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Strategy Inside the most expensive part of the world's most expensive city, the Hong Kong billionaire enclave where Alibaba founder Jack Ma may have bought a $191 million mansion

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The Peak is the most expensive neighborhood in Hong Kong, the world's most expensive city, and home to billionaires — including, possibly, Alibaba's Jack Ma.

You need an incredible amount of money to live in The Peak. play

You need an incredible amount of money to live in The Peak.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

  • Hong Kong's most expensive neighborhood is The Peak.
  • The Peak is a gorgeous, secluded neighborhood that overlooks Hong Kong and is home to bankers, expatriates, business magnates, celebrities, and millionaires and billionaires.
  • Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire who founded Alibaba, is said to have purchased a $191 million mansion in the neighborhood in 2015, but it has never been confirmed.

Every city has that neighborhood — an address that signifies wealth. New York City has Fifth Avenue, London has Kensington, and Miami has South Beach.

Hong Kong has The Peak — short for Victoria Peak — a neighborhood that has been synonymous with wealth, luxury, and exclusivity since the colonial era.

As the least affordable city in the world for eight years running, Hong Kong takes the cake when it comes to luxury real estate.

At various times over the past decade, Pollock's Path, Barker Road, and Severn Road — all streets on The Peak — have claimed the title of the world's most expensive street.

The neighborhood is home to a mix of bankers, expatriates, business magnates, celebrities, and, more recently, Chinese millionaires and billionaires looking for a place to invest or vacation away from pollution in cities on the mainland.

It's the kind of neighborhood that consistently breaks records for the most expensive real estate in the world. In 2015, it was rumored that Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire who founded Alibaba, purchased a $191 million mansion there, but it has never been confirmed.

Last month, an unidentified buyer broke the record for the most expensive real estate in Asia, purchasing a 9,217-square-foot villa on The Peak for about $180 million, making it about $19,400 per square foot.

I recently visited the ritzy neighborhood to see why it continues to house some of the most coveted addresses in the world. It did not disappoint.

The Peak is the neighborhood surrounding Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, with an elevation of 1,811 feet. I took a taxi to get to Victoria Peak Lookout, a major tourist destination.

The Peak is the neighborhood surrounding Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, with an elevation of 1,811 feet. I took a taxi to get to Victoria Peak Lookout, a major tourist destination. play

The Peak is the neighborhood surrounding Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, with an elevation of 1,811 feet. I took a taxi to get to Victoria Peak Lookout, a major tourist destination.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


Most tourists ride the Peak Tram up. The Peak Galleria, a mega mall (read: tourist trap) at the top of the tramway is complete with souvenirs and a Madame Tussauds.

Most tourists ride the Peak Tram up. The Peak Galleria, a mega mall (read: tourist trap) at the top of the tramway is complete with souvenirs and a Madame Tussauds. play

Most tourists ride the Peak Tram up. The Peak Galleria, a mega mall (read: tourist trap) at the top of the tramway is complete with souvenirs and a Madame Tussauds.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


The Peak has been the city's most exclusive neighborhood for more than 100 years. Until 1947, only the British and Europeans were allowed to live there — a policy that infuriated Hong Kong's Chinese citizens. Before the tramway, residents were carried up the mountain on sedan chairs carried by migrant laborers.

The tramway and nearby buildings around 1900. play

The tramway and nearby buildings around 1900.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Source: Frommer's, CNN Travel



Wealthy people first moved to the area because it was thought to be cooler than the sweaty streets in the city center. In a place as packed as Hong Kong, the neighborhood feels a world away. It's secluded by winding streets and thick tropical vegetation, and the view is unbeatable.

Wealthy people first moved to the area because it was thought to be cooler than the sweaty streets in the city center. In a place as packed as Hong Kong, the neighborhood feels a world away. It's secluded by winding streets and thick tropical vegetation, and the view is unbeatable. play

Wealthy people first moved to the area because it was thought to be cooler than the sweaty streets in the city center. In a place as packed as Hong Kong, the neighborhood feels a world away. It's secluded by winding streets and thick tropical vegetation, and the view is unbeatable.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


Victoria Peak is a popular day trip for people in Hong Kong. On the day I visited, it was packed with families enjoying picnics, joggers running a 5K for charity, and hikers snaking through the park's many paths. It feels kind of like a mash-up of Central Park and Beverly Hills.

Victoria Peak is a popular day trip for people in Hong Kong. On the day I visited, it was packed with families enjoying picnics, joggers running a 5K for charity, and hikers snaking through the park's many paths. It feels kind of like a mash-up of Central Park and Beverly Hills. play

Victoria Peak is a popular day trip for people in Hong Kong. On the day I visited, it was packed with families enjoying picnics, joggers running a 5K for charity, and hikers snaking through the park's many paths. It feels kind of like a mash-up of Central Park and Beverly Hills.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


A few mansions are visible from the Circle Walk, the most popular walking path at Victoria Peak. But most are far from tourists' prying eyes.

