Sometimes, the 11 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms in your house simply aren’t enough. Just ask construction tycoon Robert Pereira, whose 60,500-square feet Florida mega-mansion went back on the market this week because he apparently changed his mind about wanting to live there.

The asking price of $159m makes it the most expensive private listing in the country. The lucky buyer of the 4.4 acre Hillsboro Beach estate, if there ever is one, will become the proud owner of an on-site nightclub, ice-skating rink, bowling alley, go-kart circuit and private Imax cinema alongside the cavernous residence.

Yet behind the ornate gates, which are gilded of course in 22-karat yellow gold leaf, and beyond the $2m marble staircase of the property dubbed Le Palais Royale after the Versailles palace it was modelled on, lies the story of a family whose extreme wealth and extravagance seems to constantly be leading them on to the next best thing.

Pereira, who founded the Massachusetts-based Middlesex Corporation in 1972 and amassed a fortune from asphalt paving, bridge building and the construction of railway stations, among other projects including a 13-year tenure as strip club co-owner in Tyngsboro, has always had an eye for excess. He bought the waterfront mansion through a trust in 2001 with the intention of developing the site to provide a luxurious home for his family to enjoy, friends told the Guardian.

“The owner had a vision and wanted to build something spectacular,” said Mayi de la Vega, the Miami real-estate agent handling the sale.

“No corner was cut, nothing was too expensive. They wanted the very best of everything and really thought it through. You feel the quality when you walk through the property, the craftsmanship and attention, it’s all there.

“They used the finest materials, there’s $3m worth of gold leafing. At one point they wanted to live there.”

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