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Money Matters: How to spend it

While you worry about rent, cashback, discounts, hidden surcharges and inflation, we show you how some of the world’s richest people spend their spare millions

brunch Updated: Dec 10, 2012 17:23 IST
Sharanya S

Let’s put our budgets aside and daydream for a bit. What would you do if you were truly, madly, ridiculously rich? Would you build a mansions? Please, Celine Dion has one with a private water park. Would you buy that crocodile skin hand-dyed, gold rivet handbag you’ve only seen in magazines? Amateur. Victoria Beckham has Hermes’s bags worth 2 million dollars. Would you get your pug some diamond teeth? Bah. Some rich sod’s already beat you to it. Get a private golf course or a personal zoo? Pooh. Think bigger. Take cues from what the wealthiest people have been doing with their cash

National treasures
Sure, the king of good times has fallen on hard times recently. But Kingfisher’s Vijay Mallya is the man who once bid Rs 4 crore for the sword of Tipu Sultan and to bring it back to India. He’s the one who paid up Rs 9.3 crore to buy Mahatma Gandhi’s personal items (including his glasses, sandals, pocket watch, plate and a bowl) to ensure that the objects belonging to the father of the nation would be brought back to India. Now, when you hear that he owns 200 classic cars, it’s probably easier to stomach.

The Batmobile
There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind that watch a Batman movie and wish they had a Batmobile, and the kind who watch a Batman movie, go out and buy one. Truett Cathy, the founder of the American fast food chain Chick-fil-a (a man whose personal wealth stands at $2 billion), spent some of his spare pennies on Michael Keaton’s wheels from Batman Returns for $ 2,50,000. Money can’t buy you everything though – that car only flies in the movies. Not in real life.

Movie memorabilia
Steven Spielberg, the man whose movies have grossed the $ 100-million mark, isn’t short of a buck. But you know what? He’s just like you. He likes movie collectibles. Not superhero toys or HappyMeal freebies, though. In 1982, the director spent 60,500 dollars on Rosebud, the only surviving sled of three that were made for the climax of Orson Welles’ epic movie, Citizen Kane. The balsa sled was sold at a Sotheby’s auction and is the most prized of cinema collectibles. Imagine the boasting rights!

Strange art
Steven Cohen, hedge fund manager and founder of SAC Capital Advisors has an art collection that boasts of Warhols and Picassos. But that’s literally small fry when you realize that he also bought Damien Hirst’s work, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. This particular piece of art is essentially a 14-foot shark suspended in formaldehyde. He only spent $8 million on it, but here’s the unfortunate thing about shark carcasses: they decay. So, Cohen’s throwing away even more money; tens of thousands of dollars to replace the fish and repair the installation. Honestly, a Monet would have been less trouble.

A private island
Real estate is always an investment. And no one knows that better than Richard Branson. Branson, like a true businessman, negotiated his way into buying his own private island, Necker Island. When he first saw it at age 38, he made a low bid (a measly 100,000 pounds) and was turned down. A while later, when the owner of the island was in desperate need for cash, Branson upped his offer to 175, 000 pounds and finally ended up paying just 5,000 pounds more. He then spent approximately 10 million dollars to turn it into a private retreat. The little plot of land is now worth close to 60 million dollars.

A whole city
Roman Abramovich who? The Russian businessman owns the world’s biggest private yacht, the $250-million Eclipse. He spends $2 million every just on his 40 security guards. He also owns this little football team called Chelsea, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Yes, that guy. Abramovich’s biggest recent spend has been his plan to build a complex on Russia’s crumbling New Holland island. By 2017 the island will have offices, homes, a hotel, restaurants, museums and art galleries. He plans to run the place for seven years and giving over the communications, connecting bridges and exhibition zones to the city. And how much will it cost to create a new New Holland? $400 million.

Jets and boats
Mukesh Ambani could have given Nita the world on her 44th birthday in 2008. Instead he just got her a Rs 250-crore Airbus in which she could jet-set around the world. The craft, has an office, satellite TV, internet connectivity, a master bedroom and bathroom and lots of frills. Brother Anil, on the other hand spent just a bit more on his wife Tina. He bought her a super luxury yacht for wife Tina. The vessel is 34-metres long and has five cabins and six bathrooms. It cost Rs 400 crore.

Dinosaur remains
When it comes to spending big, Nicolas Cage is a category unto himself. He has (in addition to jets, yachts, islands and mansions), a real dinosaur skull. In a bidding war with Leonardo Dicaprio (who honestly seemed like less of a loon before), Cage spent $2,76,000 on the 67-million-year old Tarbosaurus skull. Of course, this was then when he could get away with it, before his tax troubles and before he had to sell his comic books to make money. There is no doubt that this is a crazy move, still it must be grand to have money to spend on a dinosaur skull.

One big party
Paris Hilton, not known for her thrifty tastes, outdid herself on her 21st birthday. She didn’t just throw a great party, she threw a series of them in five different cities: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo and London. She flew her guests to each of these destinations and her father, Mr. Hilton (who runs the hotel empire) spent $ 75,000 per guest. She skipped Paris, which really seems like a wasted opportunity.

A haircut
Rihanna, a woman whose hairstyles no one can recall from memory, spends 3,300 dollars a day so hairstylist Ursula Stephen can accompany her on her travels. It’s probably occurred to Rihanna that paying Ursula 90,000 dollars a month might be a bit much; but think about it. If the songstress has a bad hair day, it’s not like she can hide an umbrella, ella, ella.

From HT Brunch, December 9

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