Society - People
By: - at July 8, 2013

10 Billionaires as Wasteful or Fanciful as They are Wealthy

Man with money billionaireWealth and eccentricity don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but it’s always fascinating when they do. While not all billionaires love to squander their fortune (in fact quite the opposite is usually the case) the ones that do, tend to do so extravagantly – investing, donating or just throwing away large sums of money on elaborate pet projects. While some of their indulgences are noble but far-fetched, plenty are just downright absurd, bordering on crazy. Sometimes billionaires can be as wasteful or maybe just wildly fanciful as they are wealthy.

10)  Clive Palmer
Clive Palmer, one of Australia’s richest businessmen, might have made his money through mining but he made his reputation as one of the quirkiest billionaires, with a multitude of bizarre and random money-making and/or attention-seeking schemes.

First there was a planned commercial Zeppelin that ultimately amounted to nothing when he failed to find investors. Then there was his conspiracy theory that everyone from the President of the United States of America to Greenpeace were after him. Now, he’s got his so-called real-life Jurassic Park at his resort in Coolum in Queensland, Australia, where Palmer has installed a number of automatronic, life-size Dinosaurs, with plans to eventually have 165 such replicas in and around the bush-land of the resort’s golf course.

In keeping with Palmer’s theme of investing in things that were monumentally historic failures, Palmer is also in the process of building a replica of the ill-fated Titanic, which will be imaginatively called, Titanic II.

Clive Palmer Titanic 2

Furthermore, following in the often perplexing footsteps of Donald Trump, Palmer is running to be the Australian Prime Minister in late 2013, with the ambition of obtaining even more influence and official power in Australia – presumably so he can show Silvio Berlusconi how a real eccentric billionaire squanders his country’s fortune and runs its political system into the ground.

9)  Tamir Sapir
Georgian-born American businessman, Tamir Sapir lived the classic rags-to-riches life. Like some sort of modern-day fairytale, he went from driving a cab after first arriving in America, to selling fertilizer and oil in the 1980s, before buying his own electronics store and investing the profits in New York real estate, which ultimately led to him becoming a billionaire by 2002. Despite his story-book of tremendous success as a businessman, Sapir’s hobbies are less endearing to the common man.

Tamir Sapir Animal skinsIn 2009, his yacht was raided by U.S. Customs officials and illegal hides of endangered lions, tigers and bears were found, along with other souvenirs of exotic animals, such as stuffed heads, a variety of ivory carvings and a snake-skinned box for cigars. Sapir hadn’t been smuggling the items. They were for his own personal macabre enjoyment. The Customs officials confiscated the items and held Sapir’s boat until the supposedly down-to-earth tycoon paid his $150,000 fine.

8)  Peter Thiel
German-born American entrepreneur Peter Thiel is probably best known for co-founding PayPal. He was also the first outside investor in Facebook. What he’s perhaps less known for is his investment in a number of ambitious endeavors that, though often noble in theory, are at least a tad far-fetched. Such investments relate to human affairs or governmental and/or technological advancements. Often Thiel’s approaches are somewhat radical.

The Machine Intelligence Research Institute is one organization who have benefited from Thiel’s generosity, as he shares their ambition to develop artificial intelligence and explore and expose the inherent positives and negatives of the technology.

Billionaire Peter ThielThiel also donated large portions of his wealth to the not-for-profit organization, the Methuselah Foundation, who study and explore potential means to extending life, specifically through biological science.

Of the various investment and donations Thiel has made over the years, his most ambitious and noble but arguably far-fetched would have to be his association with the Seasteading Institute. The organization’s mission is to develop a variety of floating cities as a massive social experiment. By establishing multiple self-governing cities, the organization aims to test various forms of governance that may inspire national governments around the world to do things differently.

Fittingly, Thiel has also created a fellowship to inspire young people to give up on formal education and follow their dreams, not matter how ambitious or far-fetched they may be. The fellowship involves $100,000 for 20 people under 20.

7)  Meg Whitman

Billionaire Meg Whitman
By Max Morse, via Wikimedia Commons

A successful American business executive, Meg Whitman felt that her achievements within companies such as Hewlett-Packard, The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, Hasbro and eBay qualified her to be the Governor of California. So, in 2010 she decided to run for the position, spending $144 million of her $1.3 billion fortune in the process – only to lose to Jerry Brown.

In total Whitman actually spent about $178.5 million on her campaign when one factors in donations on top of her money spent. On a historical note, Whitman ended up spending more of her own personal wealth than any other self-funded political candidate had ever spent on a single election in American political history.

6)  Elon Musk
The American entrepreneur, Elon Musk, has grand plans for his company SpaceX, which he founded with $100 million of his own fortune. The company currently specializes in the development and the production of space launch vehicles. However, Musk’s ultimate ambition is multi-planetary colonization, which he feels will serve to ensure the survival of the human race.

Billionaire Elon Musk space craft heat shield
 By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA (Flickr: Heat Shield) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Musk is concerned about an asteroid smashing into the planet, or monstrous volcanoes, or a bunch of other risks – many of which are intentionally and inadvertently man-made, such as engineered viruses or unforeseen detrimental technological advances – that the dinosaurs never faced that could easily destroy humanity or the entire planet.

His solution is to expand humanity throughout the universe, starting with the colonization of Mars. Musk aspires to achieve his dream within the next 20 years. To date, the plan is to charge $500,000 for 80,000 individuals to be flown on a one-way trip to the planet and where they will initiate the process of colonizing the planet.

