For most of us, homes are little more than a utilitarian part of life. They provide us with a place to sleep, a place to eat, and a place to kick back for a few hours before we have to face the next working day. Sure, we do our best to make our houses feel like homes, but at the end of the day they exist to serve the purpose of providing us shelter and not much else.
There is a class of people, small though this class may be, that isn’t subject to these limitations. They don’t have to work if they don’t want to; in fact, these individuals could maintain their lifestyles almost indefinitely without ever lifting a finger to work again. You probably know who we’re referring to here: billionaires.
While the rest of us slave away putting money in the pockets of the person one rung higher than us on the corporate ladder, this class of individuals has reached the top of that ladder. For them, homes aren’t just a place to take refuge from the elements or rest before another soul crushing day at the office: it’s a place to show off their excessive amounts of wealth.
To the people who build and buy these houses, nothing is more important than status. Nevermind those in need; why would you help others when you could build a monument to your own vanity? Sure, nobody needs a swimming pool bigger than most middle class homes, but that doesn’t matter. If you’ve got billions, your top priority should be making sure everyone else knows you’ve got billions.
The biggest and best
If there’s one thing us mire dwellers love, it’s taking a moment out of our busy schedules to gaze upwards at the shining hill of generational wealth and those that live atop it. Nothing really eases the pain of wage slavery like imagining, if only for a moment, what it would be like to never have to worry about money again.
This isn’t to say that every billionaire benefits from the good fortune of having been born to wealthy parents; some of them made it to the top on their own merit, aided by just the tiniest bit of judiciously executed backstabbing. These are the working class heroes, the paragons of diligence that our employers point to and say “that could be you, if you work hard enough” before assigning unpaid overtime.
But I digress; this is an article examining just how far the ultra rich are willing to go to prove to the world that they are indeed members of this exclusive class. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most fabulously excessive, garish and ultimately pointless displays of material wealth that the ultra rich own. Let’s get started, shall we?
Antilia Tower - Mumbai, India
In a country struggling with issues such as poverty, social division, corruption and political instability, this garish monolith serves to remind the city’s residents just how severe these systemic issues are. Standing a staggering twenty-seven stories tall, this structure dwarfs the surrounding real estate by virtue of its sheer size alone.
Only a few short miles from the slums on Mumbai’s periphery, the fortunate residents of this tower can conveniently escape the noise and smog in the fully serviced sauna or gym at any time they please. If any unforeseen eventualities should occur that threaten the health of the occupants, there’s also a fully functional health center operating on one of the tower’s 27 floors.
As for the tower’s owner, Mukesh Ambani, it seems that he might not be the owner for long. After a slew of poor financial decisions, asset forfeitures and inadvisable investments, Ambani’s net worth has plummeted, forcing him to default on loans and forfeit rights to many of his properties. While skillful maneuvering may allow him to escape these lawsuits and legal troubles unscathed, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to maintain his grasp on his prized Mumbai residence.
Ellison Estate - California, U.S.
If you’ve ever used a Java Application, you’ve benefited from the work of Larry Ellison; or rather, the company he founded, Oracle. After its revolutionary cloud computing data solutions gained widespread popularity, Larry Ellison became one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth upwards of ninety-three billion U.S. dollars.
Of course, a billionaire isn’t really a billionaire without a ludicrously expensive estate. On this front, Ellison cut no corners with the construction of his remote two-hundred-million dollar complex. This place has everything one could possibly want, with an impressive menagerie of outbuildings and amenities.
Nothing was considered “too much” during the planning phase, as is abundantly evident when looking over the list of amenities on this sprawling estate. No expenses were spared to incorporate a koi pond, artificial lake, teahouse and a virtually endless list of other amenities. This one is excessive even for a billionaire!
Xanadu 2.0 - Seattle, U.S.
While many billionaires achieve their wealth through unfair or underhanded means, there’s one notable exception to this norm: Bill Gates. With dozens of philanthropic endeavors that can be attributed to his foundations and initiatives, Bill Gates isn’t your typical money-grubbing billionaire. He may not be perfect, but as ultra-tech magnates go, he’s a pretty decent guy.
Despite his admirable charity work, Bill Gates does spend money on himself. Nowhere is this fact more evident than his Seattle WA estate. With over 66,000 square feet of floor space, this marvel of engineering took 7 years to build, and is currently valued at just over one hundred and forty five million dollars. This isn’t all that expensive as billionaire homes go, but it’s hardly pocket change!
So what kind of luxuries does Bill Gates enjoy while he’s at home on this sprawling estate? The list is virtually endless; with state of the art entertainment systems, an expansive pool and spa, and an ecologically conscious waste and energy management system. It’s still a tremendously decadent property, make no mistake, but efforts were made to set this estate apart.
Waggoner Ranch - Augusta, United States
Not all billionaires spend their money on extravagant homes and luxurious amenities. Some prefer a more rugged, simple way of life when they’re not on the job. One such individual is notorious sports magnate Stan Kroenke, best known for his stake in American and European football teams such as the L.A. Rams, Arsenal F.C. and the Colorado Avalanche.
Despite his staggering $10 billion net worth, Kroenke resides in a relatively humble dwelling on Waggoner Ranch in Colorado. It isn't a hovel by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to the homes of many other billionaires it is rather small. With just over 10,000 square feet of floor space, it’s dwarfed by the homes of his peers.
What is truly staggering about this home has little to do with the actual home itself. What stands out is the size of the tract that it’s on. With over half a million acres of property, this ranch is twice the size of New York City, without the towering skyscrapers of course. Kroenke bought the home for a weighty $325 million. If this seems a bit steep, it’s nothing compared to the nearly $725 million asking price. Talk about expensive!
The homes of the rich and powerful are just as opulent as they are extravagant and excessive. While the likelihood of any of us ever attaining this level of wealth is low, with enough collective effort we can change our flawed system for the better. Income inequality is a huge problem, but the good news is that the problem can be fixed.
Now, just because you can’t afford a ridiculously luxurious home doesn’t mean that you can’t live comfortably. Find a real estate agent in your area and see what’s on the market. With a little searching, you just might be able to find a home that suits your needs and your budget before you know it. You never know what you might find!
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