Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Global 2010: Year's Biggest Luxury Buys

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim HelĂș.Image via Wikipedia
Billionaires spent record sums on a rare gem, truffles and one of the most expensive paintings ever sold.

What's more extravagant than spending $330,000 on two white truffles, the pricey fungi popular with foodies around the world? Spending $330,000 on the mushrooms and then not even eating them. Billionaire Stanley Ho, the casino king of Macau, did just that at a London auction last month. According to a truffle expert, the large, aged Italian specimens Ho bought--"grand champions," in industry parlance--were not the sort you'd want to sprinkle on your risotto. "They're mostly or entirely unusable for culinary concerns," says Britt Bunyard, publisher of Fungi magazine. "They're over-mature, split open, and often have bad or decomposed parts. The truffle connoisseur would pass them over for younger, fresher ones."

Sales of luxury goods this year nearly reached the 2007 peak, at $235 billion, says a Bain consulting study. The ultrarich on Forbes' world billionaire lists did their part, splurging on art, jewelry, horses, even incense burners and truffles. Here are some of their most expensive purchases in 2010.

Steven Cohen
Art: $145.4 million

Mian Muhammad Mansha
Hotel: $85 to $95 million

Kelcy Warren
Ranch: $46.5 million

Laurence Graff
Diamond: $46 million

Carlos Slim
Mansion: $44 million

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