A few mansions are visible from the Circle Walk, the most popular walking path at Victoria Peak. But most are far from tourists' prying eyes. play

A few mansions are visible from the Circle Walk, the most popular walking path at Victoria Peak. But most are far from tourists' prying eyes.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


It’s the kind of place where flashy luxury cars are constantly speeding by. I saw numerous Porsches, Bentleys, and Mercedes-Benzes while walking around the neighborhood.

It’s the kind of place where flashy luxury cars are constantly speeding by. I saw numerous Porsches, Bentleys, and Mercedes-Benzes while walking around the neighborhood. play

It’s the kind of place where flashy luxury cars are constantly speeding by. I saw numerous Porsches, Bentleys, and Mercedes-Benzes while walking around the neighborhood.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


While a luxury home in Hong Kong is worth about $4.9 million on average, houses in the city start at $40 million and can go above $100 million, according to Bruce Li, a manager at Asia Pacific Properties.

While a luxury home in Hong Kong is worth about $4.9 million on average, houses in the city start at $40 million and can go above $100 million, according to Bruce Li, a manager at Asia Pacific Properties. play

While a luxury home in Hong Kong is worth about $4.9 million on average, houses in the city start at $40 million and can go above $100 million, according to Bruce Li, a manager at Asia Pacific Properties.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Mansion Global



The Peak has long been a neighborhood that caters to wealthy expats, many of whom work in international finance, the city's predominant industry. But even an apartment there costs a fortune, ranging from about $5 million to $13 million, according to Li.

The Peak has long been a neighborhood that caters to wealthy expats, many of whom work in international finance, the city's predominant industry. But even an apartment there costs a fortune, ranging from about $5 million to $13 million, according to Li. play

The Peak has long been a neighborhood that caters to wealthy expats, many of whom work in international finance, the city's predominant industry. But even an apartment there costs a fortune, ranging from about $5 million to $13 million, according to Li.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Mansion Global



The most expensive apartment at Twelve Peaks, an ultraluxury apartment complex that opened in 2015, sold for $105 million. This is the main entrance to the complex.

The most expensive apartment at Twelve Peaks, an ultraluxury apartment complex that opened in 2015, sold for $105 million. This is the main entrance to the complex. play

The most expensive apartment at Twelve Peaks, an ultraluxury apartment complex that opened in 2015, sold for $105 million. This is the main entrance to the complex.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: South China Morning Post



The price for a townhouse is about $20 million. One resident described living on The Peak as "very pleasant" to Engel & Volkers, a real-estate company. "The higher up you get, the quieter it gets," they said, "and the air is noticeably cooler."

The price for a townhouse is about $20 million. One resident described living on The Peak as "very pleasant" to Engel & Volkers, a real-estate company. "The higher up you get, the quieter it gets," they said, "and the air is noticeably cooler." play

The price for a townhouse is about $20 million. One resident described living on The Peak as "very pleasant" to Engel & Volkers, a real-estate company. "The higher up you get, the quieter it gets," they said, "and the air is noticeably cooler."

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Engel & Volkers



Security is tight in The Peak. Barbed wire lines the top of fences, security guards sit in guardhouses at the front of every apartment complex, and houses are set far away from the road behind large security gates.

Security is tight in The Peak. Barbed wire lines the top of fences, security guards sit in guardhouses at the front of every apartment complex, and houses are set far away from the road behind large security gates. play

Security is tight in The Peak. Barbed wire lines the top of fences, security guards sit in guardhouses at the front of every apartment complex, and houses are set far away from the road behind large security gates.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


Despite the neighborhood's secluded mountaintop location, there are a few commercial areas for residents, as well as private schools and parks. This supermarket looked as if it were plucked right out of Whole Foods.

Despite the neighborhood's secluded mountaintop location, there are a few commercial areas for residents, as well as private schools and parks. This supermarket looked as if it were plucked right out of Whole Foods. play

Despite the neighborhood's secluded mountaintop location, there are a few commercial areas for residents, as well as private schools and parks. This supermarket looked as if it were plucked right out of Whole Foods.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


The cars in the parking lot of the supermarket weren't too shabby either.

The cars in the parking lot of the supermarket weren't too shabby either. play

The cars in the parking lot of the supermarket weren't too shabby either.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


The neighborhood is one of two that are home to Hong Kong's wealthiest and most powerful citizens, including CY Leung, Hong Kong's chief executive from 2012 to 2017 — this is his house.

