Billionaire Rupert Buys $4.1 Million Buffalo Mystery

Billionaire Johann Rupert, South Africa’s richest person, led a group that bought a Cape Buffalo bull named Mystery for a record 40 million rand ($4.1 million).

“He’s not a mystery anymore,” Andrien White, the marketing manager for Thabo Tholo, a game reserve and animal breeder in Limpopo Province, said in a phone interview. Mystery’s horns span almost 4 1/2 feet and the breed can weigh as much as a metric ton.

“Obviously where he’s going he’s not going to be hunted,” White said. “He’ll be used as a breeding bull.”

Two men bought Mystery on behalf of Rupert and a group of game breeders in the semi-desert Karoo region, Johann Vosser, the managing director for Vleissentraal Bosveld, a South African auctioneer, said by phone. The purchase was the most ever paid for a buffalo, according to an e-mailed statement on the sale. A sable antelope named “Wiele,” which means “wheels” in Afrikaans, was also sold for 11 million rand.

Rupert, born in Johannesburg, is the oldest son of deceased industrialist Anton Rupert, who founded the tobacco company Rembrandt Group in 1948. The Cie. Financiere Richemont SA chairman, who is worth $8.8 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, said on May 16 that he will take a year off, leaving management of the world’s second-biggest luxury-goods company to a team of executives including Cartier’s former CEO.

Great Genes

Derek Light of Graaff Reinet, South Africa-based Derek Light Attorneys, who represents the billionaire and acts as a spokesman, said he couldn’t comment.

Mystery beat a record 26 million rand paid for a buffalo last year, Vosser said. Gnu, oryx and impala were also sold in the auction that brought a total 233 million rand in sales. “People are concentrating more on these exceptional animals to get the genetics,” he said.

Mystery’s horns, which span 53 3/8 inches (135.6 centimeters), and status as disease free are the main factors behind the price of the animal, White said. Many wild buffalo in South Africa carry tuberculosis.

To be able to sell buffalo and move them around in South Africa “they have to be disease-free and there aren’t many of those,” she said.

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