Confessions of the Professions

What Do Billionaires Spend Their Money On?


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Who wants to be a billionaire? Well, who wouldn’t? There are 1,426 billionaires on the planet with a total net worth of $5.3trillion, more than the combined GDP of 153 countries and their numbers are growing daily. But if you were member of this very elite club - where the cost of a Rolex, a Ferrari, even a private jet, is small change with nothing much beyond your purchasing power - just what would you spend all that money on?

We look at seven very different billionaires and find out just what they do with all their lovely lolly.

A bit of a do…

Founder of Napster Sean Parker ($2.2 billion) redefined the words ‘Big Wedding’ when he spent over $10 million on a quirky Lord of the Rings-style marriage ceremony for sweetheart Alexandra Lenas. The romp included a nine-foot tall cake, live fluffy rabbits to cuddle, fur pelts to sit on and hundreds of guest outfits specially designed by the Lord of the Rings costume designer. The dream ceremony was conducted in a giant Redwood forest in an extraordinary surreal art extravaganza designed to the whim of the mega-rich couple. The wedding was ridiculed afterwards by outraged environmentalists who claimed that the Parkers had damaged the forest site by excavating it for their big day.

A life on the ocean waves…

Roman Abramovich ($14.6 billion) has come a long way since he sold rubber ducks out of his Moscow apartment. These days though, he has more than rubber ducks to play with in the water. When it comes to super yachts, it seems that billionaires just can’t help themselves. Roman’s latest, The Eclipse, cost a reported $1 billion and is the world’s second largest yacht. He’s kept safe by bullet-proof glass, rocket detection systems, and the vessel has two helipads, three launch boats, 11 sumptuous guest cabins, an aquarium, 2 swimming pools (well, you always need plenty of water at sea), there’s even a mini-submarine. This is Roman’s fifth luxury yacht and annual running costs are around £15 million for all his boats. That’s some very expensive bath toys!

There’s no ‘I’ in team…

Malcolm Irving Glazer ($4.5 billion) is an American businessman and sports team collector who owns one of the world’s most famous soccer teams - Manchester United. Along with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayhan ($7 billion - Manchester City), Denis O’Brien ($5 billion - Celtic), and Roman Abramovich ($14.6 billion - Chelsea), he’s just one of a growing number of billionaires who own or part own UK football teams. Glazer snatched ownership of Manchester United in a campaign that ran between 2003 and 2005 in a blaze of bad press and jeers from supporters. Since taking ownership, Glazer - or at least his money - has contributed to the club’s continued success. Glazier also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a NFL team based in Florida.

Living your dreams…

Film director James Cameron ($988 million) is well on the way to his first billion with his movies grossing over $3 billion at the box office. Not content with making movies like Avatar, Titanic and The Terminator, he’s taken his love of adventure and science fiction and invested in Planetary Resources, a company exploring the potential of mining asteroids in outer space. Following his dreams, he also became the first person to reach the earth’s deepest point solo when he descended 11km into the Mariana Trench in the Deepsea Challenger, collecting ocean samples for no better reason than he could. After shooting the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand he fell so in love with the landscape that he bought huge tracts of land in the Hobbit country including a walnut and dairy farm.

A day at the races…

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum ($18 billion) is one of the world’s richest royals, Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, and the constitutional monarch of Dubai. A big horseracing fan, his billions have allowed him to become a major figure in international Thoroughbred racing and breeding and he’s built the greatest horseracing empire the world has ever seen. A regular at Royal Ascot, The Grand National and the Epsom Derby, he’s owner of Darley Stud, the biggest horse breeding operation in the world with farms in the United States, Ireland, England, and Australia. These include Ballysheehan Stud in Ireland, Gainsborough Farm in Kentucky and he’s the leading partner in Godolphin Stables. He hosts the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse and his horses have won most of the world’s great races.

Share the love…

William Henry ‘Bill’ Gates III ($78.5 billion) is the founder and chairman of Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. Currently he’s the richest man in the world. In 1994 Bill sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation and in 2000, Gates and his wife combined three family foundations into one to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the world and in 2007 Bill and Melinda were the second-most generous philanthropists in America. So far they’ve given over $28 billion to charity, have pledged $10 billion over the next 10 years to research, develop and deliver vaccines for the world’s poorest countries, and plan to eventually donate a mega-whopping 95% of their wealth to charity!

No man is an island…

Richard Branson ($5.05 billion) is one of Britain’s richest self-made men. The instantly recognisable silver-haired wheeler-dealer has made a fortune from records, planes, trains, credit cards, gyms, vodka, coke, broadband, even space tourism. The list just goes on and on. One of his most famous purchases is Necker Island, his own private kingdom in the British Virgin Islands. Branson planned on using it as a getaway for pop stars signed to his record label. But after a cheeky offer of £100,000 for the £5m island, he eventually agreed a price with the government of just £175,000 with the proviso that he built a resort on the island within five years. Now that’s a man who knows how to make a deal!


About the Author

John Richmere first started writing about sports as a hobby. However, his work rapidly found an audience on some of the internet’s leading blogs and websites. Today John’s writing mainly focuses on his first love - horseracing.



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