The neighborhood is one of two that are home to Hong Kong's wealthiest and most powerful citizens, including CY Leung, Hong Kong's chief executive from 2012 to 2017 — this is his house. play

The neighborhood is one of two that are home to Hong Kong's wealthiest and most powerful citizens, including CY Leung, Hong Kong's chief executive from 2012 to 2017 — this is his house.

(Reuters)


In most cases, the houses and apartment complexes are set so far into the mountain and off the main roads that all you can see are the gates.

In most cases, the houses and apartment complexes are set so far into the mountain and off the main roads that all you can see are the gates. play

In most cases, the houses and apartment complexes are set so far into the mountain and off the main roads that all you can see are the gates.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


When I tried to find what lay below at King's Court, a complex of townhouses and apartments, all I could see was a series of winding roads. But the view, stretching clear to the water, was spectacular.

When I tried to find what lay below at King's Court, a complex of townhouses and apartments, all I could see was a series of winding roads. But the view, stretching clear to the water, was spectacular. play

When I tried to find what lay below at King's Court, a complex of townhouses and apartments, all I could see was a series of winding roads. But the view, stretching clear to the water, was spectacular.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


"Privacy and the view from The Peak make it sought-after," Zackary Wright, a senior vice president at Christie's International Real Estate, told Mansion Global. "There is a long winding road up to The Peak and many homes are hidden behind trees, which impart a sense of remoteness, even though this is a large and exclusive community in the hills."

"Privacy and the view from The Peak make it sought-after," Zackary Wright, a senior vice president at Christie's International Real Estate, told Mansion Global. "There is a long winding road up to The Peak and many homes are hidden behind trees, which impart a sense of remoteness, even though this is a large and exclusive community in the hills." play

"Privacy and the view from The Peak make it sought-after," Zackary Wright, a senior vice president at Christie's International Real Estate, told Mansion Global. "There is a long winding road up to The Peak and many homes are hidden behind trees, which impart a sense of remoteness, even though this is a large and exclusive community in the hills."

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Mansion Global



While The Peak has always been highly sought-after — and as Hong Kong as a whole is exorbitantly expensive — the market has been pushed to new heights by a wave of purchases by business magnates from mainland China. In 2016, Chinese buyers bought an estimated $514 million worth of property in the neighborhood.

While The Peak has always been highly sought-after — and as Hong Kong as a whole is exorbitantly expensive — the market has been pushed to new heights by a wave of purchases by business magnates from mainland China. In 2016, Chinese buyers bought an estimated $514 million worth of property in the neighborhood. play

While The Peak has always been highly sought-after — and as Hong Kong as a whole is exorbitantly expensive — the market has been pushed to new heights by a wave of purchases by business magnates from mainland China. In 2016, Chinese buyers bought an estimated $514 million worth of property in the neighborhood.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Mansion Global



In 2016, Chen Hongtian, the chairman of the real-estate development firm Cheung Kei Group, purchased a 9,212-square-foot mansion at 15 Gough Hill Road for $270 million, or about $29,300 per square foot.

In 2016, Chen Hongtian, the chairman of the real-estate development firm Cheung Kei Group, purchased a 9,212-square-foot mansion at 15 Gough Hill Road for $270 million, or about $29,300 per square foot. play

In 2016, Chen Hongtian, the chairman of the real-estate development firm Cheung Kei Group, purchased a 9,212-square-foot mansion at 15 Gough Hill Road for $270 million, or about $29,300 per square foot.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: South China Morning Post



Chen's new abode, where he intends to live with his family, is being redeveloped. Of the exorbitant purchase, Chen told the South China Morning Post: "It's not for speculation ... You can hardly make any profit from properties like this."

Chen's new abode, where he intends to live with his family, is being redeveloped. Of the exorbitant purchase, Chen told the South China Morning Post: "It's not for speculation ... You can hardly make any profit from properties like this." play

Chen's new abode, where he intends to live with his family, is being redeveloped. Of the exorbitant purchase, Chen told the South China Morning Post: "It's not for speculation ... You can hardly make any profit from properties like this."

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


Chen also owns a 5,154-square-foot apartment at Opus Hong Kong, an apartment building designed by the American architect Frank Gehry at The Peak. The last available unit sold in 2015 for $66 million — making it the most expensive apartment in Asia at the time by price per square foot, according to Wright.

Chen also owns a 5,154-square-foot apartment at Opus Hong Kong, an apartment building designed by the American architect Frank Gehry at The Peak. The last available unit sold in 2015 for $66 million — making it the most expensive apartment in Asia at the time by price per square foot, according to Wright. play

Chen also owns a 5,154-square-foot apartment at Opus Hong Kong, an apartment building designed by the American architect Frank Gehry at The Peak. The last available unit sold in 2015 for $66 million — making it the most expensive apartment in Asia at the time by price per square foot, according to Wright.