5)  Jeff Bezos
Billionaire Jeff BezosThe world has American entrepreneur, Jeffrey "Jeff" Bezos, to thank for If he achieves his true dreams then the world will also have him to thank for amusement parks, hotels and colonies that will orbit the Earth, with populations of up to 3 million people. This will be achieved through his spaceflight company, Blue Origin.

Ultimately, Bezos wants anybody and everybody to be able to afford to go to space. While Bezos’ ambitions regarding space travel are impressive, if not overly ambitious, his other plans aren’t so impressive – they’re still pretty ambitious, though.

In 2012, Bezos announced plans for a $42 million clock. Really! More specifically it’s “The 10,000 Year Clock”. Basically it’s a 200-foot-tall grandfather-clock-like timepiece. The plan is for it to chime every year, every decade, every century, every millennium and every 10 millennia.

Bezos’ motivation behind the project is to remind humankind of its reliance on technology and the inherent dangers that we as a species can and do face with such faith in technology. The purpose and symbolism of the clock is to remind people to have a long-term view of the future.

4)  Jocelyn Wildenstein
Jocelyn Wildenstein extreme plastic surgeryNew York socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein made her fortune through marriage to billionaire, Alec Wildenstein. Despite the incredible $2.5 billion divorce settlement, Jocelyn is best known for her very, very unique appearance.

Over the course of Jocelyn and Alec’s marriage, Jocelyn had numerous inexplicable cosmetic surgeries. With particular focus on her facial features, Jocelyn aspired to create a feline-like appearance in an inexplicable attempt to retain the attention of her husband, as he loved tigers, lions and the like.

Jocelyn is rumored to have spent $4,000,000 on her surgery. Her ex-husband once said of her obsession with cosmetic surgery that she was crazy – that she thought she could fix her face with extreme alterations, as if it was a piece of furniture. Due to her extreme makeovers, she became known in the tabloid media as the cat lady and rivaled Michael Jackson for extreme and incredibly bad facial surgeries.

Jocelyn was, however, photographed in 2010 after having even more extensive facial surgery performed. While many had believed she had previously mutilated her face beyond repair, she appeared to have largely undone much the original damage inflicted.

Her appearance is now at least more human-like than cat-like.

3)  Henry T. Nicholas
Henry T Nicholas hidden passageway sex cave In 1998, American billionaire Henry T. Nicholas, often known as Nick, made a number of alterations and extensions to his home in Laguna Hills. These renovations included a variety of secret passageways, hidden levers and entrances. There was also a large sports bar that was called “Nick’s Café.”

News of the hideaway and rumors that it was ultimately to be used as a “sex cave” came to light in 2002 when the construction team behind the project alleged that Nicholas hadn’t yet paid them for their work from 1998 to 2002.

While the lawsuit was resolved in 2002 with a confidential settlement, Nicholas’ rumored plans for a “sex cave” were re-affirmed in 2007 when a former assistant of Nicholas' filed a lawsuit, claiming that Nicholas and his various companies owed $150,000 to him in back-pay.

Details emerged that Nicholas had had the interior of the alleged “sex cave” constructed not far from the cave itself in a nearby warehouse. Allegedly, up until his wife busted him with a prostitute, this area became his “personal brothel”. Nicholas has insisted that the caves were built, not for debauchery, but as elaborate rec rooms for his entire family to enjoy.

2)  Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich Chelsea Football Club
By John Dobson, via Wikimedia Commons

Roman Abramovich is a Russian business tycoon. He is known for being the majority owner of investment company, Millhouse LLC. Outside of Russia, he is best known as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, of the English Premier League. His net worth is $14.6 billion. Abramovich bought the Chelsea Football Club in 2003.

While he’d dreamed of winning a UEFA Champions League trophy – the top soccer trophy in Europe – and had been prepared to provide for the club financially, the club initially struggled on and off the field. Desperate to win a championship, Abramovich had over-invested millions in players. Furthermore, his personal investments in the team dwarfed the amount of cash pumped in by other club owners.

Ten years on from his purchase of Chelsea, while he has finally achieved his goal of a UEFA trophy, he has spent over $1 billion in doing so. Abramovoich’s spending doesn’t stop at Chelsea. His super-yacht, Eclipse, is reported have cost him $1.5 billion.

1)  Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei
It seems that every royal family has at least one family member, who REALLY takes their life of privilege for granted and indulges in opulence to an unbelievable degree. For the Brunei Royal Family that said family member is Prince Jefri Bolkiah.

Serving from 1986 to 1998, as the finance minister and chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), Jefri didn’t do his family or his country any favors with his money management. After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, accountants audited the books of BIA, resulting in allegations Jefri had embezzled $14.8 billion. In 2000, Jefri was forced to relinquish all his personal holdings over to the government to avoid criminal prosecution and keep a residence in Brunei.

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei
Photo Courtesy of Vanity Fair

Known as “the playboy prince,” Jefri had always lived an extravagant and wild lifestyle. His indulgences had ranged from massive car and art collections. He had also owned the British jeweler Asprey, along with a number of luxury hotels throughout the world.

His misogyny and debauchery were notorious, too. Jefri frequently conducted expensive gambling nights, complete with prostitutes on standby at a nearby hotel. Furthermore, in 1998, Jefri was sued by a former Miss USA, who claimed the prince had lured her to Brunei in order for her to become a sex slave. The case was dropped purely due to Jefri’s diplomatic immunity. That same year, Jefri bought a $500 million yacht that he named derogatorily after female breasts, with two of its lifeboats named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2.





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