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Where’s the super-rich without their personal transportation? Many ultra-wealthy citizens prefer to drive or be driven to their destinations in a low-key fashion, choosing to avoid recognition or to attract attention.
The late Sam Walton, owner of the Wal-Mart chain, was known for his love of nondescript, blue collar cars such as old Ford pickup trucks. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was once known for driving old station wagons and older model Lincolns.
The truly opulent, however, love to flaunt, and they love to enjoy it. Love the speed? Don’t care what the heck it costs? Then look no further than the hybrid Ferrari LaFerrari that has two engines, a 6.3-liter 789hp V-12 and an additional 165hp electric motor which in combination can propel this ostentatious display of wealth at an estimated top speed of 230Mph.
Is the Ferrari too pedestrian? Too ghetto? Too green, even? Then by all means, have a look at the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, the Top Gear poster child for ultimate speed and ultimate price. This 16-cylinder, 8.0 Liter, quad turbocharged 1200 horsepower untamed animal of a sports car is capable of achieving a mind-blowing 267Mph.
There’s a catch though — you can only achieve that speed on Volkswagen’s official test track, who’ll provide you with a special key for unlocking that extra horsepower when you come to visit. But if you’re super-rich, you can probably afford to build your own 20-mile racetrack to max the car out on, and it won’t bother you that the car itself is a mere $2,700,000.
Maybe the Bugatti isn't dangerous enough. Perhaps a car is just too… cramped. You crave danger, excitement, the open air, and want to walk away from your vehicle with messy underwear. No problem, what you want is a motorcycle. But not just any motorcycle.
For those super-rich that also possess a death wish, you want a Marine Turbine Technologies Superbike — which is powered by a gas turbine, kerosene-fueled jet engine. With a top speed of 227 miles per hour, it’s the fastest motorcycle in the entire world, and every single one is hand-built and unique.
At $150,000 it’s also one of the most expensive motorcycles in existence as well, claiming such gearhead celebs as Jay Leno as customers, who has been quoted as saying that riding the bike was like having the “Hand of God” pushing him.
But any billionaire can spend half a million dollars or more on an exotic sports car. And guess what? You still have to put a license plate on it. People will still know if it's your car. So much for privacy, right?
The late Steve Jobs, worth a cool 8 billion or so when he passed away in October of 2011, was particularly fond of the Mercedes-Benz AMG variant of the R230 SL series in the classic metallic silver paint job.
Compared to the other vehicles listed above, at around $150,000-$190,000, the AMG SL is certainly very expensive, but not in the ludicrous range. For a billionaire Jobs had very conservative tastes.
But Jobs didn't like putting license plates on his car. In fact, he drove his AMG SL without one for close to a decade. In just about everywhere else in the world, the idea of being a scofflaw like that is preposterous. But it turns out in California, you really can get away with that.
You see, for many years, Jobs had an arrangement with a California auto leasing company that agreed to lease him nearly the same exact model silver Mercedes sports car and allow him to turn it in every six months for a brand new one. Apparently, in California, you have up to six months to put plates on your car after registering it.
True opulence isn't buying an expensive car. It's driving one without any plates and replacing it every six months, apparently.
Opulent Air Travel
There are many ultra-wealthy people who fly commercial, in First Class. But you’re opulent, remember?
The benchmark state-of-the-art luxury private jet is the Gulfstream g650. With a huge, spacious cabin, the g650 has every single amenity that you can think of and get you there in style. Each aircraft is built to custom specifications, and has a maximum fueled range of 7,000 miles.
The g650 is also the fastest private jet that you can currently buy, with a maximum speed of just under the speed of sound. You’ll be able to fly with 8 of your closest family and friends, provided you employ 4 crew members as well. That really shouldn’t concern you since the plane itself is a cool $58-$65 million.
But maybe flying just under supersonic isn’t fast enough. You want to get there faster. There aren’t any vintage Concordes on the market (yet) for refurbishing, but you can have the next best thing — a private Supersonic Business Jet.
