But when they aren’t building companies, saving the world or exploiting the working class — whatever they’re into — some billionaires seem to have a lot more fun than others do.
If you saw the “The Social Network,” you know that Facebook billionaire Sean Parker (what’s his net worth?) isn’t a stay-at-home kind of guy. But the media is having fun right now reporting the details of his upcoming $10 million nuptials. Parker will get married in June (to whom?) in a ceremony featuring faux ruins, a stone dance floor and custom costumes for the guests. It’s a far cry from the much more modest wedding of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2012, but not close to the costliest wedding ever. (We’ll get to that.)
Click ahead for a look at some of the very rich whose extravagances and celebrations seem particularly over the top.
And no, we’re not passing judgment. Many of these people also create jobs and give a lot of time and money to charity. In fact, finding time for wild fun while accomplishing so much might be considered admirable, or at least better than sitting on a pile of coins like Scrooge McDuck.
The founder of the Virgin empire, with airlines, resorts and space ventures, would make any list of the most fun billionaires. But Richard Branson’s (what’s his net worth?) most adventurous outing may have been a 2009 photo shoot on his private island, which included kitesurfing with a naked supermodel. Her boyfriend and his wife were watching, according to various reports, so no hanky panky, just an everyday romp for a guy with lots of fun money.
More than a few billionaires, including Branson and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, are involved in companies trying to put people into space. But most of them haven’t actually visited the final frontier. In fact, the first really rich guy to fly as a space passenger was a mere multimillionaire: Dennis Tito, in 2001. The first billionaire in space was Charles Simonyi, a software engineer hired by Bill Gates in the early days at Microsoft. Simonyi no longer appears on Forbes’ billionaire list, but he was a billionaire at the time of his 2007 trip to space — and his second trip in 2009.
The title of “owner of the world’s biggest yacht” has been in contention for years, and it was held until recently by Roman Abramovich, the Russian industrial billionaire. That was eclipsed recently by the launch of the Azzam; there’s no official word on who owns it, though there is speculation.
The hitch is, a lot of big yachts look pretty similar. So the ultimate boater’s dream may be the one built by the flamboyant venture capitalist Tom Perkins (what’s his net worth?). Luxurious inside and out, the S/Y Maltese Falcon advanced the state of the sailing art. Consider this description from Wired magazine: “When Darth Vader builds his own intergalactic yacht, it will look like this.”
Now in his 80s, Perkins sold the yacht a few years ago. It’s available online for charter.
His brothers are best known as big backers of conservative politicians, but Bill Koch (what’s his net worth?) seems to be the one having the most fun. He’s building a town of some 50 buildings to house his collection of Wild West memorabilia, complete with saloon, stables and more. The chairman of the Gunnison County, Colo., Planning Commission told the Denver Post: “It’s the kind of stuff I guess you would expect a billionaire to construct. It’s like something out of a ‘Gunsmoke’ movie set.
Some splurges are much more spontaneous. According to an oft-cited New York Post report, on a July night in 2010, two billionaires — Malaysian Zhen Low and New York real estate tycoon Winston Fisher — squared off at the Les Caves du Roy nightclub (where is it?) to see who could order (and presumably down) the most bottles of Champagne.
The founder of the private equity shop TPG apparently loves rock ‘n’ roll, and we’re not talking about putting dimes in the jukebox, baby. For his 60th birthday, David Bonderman treated friends to a Rolling Stones concert at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas; David Bonderman was the opening act
For all the fun planned for Sean Parker’s wedding, it’s not nearly the most expensive billionaire wedding ever.Guinness World Records gives that title to the 1981 seven-day wedding celebration — in a stadium built for the occasion — of a United Arab Emirates leader. (Who got married?) In today’s dollars, according to Forbesand others, the cost was more than $100 million.
In 2011, Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani (his net worth?) and his wife, Nita, moved into their newly built home. With 27 stories, many of them double- and triple-height, Antilla stretches high into the sky over Mumbai. The price tag? A cool billion
Sometimes billionaires can have fun without spending a dime. Late last year, Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin (net worth?) got to enjoy a multiday birthday bash thrown for him in Jodhpur, India, by his girlfriend. Of course, it helps that she’s a supermodel and no financial slouch herself.
When we discuss Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ (net worth?) ultimate timekeeping device, we’re not talking about a simple Patek Philippe. In a cave in a desert, he’s building a 10,000-year clock, designed to run on as nations rise and fall. While it may not sound like a lot of laughs, it is a lasting legacy.
The founder of Broadcast.com, Mark Cuban (net worth?) famously bought a $40 million jet online. But the most fun pastime of his could be owning a sports team (which one?) and watching it win the NBA championship (when?). He paid for the victory parade and the Champagne.
It’s no secret what Oracle founder and one of the richest men in the world Larry Ellison (net worth?) loves to do in his down time. His storied pursuit of the America’s Cup yachting crown cost him a fortune (or at least, a fortune for most people). He also plays tennis most days of the week — so in 2009, he bought a tennis tournament and stadium.
The outspoken founder of Chick-fil-A, like any billionaire, can drive any car he wants. But in Truett Cathy’s (net worth?) garage is one that only a handful of people can own: a Batmobile, specifically an Anton Furst Batmobile from Tim Burton‘s “Batman” films. Considering that the world’s most expensive cars run into the millions, he got this cool ride for very little cash.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (what’s his net worth?) devotes a lot of money to world-saving causes, but he also has a ton of fun ventures. He owns a football team, a basketball team and a pro soccer team. He founded a rock ‘n’ roll museum, a science fiction museum and an aircraft museum. Oh, and there’s this: He plays in a rock band and has jammed on Johnny Cash songs with Usher. We half expect to see him on “The Voice” next season.
Philip Green, known as Britain’s king of retail, went all out for his son’s 2005 bar mitzvah in France, which featured a synagogue built for the occasion. Entertainment for the day? Beyoncé’s old band.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich holds an annual New Year’s Eve party on St. Bart’s that’s often called the holiday’s most prestigious event. The guest list of roughly 400 features innumerable A-listers, and entertainment has included Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé, the Black Eyed Peas and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The annual tab reportedly tops $7 million.
Another Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov, has his fun in the U.S. A recent Forbes profile described his preferred New York digs — a $35,000 suite at the Four Seasons — on a trip to see the team he bought with folks such as rapper Jay-Z (which team?). He’s known as a savvy businessman and also a playboy, which has gotten him into trouble.
Speculation on potential buyers included Tom Cruise, but it was a billionaire art patron who picked up a version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” at auction about a year ago, for a record price. New York financierLeon Black, who founded Apollo Management, apparently has diverse tastes; his firm also recently bought the rights to a popular snack cake.