x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

So easy to see how the other half lives

Coverage of celebrity real estate is an international growth industry.

Nicolas Cage overpaid for a British castle.
Nicolas Cage overpaid for a British castle.

Like voyeuristic moths we are drawn to celebrity homes.

They fascinate us, horrify us and make us envious. We want to own their homes or at least wander through them and admire their furniture.

To satisfy our curiosity an international cottage industry has developed, giving us breaking news and inside information on the latest residential dealings of everyone from the singer Christina Aguilera to the retired French footballer Zinedine Zidane.

Newspaper columns, magazines and breathless blogs relate every detail of their transactions and decorating tastes and we eat it up. Celebrity is one of the few growth sectors in media, spawning new outlets on a regular basis, creating a new genre combining gossip and square footage. Even such august publications as TheWall Street Journal and The Times get into the act, knowing they can't ignore our cravings for information.

Covering the property deals of celebrities "is just another arm of that [celebrity media] octopus," says Mark David, who runs Real Estalker, one of the leading web sites devoted to exhaustive analysis of celebrity homes.

Trying to dive into the sociological implications of celebrity media is dicey territory. Analysing the rabid interest in their homes is even more convoluted. "How a person lives says a lot about who they are - or who they think they are," says Mr David. "Seeing celebrity homes is a window into the real lives of people who make a living pretending to be other people."

Thanks to the output of these celebrity media hordes we now know that the entertainer Madonna is something of a property mogul, with a shrewd eye on high-end neighbourhoods in London and New York; Nicolas Cage, the actor, overpaid for a British castle and several New Orleans mansions; and waif supermodel Kate Moss sold her St Johns Wood home for £10 million (Dh59.5m).

In many cases we may not care about the celebrity, but we still read every detail of their purchases and sales, perhaps thinking that someday we may own a home where a celebrity once burnt their morning toast.