Just in time for Easter, let’s take a look at the real estate value of the Vatican. Realtors have given us ballpark estimates like $15 billion.
However, that figure barely scratches the surface when you consider how much of the interior architecture is actual gold and priceless Renaissance paintings. Add in sculptures, historical archives and artifacts and it becomes even harder to quantify.
All told, the property in Rome spans 110 acres and includes nine buildings occupying less than half of the land, making the term Vatican City most apt. The compound includes the Pope’s dwelling and facilities for some 920 clergy associates. Some of the facilities include sanctuaries for worship and public galleries connected with maze-like halls.
Is It Even Possible to Assess the Real Estate Value of the Vatican?
The challenges in ascribing a valuation to the Vatican’s real estate includes some of the same factors that make it difficult to value privately-held companies: There’s no obligation to publicly disclose financial details.
Although the entity that runs the Vatican, the Holy See, has made a few disclosures about its finances in recent decades, for the most part the details about the Italian operation remain largely shrouded.
Funding for the Holy See’s operating budget comes from real estate investments (these include church properties literally around the globe), the admission charged for entry into the museum, fees for ceremonies and publications, according to Fortune.
Italian Real Estate Market
One of the most reliable ways that realtors use to determine the value of properties that aren’t for sale involves looking at the going rates for comparables that have recently sold. Of course, it’s hard to find anything truly comparable to the Vatican within Rome, so just looking at the average price per square foot of Rome’s real estate would also fall short of the mark.
However, the average price per square foot in Rome, Italy is $362 as of this writing — and that figure comes from includes converting meters to feet and euros to dollars. Then you have to multiply that rate by the sizes of the different buildings within Vatican City to arrive at a figure.
Of course, the figures come out short of the properties’ true value — and leave out the value of the land itself — but here’s a start (props to Aman Daro, vice president of marketing T3 Sixty, an Orange County-based real estate management consulting firm, for some of the math):
- St. Peter’s Basilica spans 240,000 square feet, which multiplies out to nearly $87 million
- The Sistine Chapel covers at least 12,000 square feet, which multiplies out to $434,000 (which seems egregiously low given that the ceilings are covered with Michaelangelo’s painting)
- The Vatican Museums covers 86,000 square feet, which multiples out to over $31 million
- The Apostolic Palace spans 1,743,753 square feet that includes the papal apartments and administrative offices, multiplying out to over $631 million<
These figures fall short of capturing the true value of the properties. Perhaps the most realistic assessment of the real estate value of the Vatican is that it is simply priceless.
Readers, have you visited the Vatican and if so what’s your opinion about its real estate value?
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