9 Mind-Blowingly Dumb Things Billionaires Did With Their Money

9 Insanely Stupid Things Billionaires Did With Their Money, like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
Cheapism; Getty Images Entertainment; Wikimedia; David Ryder/Getty Images

Despite the immense potential billionaires have to make positive changes to the world, many choose to spend their fortunes on wildly extravagant and frivolous pursuits. Though some of the world's richest people have amassed fortunes so large that they couldn't be spent in several lifetimes, much of these funds are squandered on projects to inflate egos or provide fleeting amusement.

From chasing immortality to collecting private islands, here are nine examples of excessive and wild expenses by some of the world's richest elite.

Concept of passing away, the clock breaks down into pieces. Hand holding analog clock with dispersion effect
INDU BACHKHETI/istockphoto

Aspiring to live forever is a common obsession the ultra wealthy seem to share. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, has been known to invest millions of dollars in anti-aging research and cryonics. By partnering with companies like Unity Biotechnology and Alcor, Thiel says he will be "cryogenically preserved" when he dies, and then brought back to life using technology that isn't available yet.

But the desire to "cheat death" is kind of a weird flex, especially given the immediate needs of those suffering from preventable diseases and lack of basic healthcare.

Virgin Galactic

Two of the world's richest men — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla — have poured billions into their space exploration companies: Blue Origin and SpaceX. While these ventures can help advance scientific knowledge and technological innovation, the prioritization of expensive joyrides over pressing earthly concerns perhaps comes across as a bit tone deaf.

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A model of the wrecked Titanic

The tragic incident involving the Titan submersible, which attempted to explore the wreck of the Titanic, underscores the dangers of deep sea exploration. The ill-fated submarine was operated by OceanGate (a private company founded in 2009 by businessman Stockton Rusk), and specialized in crewed submersibles for tourism, industry research, and exploration. Each ticket for the Titanic journey cost $250,000.

Somnio Superyacht
© Winch Design

Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire and oligarch, has been known to spend hundreds of millions on superyachts like the Eclipse and the Solaris. These floating palaces, which require hefty maintenance costs and expenses, are often seen as symbols of excess that the rich love to flaunt. Meanwhile, housing and homelessness crises have reached new heights in many developed countries, including the U.S.

Aerial view of luxury resort in forest surrounded by trees. Hotel with swimming pool.

Purchasing and developing private islands, as seen with Richard Branson’s Necker Island, represents another layer of seclusion and extravagance that the ultra wealthy seem to flock to. But these investments in personal paradises contribute little to the well-being of society while tying up resources that could address environmental conservation or community enhancement in underveloped areas.

Young Basketball Player on Practice Session. Youth Basketball Team Bouncing Balls on Sports Court. Group of Kids Training Basketball Together

Owning sports franchises is another popular hobby among the wealthy and often involves astronomical spending with minimal societal benefit. In 2014, Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, spent $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers. While the investments may boost local economies slightly, the funds could be used to support underfunded schools or healthcare facilities for a much more direct impact.

Young woman appreciating works of art in the museum
Arturo Peña Romano Medina/istockphoto

Lavish spending on rare art pieces is another way the ultra wealthy use to show status and prestige. Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin spent $500 million on rare art pieces, including works by de Kooning and Pollock. While art is culturally significant and can be considered "priceless," the enormous sums spent in this market could instead support creative arts education and projects to make art accessible to all.

$42 million clock paid for by jeff bezos
Courtesy of the Long Now Foundation/Jeff Bezos

The ultra rich are also known to spend tons of money on things that are completely useless. Case in point: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos spent a whopping $42 million to build a clock inside a mountain in Texas that's designed to run for 10,000 years. The point of that? No one knows. Perhaps Bezos could take a page from his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who has donated billions of her fortune to hundreds of charities, educational institutions, and social justice causes.

Portrait of a Royal Bengal Tiger alert and Staring at the Camera. National Animal of Bangladesh

Keeping rare and exotic animals that typically require special care and training is another indulgence that the ultra rich love to flaunt. Though technically just a multimillionaire, Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, has been known to spend millions on rare and exotic animals, including tigers. But the ethical implications and resource drain of such practices raise questions about wildlife conservation and habitat protection. Though we might be hesitant to say so to his face.

This article was originally published on Cheapism

9 Insanely Stupid Things Billionaires Did With Their Money, like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
Cheapism; Getty Images Entertainment; Wikimedia; David Ryder/Getty Images