Big Bucks Fear No Evil

by Paul Springer

While economies are faltering and people and governments alike are rattling tin cups all over the world, some people are doing just fine. More than fine, if you take a look at markets for certain pricey products like Ferraris and gigantic mansions.

“If the rich have done well in the past few years, the extremely rich have done extremely well,” according to a Daily Ticker story about a visit to a Ferrari dealership in New York City.

Sales are up. But oddly, at a time when Joe Blow can’t get a mortgage loan to save his soul, more Ferrari buyers – about 40% — are eschewing the all-cash payment for leasing. “The typical customer using financing has annual income of $1.5 million a year and liquid assets of more than $10 million,” the article says.

But Ferraris go for chump change compared to classic vehicles, which routinely go for prices above the million-dollar level.

When this 1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom Torpedo Sports Tourer sells for a $1 million-plus later this month, neighbors of the new owner will garage Ferraris and Lambos in shame – and fear. The bright red “Tiger Car” features a hand-cranked machine gun, always handy to scatter the rabble.

Then again, classic cars go for mere shekels compared to the mansion in the U.S. that Russian gazillionaires are flocking to buy. “International investors are buying some of the priciest homes in America as the broader housing market slumps and a weak dollar makes U.S. property more of a bargain,” Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg says one example is Capital Group Chairman Vladislav Doronin’s $16 million purchase of a shack once owned by Shaquille O’Neal. Such a purchase pales in comparison, however, to venture capitalist Yuri Milner’s acquisition of a $100 million home in Silicon Valley’s Los Altos Hills, Calif., this April.

For those seeking glamorous digs in London, an astronomically costly parcel is being developed by hedge fund Orion Capital Managers. When finished, the one-acre apartment plot will be worth £300 million ($492 million).

Gary Hersham, one of the agents involved, told The London Evening Standard that one family might just gobble up the whole thing.

“”When one is super-rich, £30 million to £40 million is neither here nor there,” Hersham said in the article.

That may be so, but I’d much prefer it were here right next to me where I could have it steamed and pressed for a spending orgy of Neronian proportions.

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