There are 1,200 multi-billionaires in the world and, as the rest of us tighten our belts, they’re desperate to splash out. Personal jumbo jets, nine-storey giga-yachts, football clubs, icons of contemporary art, museums in the desert — these are just some of their recent trophy purchases. A report on the big super-spenders
Dropping £300m in a few minutes is, by any standards, an exotically exorbitant demonstration of immense personal disposable wealth. The sky-high price tag is more than 10,000 times the annual household income of an “average” British family. Such extravagance used to be limited to emperors and the odd kleptocrat, but a new class – the super-affluent – is emerging. They are unaffected by the credit crunch, which they loftily dismiss as “some new breakfast cereal”.While most of us are tightening our belts, they are planning to increase spending, taking advantage of the falling price of everything from property to private jets. About 80% of those worth £50m or more plan to spend more this year, according to a survey by the US-based wealth analysts Prince & Associates.
Take Alwaleed. The small fortune he dropped on the Airbus is, it turns out, pocket change. The 53-year-old recently bought the Savoy hotel in London for £250m and is spending a further £100m giving the grande dame of the Thames the kind of makeover that would make Demi Moore blush. He is also doing up his other favourite five-star bolt holes, the George V in Paris and the Plaza in New York. But there’s no place like home. His £500m palace in Riyadh is constantly being remodelled and enlarged.