“trophy wife” “trophy tree” has become a new status symbol for America’s super-rich during the virus pandemic, according to WSJ. In a culture where things are “on-demand,” the rich aren’t waiting around for seedlings to transform into large trees with lush canopies – they’re calling tree brokers to find the perfect tree.
Walter Acree, owner of landscaping business Green Integrity’s in South Florida, is part of a lucrative business: helping the super-rich find a trophy tree for their multi-million dollar estates.
“I’m kind of unique,” said Acree. “Not a lot of people do what I do.”
Acree, 61, an exotic tree broker, hunts for the perfect trees for residential and commercial clients. A client of his recently was quoted at $250,000 to purchase a tree from a private owner and move it to a new site.
Trees On The Move
Acree’s business has been steadily growing over the last five years, but with everyone fleeing Northeast cities for warm South Florida markets. He said his business had been absolutely on fire since the pandemic.
“It’s the busiest the business has ever been, and we’re doing things at a scale that is just remarkable,” Tim Johnson, a partner at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design in Miami. He said the wealthy are demanding nondisclosure agreements to keep their horticultural endeavors super secret.
Johnson said several wealthy clients bought properties next store to demolish the home and extend their gardens.
A few years back, he said one of his clients was in a bidding war with basketball star Michael Jordan over a 45-foot canopied oak tree.
Cash-strapped elites don’t want to wait two decades to see a tree grow, and this is primarily why many of them are purchasing trees with a price range of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the species of the tree and, of course, appearance.
Michael Chen, a Los Angeles real estate developer, told WSJ he spent 18 months searching for the perfect tree to install in the middle of his $65 million Beverly Hills mansion. The 150-year-old, 15-foot olive tree that was imported from Tuscany, which he calls the “tree of life.”
For the super-rich, it’s not just about the trophy wife and owning a 1960s Ferrari – but also owning a piece of nature as they push their horticultural ambitions towards trophy trees. At least these virtue-signaling elites can point to their tree and the good things they’re doing in life to solve climate change right as they step into their private jet.