Well, get in line. You’ll have to call Aerion Corporation, which is taking orders for its Mach 1.6-capable private jet with near-supersonic long range supercruise capability. Its got all the luxury goodies of the g650, but the needle-shaped plane is a bit more cramped. You won’t care, because you’ll be able to get from Chicago Midway to London Heathrow in just under six hours.
Of course, the plane won’t be delivered to its first customer until around 2014 or 2016, and it will set you back about $80 million not including staff and operating expenses and support infrastructure, but hey, you’re opulent, right?
If you want to buy a supersonic aircraft NOW, you’ll need to seek out the countries of the former Soviet Union. During a credit crunch, from time to time they’ve been known to unload vintage MiG-21 and modern Su-27 Mach 2-capable fighter aircraft from anywhere between $5 and $15 million each.
That’s a bargain, when you consider the price of the luxury jets above. Of course, you’ll have to fly it yourself, you’ll need to make probably two to three in-air fuel stops to fly any serious distance, and they burn anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of fuel an hour, but that’s peanuts, right? You has OPULENCE.
Well it turns out none of these are nearly expensive enough to take the top spot on this list. In 2009, Prince AlWaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud commissioned the French Airbus company to build him a personal A380 jumbo airliner, for a whopping 400 million dollars.
The airframe was eventually sold before the prince took delivery and all the amenites were fitted, but still...
Why in the name of Allah would you ever need an aircraft this big or expensive?
Had it been actually built, this three floor sultan of the skies with a staircase and an elevator would have had its very own a concert hall, a spa with Turkish bath, a garage, twenty first class seats, four large deluxe sleeping quarters, a room with a transparent floor for viewing the earth below, and a holographic briefing room as well as its own private "Air-mosque" that used virtual prayer mats that always point towards Mecca.
Okay, now that's opulence.
Opulent aircraft will get you to where you want to go, but no self-respecting Bond Villain or ultra-rich person would be without a yacht. But not just any yacht, you want something massive, imposing, a home away from home on the water. Comfy, and yet terrifying to anyone who gets in your way. You want to rule the seas.
There are plenty of standard multi-million-dollar yachts that you can buy. Even ones that cost tens of millions. But I’m not talking about that kind of boat, I’m talking about the type of yacht that would make Emilio Largo get an inferiority complex.
Back in the 1980’s, big, disgustingly expensive yacht meant Khashoggi-style. In those days, his 281-foot yacht set records for opulence (and was actually used as a Bond Villain boat in the re-make of Thunderball) but from there they just got bigger. They eventually passed the 350-foot mark, and then 400, and finally 500.
Not do be outdone by the sheiks, In 2009 Russian billionaire and oil magnate Roman Abramovich launched the Blohm & Voss-built Eclipse, his 557-foot megayacht (his biggest of three huge boats) equipped with helipad, bullet-proof and armor-plated windows, a German-designed missile defense system and even a “laser-powered anti-paparazzi shield” which can scramble any camera or electronic equipment from a distance.
Would you believe he had a pool of sharks with frickkin’ lasers installed in it as well? Probably not, but we do know that the estimated $400M-$800M plus behemoth of the sea has its own miniature submarine.
And apparently, there's even a bigger boat than the Eclipse on the water, the Azzam. And it's so expensive that nobody even knows who owns it yet. Only that it was commissioned by an "undisclosed Middle Eastern Billionaire."
But Abramovich's ship, and the Azzam, while impressive, just aren't, I dunno, bat-guano crazy enough. They don't pass the Super Bond Villain test.
To pass the Super Bond Villain test for extreme opulence, you'll want to engage the folks over at Yacht Island Design, which will build you such floating displays of ostentatious and disgusting wealth that even the people who brought you the Las Vegas strip might even tell you to tone it down.
Yacht Island Design's most current project is The Streets of Monaco, a 1 billion dollar plus floating micro-representation of the tiny Mediterranean principality complete with scaled down versions of the Monte Carlo Casino, the Hotel de Paris, and even the Grand Prix racing course, complete with go-carts on the deck of this 500-foot floating freak show.
Okay, I admit, I'm really digging the Utopia. And I bet you can get it equipped with a sharks with frikkin' lasers pool, if you throw them enough cash.