The New York Times recently reported on the lengths celebrities go to in order to maintain their anonymity when buying property in New York City ("Keep My Boldface Name Out Of It"). Real estate brokers interviewed for the article described signing confidentiality agreements with clients, taking them to view apartments in the dead of night, and employing code words for their clients in order to avoid the ever-prying eyes of professional celebrity watchers. They also described a tactic that is becoming more popular with celebrities, purchasing property in the name of a trust or limited liability company to hide the identity of the true owner, as in this example of a famous tabloid friend:
[W]hen Jennifer Aniston — whose search for a home in Manhattan was chronicled with the same intensity as every change in her hairstyle and relationship status — reportedly settled on a West Village apartment last month, her name appeared nowhere on the paperwork.
But her dog’s did. As was widely reported, the corgi-terrier mix (who has since died) lent his name to the Norman’s Nest Trust, which purchased several apartments in a building on West 12th Street; Bruce Lagnese, Ms. Aniston’s business manager, signed the documents.
Increasingly, however, celebrities are not alone in seeking to hide their identities. The article notes that "Wall Street types are more eager than ever to keep their multimillion-dollar real estate deals away from prying eyes," both because of the "public scorn" with which many are held and, more importantly apparently, to protect assets from their spouses in case their marriages "hit the rocks."
The article does note that not all celebrities hide from the spotlight as they apartment shop. Courtney Love shared nearly every aspect of her search for the "perfect downtown town house" through correspondence with the editors at Curbed NY and through Twitter. In case you are wondering, she settled on renting a cozy place on West 10th Street for $28,000 a month.