Rich folks are cut from a different cloth. There is no other way to wrap your head around splashing $295,000 on a car, even if it's a Rolls. But it's a drop in the bucket for them. How they spend the money is a fascinating study in human behavior.
With some of them, it's almost as if they don't know what to do with the money. In some cases, they seem to take their inspiration from the last movie they saw.
In 2013, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer was given the go-ahead to build the world's biggest dinosaur park. With a net worth of about $800 million (at the time), he planned to "build" 160 robotic replicas on the grounds of his Palmer Coolum Resort. He also had plans to build a real full-scale replica of the Titanic, dubbed the Titanic II.
But not all rich folks do stuff like this.
In 1994, Bill Gates bought Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, the Codex Leicester, for $30.8 million. While some billionaires would frame it and hide deep in their lair, Gates had its pages digitized and gave it away with Windows 95.
Most of the super wealthy will do what they can to stay filthy rich. Anything that gets in their way simply gets bought off. Here are nine things only the top one percent can get away with.
9 Wield Big Influence
Faced with an obstacle, they don't waste time looking for who to bribe. They simply introduce themselves, state their interest in the matter, make an offer and walk away with the prize.
Think that's an exaggerating?
Take the issue of gun control. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings, the U.S Senate moved to pass a number of laws that were supposed to address gun ownership. But in April 2013, many senators voted against the proposed laws. Their reticence was blamed on lobbying by rich pro-gun associations. It later emerged that 42 of the 45 senators expected to pass the laws had received sizable donations from pro-shooting groups. No blatant bribes here, just an example of lobbying at its finest.
Lobbying to get what they want isn't just found in politics; they extend this to education too. The children of the one percent are automatically placed in schools most kids can only dream about. All it takes is a sizable donation and one phone call.
After the Sony Pictures hack and leak, the world saw the exchange between top exec Mike Lynton and Brown University. Lets just say, a $1M endowment scholarship was all that it took to get his daughter in. Got a spare million?
8 Villain-esque Projects
The one-percent will spend their money on whatever they feel like. We've seen Clive Palmer's "Jurassic Park", the Aventadors and beach front mansions. But these are all physical, tangible purchases.
Some billionaires like to dream bigger.
Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov is an ardent supporter of transhumanism, and he is putting his money where his mouth is. In 2011, he launched the 2045 Initiative, to pursue "cybernetic immortality."
Some of his short term goals include the creation of an avatar controlled by a brain-to-computer interface and creating an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot. Itskov hopes to achieve these and more over the next three decades.
With a net worth of over $1.2 billion, he's off to a good start.
7 Taxes? What Taxes?
No lie, many people are reluctant to cut the tax man a fat check every April, but to avoid jail, you have to. The one percent? Not so much; they can do it and get away with it. It's not that they don't pay ANY tax, they are just very selective about which taxes they pay and how little of it they pay.
By using very creative accounting techniques, funneling their income into shell corporations and transferring it offshore, they manage to avoid quite a lot. Official figures peg revenue lost at $70 billion per year, but analysts say the real figure is much higher.
During the 2012 Presidential election, it emerged that even one Presidential candidate had used a number of these techniques to avoid paying taxes.
6 Trophy Hunting
The story of Cecil the lion getting killed in Zimbabwe was all over the news a few weeks ago. The funny thing is that big game hunting is nothing new; the super-rich have been doing it for years without anyone batting an eyelid.
So why the hue and cry now? One percenters (or their kids) like Eric and Donald Trump Jr have hunted and been photographed with carcasses of big game. In May, a Texan oil heir, Corey Knowlton, paid $350,000 for a permit to kill a rhino. Except this was only one of the 5,000 black rhinos left in the world. Social media campaigns and the backlash ensued, but did this heir care?
Nope. He's a one percenter.
Many of them justify hunting by claiming the money paid goes towards conservation and preserving the remaining animals.
