Ever dream of having a billion dollars so that you’d never have to worry about money again? Well, turns out it’s surprisingly easy to spend that money if you really want to, and fast. On what, you might ask? Well, we traveled around the world to see what we could get for billion dollars.
Let’s start our journey by seeing where most billionaires live.
According to Forbes Magazine, in 2021, there were 2,755 billionaires around the world, so getting a headcount is relatively easy.
The country with the most billionaires is the United States, with 724 billionaires residing on its land, including the most famous – and richest – one; Elon Musk, one-time SNL host and also head of Tesla. At last count, Musk was worth $202.6 billion, though we’re sure that number will change by the time you finish reading this article.
China comes in second with 626 billionaires, the richest of which, Zhong Shanshan, owns a bottled water company.
Third on the list is India with 140 billionaires, while catching up swiftly is Germany with 136 billionaires. Russia rounds out the top five of the list with 117 billionaires, almost half of which we assume actually reside in London instead.
The strange thing is, if you compare the 2020 to 2021 count of billionaires, the number of billionaires in all five of these countries jumped from 1,309 people to a total of 1,743.
That means that while you were learning how to bake bread and instituting a new happy hour starting at 11 AM, 434 people in just these five countries were sitting at home and crossing the billion dollars threshold.
Now, what could those billionaires possibly be spending all that money on?
First off, with that cash you can get a pretty sweet place to live, so any new billionaire’s first shopping spree is real estate around the world.
Could a billion dollars buy you the most expensive house? The most expensive private residence that could theoretically be bought is considered by many experts to be Antilia, a 27-story building on Mumbai, India’s billionaire row. In fact, Antilia cost exactly $1 billion to build back in 2012, so it’s likely your money would fall a bit short of buying it today, as real estate experts estimated the current value to fall anywhere between over $1 billion to $2.6 billion.
However, with a billion dollars you could build a similar home next to it. Or, you could take your money and jet to the south of France and check out Villa Leopolda, the sprawling 80,000 square foot former home of King Leopold II of Belgium, which sits on the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco.
The house’s current estimated value is a whopping $750 million, so you could buy it and still have money left over to refurbish the place. Plus, we assume, hire the 100+ servants needed to run it, as the swimming pool and gardens alone require 50 gardeners to maintain them.
For something a little more modern under the California sun, why not check out “The One” in Los Angeles, California. Perched atop a hill in Bel-Air, the home has nine bedrooms, a 50-seat theater, a bowling alley, a nightclub, and generally enough amenities for a small town. The price? $500 million.
Although the owner has had some trouble selling – we can’t imagine why – which probably means you could knock some tens of millions off that listing price as well.
Maybe you don’t want to be nailed down to a home base.
After all, you have so much money to explore the whole world now! So why not buy a superyacht and take your home around the world?
The 509-foot megayacht “Street of Monaco” costs almost exactly $1 billion dollars. It includes a go-kart circuit, three swimming pools, a helipad, a mini-submarine, and a mini waterfall.
Shockingly, there are two yachts in the world that are actually more expensive than this one – Roman Abramovich’s “Eclipse”, at a value of $1.5 billion, and the “History Supreme”, which comes in at a jaw-dropping $4.8 billion. Even though “History Supreme” is only 100 feet long, it is built from ten thousand kilograms of gold and platinum, which is the reason for the insanely high price.
No word on how seaworthy a platinum-built vessel is, which perhaps makes the “History Supreme” even less appealing.
If you want to zip around the world a bit faster, perhaps invest in a private jet.
Like Saudi Prince Al Waleed’s personal Airbus A380 cost just $500 million dollars, this long-haul commercial airplane was converted to a super lux private jet, which now includes some expected in-flight necessities such as an on-board spa, a personal stadium, a space for the Prince’s Rolls Royces, as well as a stable for his various horses and camels.
With $1 billion, you could not only buy the plane, but also afford to crew it and gas it up for a considerable amount of time as well. Not to mention, you wouldn’t have to worry about any paperwork and extra fees to bring your pet onboard, with a whole stable at your disposal.
After a few living spaces around the world have been acquired, the next question on every billionaire’s mind is: what decor to get?
After all, a super-rich space needs exquisite taste to be decorated properly. In this case, you can’t go wrong with the classics. So why not pick up an original da Vinci, like “Salvator Mundi”, which sold for $450.3 million in November of 2017 at Christie’s in New York?
Oh, that’s right, you won’t find it there anymore because currently, the painting is owned by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.
Painted somewhere between 1490 and 1519 by one of the most famous artists in history, “Salvator Mundi” has been deemed the most expensive painting ever sold. With a billion dollars in their pocket, a buyer could theoretically acquire two of them.
However, since it’s impossible to get two original paintings when only one exists, why not round out your home’s new art collection with the next two most expensive artworks?
That would be Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange”, created in 1955 and currently valued at around $300 million dollars, followed by Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players”, created around 1892-1893 and valued at around $250 million dollars.
So a billion dollars would almost exactly equate to the three most expensive paintings in the world becoming part of your private collection. Except, with no money left over at all after these purchases, you’d be storing them next to your mattress under the bridge.
However, let’s say art isn’t your thing. What if instead of going to art class and being one of the theater kids after school, you were one of the jocks.
What could a sports fan buy for 1 billion dollars?
Well for starters, how about a baseball team? Don’t go looking for the Yankees just yet – yes, they’re still out of your price range – but the Miami Marlins are estimated to be worth around 980 million dollars, putting them right in the billion budget range.
For those uninterested in baseball, why not head over to Europe and pick up a couple of soccer – or rather, football, depending on where you’re watching from – clubs. Spain’s Atletico de Madrid is valued at just around $1 billion dollars, but considering it brings in around $368 million per year in revenue thanks to its devoted fans, the investment might be worth it.
Those who want some money leftover after a soccer team purchase should check out Inter Milan in Italy, valued at $743 million, or Liverpool FC’s big rival Everton, also based in Liverpool, England, valued at $658 million.
Then again, buying flashy art or a whole sports club can bring a lot of unwanted attention onto billionaires.
How about those just seeking to escape and hideaway in a beautiful corner of the world?
Surprisingly, private islands are somewhat less expensive than you might think, especially compared to some of the jaw-droppingly priced items listed so far.
One example is Blue Island in the Bahamas. Lined by sandy beaches and surrounded by stunning turquoise waters, this island looks like a tropical paradise. For VIP owners, the island also includes an airstrip for a private jet, a sprawling main house as well as houses for a significant amount of staff, and four miles of roads.
All this can be bought by any billionaire for just $75 million total!
Another alternative is to just flat out buy one of the Greek islands. Party in Mykonos, watch the sunset in Santorini, and then stop by a real estate office to pick up Omfori Island, valued at $60 million.
On this currently undeveloped island, a billionaire can enjoy the beauty of the Ionian Sea, Greece’s world-famous blue waters, and create another beautiful playground for rich people worldwide to congregate.
Where would you guess the most expensive island money can buy is?
Surprisingly, right back in the old USA. Less surprisingly, perhaps, in the state of Hawaii.
Lanai Island, currently owned by Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison, is worth a whopping $500 million. More specifically, 98% of it is worth that much as 2% is still owned by the state.
The island is 140.5 square miles, with beautiful views of neighboring Maui and Molokai. Lanai is Hawaii’s sixth-largest island, and its north shore is known for Shipwreck Beach, which bears the remains of a WWII tanker.
However, Lanai is not exactly a private island. Lanai Town has a population of around 3,102, as of the last census in 2010, as well as several hotels, small businesses, shops, restaurants, etc. Ellison owns almost all of these commercial properties, including around a third of the residential properties on the island.
So instead of a private island, it’s more like Ellison bought his own tiny country. Which, for a lot of rich people, still might not be enough…
No billionaire discussion is complete without a mention of space travel.
From Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos, it seems the richest men in the world spend most of their days dreaming about the same thing little boys raised in the 60s dreamed of; rocketing out to space! The only difference is, they have enough money to make their whims reality.
In fact, a billion dollars makes space travel a very feasible option, even for an entire family.
For the vacation of a lifetime, a billionaire family of four can pay the astronomical – sorry – price of $55 million a person to fly out and experience an eight-day stay out on the International Space Station, for a grand total of $220 million. There’s a vacation slideshow everyone you know will actually be dying to see.