10 Craziest Things That Eccentric Billionaires Have Done With Their Money

One of the biggest perks to being filthy rich is that, no matter how absolutely insane you are, everyone else has to write you off as “eccentric.”

1. Business tycoon Roman Abramovich bought a pimped-out gigayacht

How big is Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich’s personal yacht? Currently ranked as the world’s largest, this super-schooner spans 536 feet, weighs approximately 13,000 in gross tonnage, and cost upwards of $475,000,000. Boasting 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, two helicopter pads, a disco hall, a mini-submarine, a missile defense system, and a laser-based intruder detection system to keep those pesky paparazzo away, the Eclipse is the epitome of oceanic extravagance. We hear that parking’s a pain, though.

2. “Queen Of Mean” Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog

Dubbed the “Queen of Mean” for her ruthless professional reputation, real estate entrepreneur Leona Helmsley lived up to her nickname when she cut most of her family out of her inheritance in favor of one particularly pampered pup: Trouble, a tiny Maltese. Although Trouble was initially meant to inherit $12,000,000, a judge subsequently knocked it down to $2,000,000, which saw the prosperous pooch well through her twilight years. Fun fact: $2,000,000 buys 250,000 bags of Snausages.

3. Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his late wife

One of the more romantic ways to spend a royal fortune, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Taking over 22 years to build and costing roughly 32 million rupees, the Taj remains one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in the Eastern world, and it totally trumps whatever you did for Valentine’s Day.

4. Billionaire Brit Richard Branson started a luxury “space tourism” company

Washington’s Lottery / Via walottery.com

Approachable everyman kazillionaire Sir Richard Branson made waves when he announced Virgin Galactic, the world’s first “space tourism” company, which is currently selling space-bound seats for $200,000 a pop — a paltry sum for prospective Washington’s Lottery winners. Celebrities like Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, and Ashton Kutcher have already booked their reservations — and, honestly, since when is shooting Ashton Kutcher into space a bad thing?

5. Casino owner Stanley Ho spent $330K on white truffles

One of the best parts of being a billionaire is that it pretty much exempts you from ever having to order from the McDonald’s Dollar Menu. We’re guessing that entrepreneur and industrialist Stanley Ho, who spent a combined $660,000 on white truffles — $330,000 on a tuber in 2007 and another $330,000 at a charity auction in 2010 — wouldn’t be caught dead snacking on a carton of deep-fried pink slime.

6. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah flies in a gold-plated plane

One of the world’s richest royals, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has an affinity for gold that could very easily make him an honorary James Bond villain. Not only does he soar the skies in a ludicrously luxurious Boeing 747-400 (complete with solid gold sinks in its private lavatories), the Sultan of Brunei is also said to own a fleet of over 7,000 ultra-expensive cars.

7. Bavaria’s King Ludwig II commissioned Neuschwanstein Castle as his private retreat

Though the Mad King’s reign wasn’t lacking in tragedy, it’s the elaborate castles constructed under his rule that still have people talking over a century later. Most famous of these colossal constructs has to be Neuschwanstein Castle, an extravagant palace designed in large part as an homage to composer (and royal obsession) Richard Wagner. It remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and as far as musical tributes go, it’s a pretty substantial step above Glee.

8. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison owns many, many homes

Bay Area billionaire Larry Ellison has no shortage of grandiose homes to hang his hat at. While he’s the proud owner of several multi-million dollar estates, its the Oracle co-founder’s Woodside, CA manor (estimated at $110,000,000) that really stands out. Modeled with a distinct 16th century Japanese aesthetic, it spans a whopping 8,000 square feet, compete with a 5-acre man-made lake, two bridges, and a duo of serene waterfalls. Good news, though: the estate’s neighboring farm went back on the market late last year! Bad news: it’s $19,000,000, and the cell phone reception is just awful.

9. “Homeless billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen lives out of hotels

And on the flip-side there’s Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire investor and philanthropist that opts to live out of an overnight bag. Noting that he felt “owned by [his] possessions,” Berggruen (reportedly worth $2.2 billion) sold the bulk of his assets in favor of bouncing from hotel suite to hotel suite, presumably surviving off of room service, mini-bars, and complimentary pillow mints.

10. Howard Hughes bought up Las Vegas

Innovator, aviator, and textbook definition of “eccentric billionaire,” Howard Hughes famously set his sights on the Las Vegas strip in the late 1960s with hopes of, well, classing up the joint. Making his home in the historic Desert Inn (local lore has it that, instead of checking out at the end of his reservation, Hughes went and bought the entire hotel), Hughes and his “Morman Mafia” owned an estimated $300,000,000 in Nevada property by the time the billionaire’s Sin City shopping spree was over.

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