5 Super Survivalists
These days, more and more people are buying into the prepper/survivalist lifestyle. With the events of 9/11 and all those shows on Netflix, it's enough to make anyone want to build a bug-out-bag.
The one percenters do things a little differently. Paranoid that they'll probably be targeted first, they go to great lengths to fortify their homes. Companies have started to cash in on their fear by building exclusive prepper apartments.
Outside Kansas, there is an abandoned nuclear missile silo lined with 8 floors of condos packed with every modern facility you'd need. Buried 174 feet underground, the preppers are safe from everything from solar flares to economic collapse to pandemics. $3 million will get you a Full-Floor Condo Suite, including 1820 sq. ft. of living space, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen etc.
And for the rich who can't be bothered to move, companies like Hardened Structures will fortify their mansions. These guys do everything from building bespoke bomb shelters to fitting ballistic protection that will can machine gun fire all around the home. On request, they can help with "special projects."
Before you start dreaming of using them, just remember that a recent bunker installation cost the owner $90 million.
4 Private Islands
While it may have perks like being easily defended, super private and having an insane view, they certainly don't come cheap. Starting at around $ 400,000, it's obviously something only the top echelon can afford.
While you're still pondering that initial cost, spare a thought for the Abu Dhabi royal who in addition to constructing multiple islands, decided to tag one of them. Painting is for plebs, so Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan of the Abu Dhabi royal family had his named carved in two-mile high letters on an island in Dubai. The tag is so large that it can be seen from space, which is what the Sheikh wanted to do.
3 Destroying the Environment
When not buying islands and tagging them, the super wealthy play checkers with the environment. Many of their companies across the world have been implicated in massive pollution scandals, but they always buy their way out.
With all the revenue generated, you'd think they'll clean up after themselves, but they don't. One would also expect the government to force them to do something when they mess up, but you've seen the power of lobbying.
Right here in the USA, Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the USA, is run by Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch. Just to show you the extent of their power, they've been at the forefront of a campaign to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer. For years, they also tried to keep formaldehyde OFF the list of known carcinogens.
Why? Well, one of their companies, Georgia-Pacific, is one of the largest manufacturers of formaldehyde in America.
Good thing the FDA finally added it in 2011.
2 Destroying the Art Market for the Rest of Us
Having more money doesn't make you refined or cultured, but good luck explaining that to many one percenters. To many of them, the more expensive a piece of art is, the better it must be, but that's far from true.
Thanks to them, in the decade up to 2011, sales of art outpaced the S&P 500 Index. Maybe this is why the one percent consider art to be an investment. In 2014 alone, global art sales increased to $66 billion.
These guys are willing to pay double - even triple - digit millions for art. Before you blame it on the "uncultured American", note that the Chinese and the English also make up large segments of this market. Now, it's not as if most regular people wanted to buy the paintings, anyway. It's just that these folks will snap up the pieces, hoard them and flip for even higher prices in a year or two.
The only goal is just to make more money.
1 Get Out of Jail Free
When it's all said and done, you could look at this laundry list of "crimes" and wonder why they are still free to commit them. Welcome to the real world, friend.
On one hand, the super rich are skilled at giving the rest of us the slip. They essentially get away with the loot and leave us holding the bag. Take the economic crisis, caused by banks and their reckless lending to... the one percent.
Who had to deal with increased lending rates? Who had to remortgage properties? Us.
And on the other hand, by using their super expensive legal defense teams, they get away with more in-your-face crimes too. One example was the case of Ethan Couch.
In 2013, the drunk 16-year-old crashed his car into a bunch of people, killing four and seriously injuring two. Did he get 20 years like 16-year old Jaime Arrellano who killed two people? Or Tyler James Poor who killed one person while also under the influence?
Nope. Couch got a 10 year probation.
The legal team hired by his millionaire parents simply used the Affluenza defense, which basically concluded that the boy was too rich to know the difference between right and wrong.
This judgment raises so many questions. With the one percent already getting away with corporate crimes, are their children going to be allowed to do the same to our children?