Original image

The Quick 10: The 10 Most Expensive Houses in the U.S.

Original image

I know some of you _flossers must be house-hunting out there "“ you've still got a couple of months to get in on that tax credit! So I'm passing on a list compiled by Forbes writer Matthew Woolsey - it's the 10 most expensive homes in the U.S. that are publicly for sale. That means a couple of the big ones (the Spelling Mansion, for instance) are out of play since they are privately listed. But I think you'll be pleased with the ones offered for public sale.

fleurdelys1. Fleur de Lys, Beverly Hills, California. If you've ever wanted to live in Louis XIV's palace at Versailles, you can "“ well, you can if you have $125 million you're willing to part with (don't we all?). It belonged to Suzanne Saperstein, the ex-wife of entrepreneur David Saperstein (he left her in 2006 to marry their nanny, in case you're interested). There's a 50-seat movie theater, a ballroom with frescoed ceilings, a nine-car garage and a library. Rumor has it that Mariah Carey recently made an offer on the mansion.

2. Tranquility, Lake Tahoe, Nevada. This one is owned by Joel Horowitz. You've probably never heard of him, but you know the brand he helped found: Tommy Hilfiger. It's 20,000 square feet and has a 3,500-bottle wine cellar, a 19-seat movie theater (how tiny) and, of course, an indoor swimming pool. It's on the market for a mere $100,000,000.

3. Unnamed, Bel Air, California. Maybe it belongs to Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv? There are 10 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, so there's definitely room for Will, Hilary, Ashley, Carlton and Geoffrey. There's a 1,000-foot-long, 36-foot-high surrounding the property to keep Jazz out, and room for 20 cars in the garage. It's a steal for $85 million!

dunnellen4. Dunnellen Hall, Greenwich, Connecticut. Ah, the economic times have done sad things to the Leona Helmsley's old house "“ it was selling for $125 million (the Helmsleys bought it in 1983 for just $9 million, including furniture) and is now listed at $75 million (scoop it up while you can! It's a buyer's market!). You not only get the 14 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, vaulted ceilings, marble floors, limestone walls and a 52-foot-long swimming pool, you also get the 40 acres of land it sits on. And it kind of has a cool name. Let it be known that if I ever manage to acquire a mansion, it will be known as Toad Hall.

5. Hummingbird Nest Ranch, Simi Valley, California. This $75 million house is for the well-attended buyer: there are 10 "staff houses" on the property. And forget the 20-car garage "“ this Spanish-style ranch has a 37 stalls to keep your thoroughbred horses (they are thoroughbred, aren't they?). What's really nice is that you won't have to pay to have your own helipad installed "“ this house comes with.

6. Unnamed, Upper East Side, New York. For New York, this is enormous: 45 feet wide, six stories tall and 21,00 square feet of space. The space alone is probably worth the asking price of $75 million to some, but it also comes with a garden level, a library, a sauna, a home gym, six bedrooms, three staff rooms, a wine cellar and ten bathrooms. 10 bathrooms on six floors?! Does that seem a little unnecessary, or is that just me?

bootjack7. BootJack Ranch, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I think I could get behind this one. It has also had its price slashed, from $88 million to $68 million. While it only has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, it has a 12,000-foot spa and aquatic center. Yes, please!! It also includes 3,100 acres of land. Not bad, and check out that view "“ gorgeous.
8. Unnamed, Brentwood, California. Lots of amenities here "“ a tennis court, a pool, a sauna, and apparently a den all decked out like a casino, complete with craps table! There are also 17 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms and more than 22,000 square feet altogether.
9. Pickfair, Beverly Hills, California. If I had the money, I'd buy this one just for the history. And the ghosts. There have to be a lot of ghosts roaming around this place. It was building by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in 1919 and was one of the most luxurious houses ever at the time. As far as mansions go, I'm not sure that it's anything too spectacular "“ gardens, a pool, fountains, etc. I'm telling you, it's the ghosts that make this worth $60 million. Yes, I am a dork.

10. Unnamed, Upper East Side, New York. Ten thousand square feet, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a deck on the roof, a living room with 26-foot ceilings and a skylight conservatory "“ that's why this is going for $60 million. Haven't you always wanted to say you have a conservatory? "Hello, good to see you, we're just having some tea in the conservatory, it's such a nice day. Won't you join us?"

And, just for fun, the most expensive private residence ever built is due to be completed this year. Indian trillionaire Mukesh Ambani is having a billion-dollar house constructed that will include a six-floor garage to hold 168 cars, panic rooms, 600 servants and a 27-story mostly-glass tower with a helipad on top.

What mansion would you buy if you had the unlimited means to do so? I have to say, the Winchester Mystery House kind of speaks to me.

Original image
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Original image
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
Original image
Getty Images
40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
Original image
Getty Images

Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


More from mental floss studios