(Courtesy of Opus Hong Kong)

Source: Mansion Global



One of the most famous and historic houses at The Peak is that of the chief justice of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. The house, built in 1893, is known as the Clavadel. It was one of the first houses built on The Peak.

One of the most famous and historic houses at The Peak is that of the chief justice of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. The house, built in 1893, is known as the Clavadel. It was one of the first houses built on The Peak. play

One of the most famous and historic houses at The Peak is that of the chief justice of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal. The house, built in 1893, is known as the Clavadel. It was one of the first houses built on The Peak.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


The security at the Justice's house was top-notch. In addition to the high spiked fence and cameras, guards were standing around the property.

The security at the Justice's house was top-notch. In addition to the high spiked fence and cameras, guards were standing around the property. play

The security at the Justice's house was top-notch. In addition to the high spiked fence and cameras, guards were standing around the property.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


This house nearby at 28 Gough Hill Road was very regal.

This house nearby at 28 Gough Hill Road was very regal. play

This house nearby at 28 Gough Hill Road was very regal.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


These modern townhouses are at 37 Severn Road, once considered the most expensive street in the world.

These modern townhouses are at 37 Severn Road, once considered the most expensive street in the world. play

These modern townhouses are at 37 Severn Road, once considered the most expensive street in the world.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: Business Insider



But nearby Pollock's Path overtook Severn Road in 2013, according to Wealth-X.

But nearby Pollock's Path overtook Severn Road in 2013, according to Wealth-X. play

But nearby Pollock's Path overtook Severn Road in 2013, according to Wealth-X.

(REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Source: Wealth-X



Last year, the Hong Kong billionaire Yeung Kin-man purchased No. 1 & 3 on Pollock's Path for $361 million. Yeung's company, Biel Crystal Manufactory, makes screens for two out of every three iPhones in the world.

Last year, the Hong Kong billionaire Yeung Kin-man purchased No. 1 & 3 on Pollock's Path for $361 million. Yeung's company, Biel Crystal Manufactory, makes screens for two out of every three iPhones in the world. play

Last year, the Hong Kong billionaire Yeung Kin-man purchased No. 1 & 3 on Pollock's Path for $361 million. Yeung's company, Biel Crystal Manufactory, makes screens for two out of every three iPhones in the world.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)

Source: South China Morning Post



The record price for real estate in the city was broken in December when Lin Zhongmin purchased two apartments spanning 8,821 square feet in No. 8 Mount Nicholson for about $150 million, or $17,000 per square foot.

The record price for real estate in the city was broken in December when Lin Zhongmin purchased two apartments spanning 8,821 square feet in No. 8 Mount Nicholson for about $150 million, or $17,000 per square foot. play

The record price for real estate in the city was broken in December when Lin Zhongmin purchased two apartments spanning 8,821 square feet in No. 8 Mount Nicholson for about $150 million, or $17,000 per square foot.

(The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd.)

Source: South China Morning Post



The record was broken again last month in the same development. An unnamed buyer spent about $180 million on this 9,217-square-foot villa featuring a swimming pool and an elevator.

The record was broken again last month in the same development. An unnamed buyer spent about $180 million on this 9,217-square-foot villa featuring a swimming pool and an elevator. play

The record was broken again last month in the same development. An unnamed buyer spent about $180 million on this 9,217-square-foot villa featuring a swimming pool and an elevator.

(The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd.)

Source: Bloomberg



The house Jack Ma is believed to have bought is at 22 Barker Road. It sold for $191 million, but it appeared to be under construction when I walked by. Little has been written about the property since the sale.

The house Jack Ma is believed to have bought is at 22 Barker Road. It sold for $191 million, but it appeared to be under construction when I walked by. Little has been written about the property since the sale. play

The house Jack Ma is believed to have bought is at 22 Barker Road. It sold for $191 million, but it appeared to be under construction when I walked by. Little has been written about the property since the sale.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


It's not hard to see what Ma — or any of China's uber-rich — sees in the neighborhood. The landscape is unreal.

It's not hard to see what Ma — or any of China's uber-rich — sees in the neighborhood. The landscape is unreal. play

It's not hard to see what Ma — or any of China's uber-rich — sees in the neighborhood. The landscape is unreal.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)


The hustle and bustle of the city is light years away. And yet, I walked down to central Hong Kong from Ma's supposed property in an hour. Not bad.

The hustle and bustle of the city is light years away. And yet, I walked down to central Hong Kong from Ma's supposed property in an hour. Not bad. play

The hustle and bustle of the city is light years away. And yet, I walked down to central Hong Kong from Ma's supposed property in an hour. Not bad.

(Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider)