufman & Broad, became one of the world's largest homebuilders. In the '70s, detecting baby-boomers' financial concerns, Broad bought an old-line insurer and transformed it into a highly profitable seller of retirement-savings products. In August, Broad, 65, cut a deal to sell the company, SunAmerica, to AIG for $18 billion.

Ever attuned to what's hot in business, Broad is a modernist in his personal tastes too. He is one of the world's preeminent patrons of contemporary art. "Most large American companies are run by managers who preside over the status quo," Broad says. "They're apt to live in traditional homes and be interested in art from previous eras. But if one is an aggressive entrepreneur, he's drawn to new thoughts. And probably to contemporary art and architecture--it's innovative and energetic."

A decade ago, Broad decided to build the ideal house for himself, his wife, Edye, and their vast art collection. Always a risk taker, he bought a treeless three-acre hillside tract in west Los Angeles. "It was a blank canvas," he says. "It was a mess." He hired star architect Frank Gehry (who designed the celebrated new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain), but to Broad's consternation, he says, Gehry took years to come up with a workable plan. So Broad pulled the plug on Gehry, hiring another architect to finish the project. Six exasperating years later, in 1994, Broad and Edye moved in.

The architecture--in itself art--highlights paintings by Johns, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg, and sculptures by Miro, Joel Shapiro, and Calder. The living-room ceiling, for example, is a 55-ton sculpture of I-beams and sheet steel, with skylights to bring in natural light. Outside, a steel sculpture by Richard Serra is so massive--60 tons--that it had to be made at a submarine plant in Rhode Island, then shipped on flatbed trucks to L.A. Broad's name for the sculpture: No Problem. Clearly, here's a man who gets his kicks from a big challenge in any arena.


No one has reflected the zeitgeist of hip, urban, disaffected America with quite the panache that Ian Schrager has. In the 1970s he created Studio 54, casting glamour as self-indulgent, irresponsible glitz. Finally lost in the mood of the era, he and his partner, Steve Rubell, went to jail in 1980 for tax evasion. Now Schrager is back on top, this time in a hospitality trade more mainstream than disco. His very hot, very trendy "boutique" hotels--Manhattan's Royalton, L.A.'s Mondrian, Miami's Delano--draw the well-heeled, who sniff that Hiltons and Marriotts are as culturally obsolete as your father's Oldsmobile. A stylist in a business now controlled by financiers, Schrager posts exceptionally high profits by charging $300 a night and up for tiny rooms with spare, white-swathed decor. After a buying spree this past year, he now owns 16 properties worldwide and is the largest private hotelier in New York.

A cunning reinventor, Schrager has been applying such skills to his most personal hostelry--his home. His Southampton beach house is a vestige of his swinging-single days: In 1985, he and Rubell (who died in 1989) bought the property for $3.2 million as a party venue. Last year, Schrager set about transforming the leaky, drafty 1926 mansion into a weekend home for his wife, Rita, and two young daughters, Sophia and Ava. He knocked out bedrooms (the house had 18), adding a playroom, a spacious kitchen, and a master bathroom with an enormous marble tub for family-style bathing. "I wanted to play around with the traditional way a house is designed," Schrager, 52, says. "Our ideas about the home are based on the Victorian age, when activity revolved around the living room and dining room."

Schrager is renovating another new home, a 7,000-square-foot penthouse on Manhattan's Upper West Side, which he bought for a reported $9 million (a record for the area). He's getting rid of the dining room. A huge kitchen will be "the main living space," he says, and have the prime Central Park view. The highlight is a 600-square-foot bathroom. "It's like a water salon," Schrager says. "Treating your body well is the modern idea of luxury."


To many people, the good life means building a house on a golf course. To Wayne Huizenga, it means building a golf course in his backyard. On 2,000 acres in southern Florida, the billionaire entrepreneur (Waste Management, Blockbuster) has his weekend spread and his own fantasyland: a home, a private 18-hole golf course, a new 55,000-square-foot clubhouse, three large guest houses, two helicopter pads, and 68 boat slips for whoever happens to fly or float in.

The Floridian, as the club is called, has no paying members, just 100 or so "honorary" ones. And who might they be? Huizenga's family (he and wife Marti have four children) plus folks he likes to hang out with--Jack Welch, Lou Gerstner, AlliedSignal's Larry Bossidy, BankAmerica's Hugh McColl. "What could be better?" says Huizenga, 60, sounding like Richie Rich as he zips around in one of his 46 golf carts. "We don't ever have to worry about playing golf with someone we don't like."

It's a real Wayne's World: The flags on every green display the logos of Huizenga's sports teams--the Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, and Florida Marlins (which he's selling). It was right here on this par-72 course that Jack Welch beat Greg Norman last year. Says Huizenga, who has a 16 handicap: "Jack shot a 69. Greg shot a 70. Jack slipped that 18th cup, or else he would've had a 68."

Huizenga, who started his career hauling trash, is living and dreaming larger than ever. His new auto sales and rental venture, Republic Industries, is approaching $20 billion in sales. He says, "I think it can be at $60 billion in three or four years."


On the banks of Lake Washington, one of the nation's top spots for extraordinarily high-priced homebuying, presides Bill Gates' sprawling new Xanadu. And just down the shore sits a glass-and-steel techno-palace belonging to another Microsoft legend--one you may not have heard of--Charles Simonyi. Simonyi is a chief software architect at Microsoft. An immigrant from Hungary, he joined the company in 1981 and headed the group that developed Word and Excel. Now 50, he brings the same evolutionary ethic to his residence that he applies to software. "The house is organic," he says. "I bought it in 1989, and it was a narrow space, difficult to build on. The house started small. I've expanded and expanded, building it in many waves."

The place is quirky, enigmatic, multifaceted--like its owner. From the street, the house looks small and uninviting. From the waterfront, it's a four-story monster of clashing shapes and angles. "It's a form of aggression," he says, smiling.

Like other Microsofties, Simonyi shows off at home with technology. His bed rotates to greet the morning sun, and his blinds rise automatically at wake-up time. He has three virtual-reality exercise machines (one stair climber simulates flying). A computer room looks as if it belongs at the CIA--minus the beanbag chairs.

Never satisfied, Simonyi is adding a party kitchen, a service elevator, and more library space. Speaking of his boss, he says, "People admire Bill for different reasons. I admire him for his library space. I've got library envy. Major library envy."


Up a serpentine Rocky Mountain road, 2,500 feet above Boulder, sits a tiny cabin so remote that FedEx doesn't even deliver here. It has no indoor plumbing. An outhouse sits across the dirt road. The kitchen has the bare essentials--toaster oven, hot plate. The FORTUNE 500 company boss who lives here year-round makes dinner--Tofu Pups and other vegetarian "food"--outside over an open fire. An environmental guy, he uses twigs to cook.

Jirka Rysavy, 44, is the founder and chairman of Corporate Express, the world's largest supplier of office products and procurement services to corporations. A native of Czechoslovakia and onetime champion hurdler there, Rysavy moved to the U.S. in 1984 and started a business selling recycled office products. Following a formula that the late Sam Walton would have blessed--sell cheap and more efficiently than anybody else--he's increased revenues to an estimated $4.5 billion this year. Corporate Express, with 27,500 employees in ten countries, doesn't operate stores. It sells direct, providing one-stop shopping--from staplers and software to furniture--to customers such as General Motors, J.P. Morgan, and Oracle. Rysavy is personally worth over $75 million.

Sitting on the floor of his dimly lit study, the lanky, soft-spoken chairman explains that he prefers to keep his life simple and frugal--like his business. "I have everything I always wanted. Just because I have money, why should I buy extra stuff?"