The excesses of the filthy richDiamond covered Car for Dubai Leader-REAL diamonds.


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

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s private Boeing 747 cast a shadow over the ranks of Gulfstream VIs and Learjets as it taxied along the runway at Dubai International airport and hissed to a halt. The Saudi tycoon had just flown in from his home in Riyadh to enjoy the city’s air show. But Alwaleed was not a spectator. He stepped out and crossed the tarmac to an even larger aircraft, the double-decker Airbus A380. He climbed the three-storey-high steps and, after being shown round, signed on the dotted line to buy one of his own. The price? £150m, plus another £150m to convert the interior to his signature no-embellishment-is-an-embarrassment taste.

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.

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