What to Get a Billionaire for Christmas
Need to find a present for a person who can buy themselves anything? Have we got a gift guide for you.
At Bloomberg Pursuits, we've spent the past year covering the most exotic travel experiences, the rarest foods and drinks, the finest clothes, and the most extreme luxury trends. The following gift ideas are truly the cream of the crop; the most over-the-top products and experiences that money can buy. If you need to shop for the person who is impossible to please, these ten ideas are your best shot.
A (Whole) Cruise Ship for a Week
During last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, the 212-passenger Windstar Sea Breeze moored in the little principality’s harbor so that its occupants could party and view the races. But it wasn’t a random collection of cruisers—everyone aboard was a guest of a single wealthy client who just wanted a couple of hundred of his closest friends to have the same home base for the week. This is an increasing trend: Cruise liners that are occasionally rented out for corporate events are being co-opted for birthday parties and family reunions.
One birthday boy on a Crystal ship outfitted the staff’s uniforms (and the bottom of the pool) with his family crest for the occasion—another Crystal ship-renter, who is a well-known former talk-show host, provided each guest with his or her own monogrammed pillow in the staterooms. When it comes to the kind of customization you can get your billionaire with this gift, the sea’s the limit.
Cost: $500,000 per week up to $1 million
A Bottle of Ultra-Rare Champagne
Only a few small plots in the Champagne region were spared from the ravages of the phylloxera virus, which devastated European winemaking in 1863 and forced vintners there to graft native vines onto robust, imported American roots. One of the remaining plots with French roots is a jumbled, now-ancient half- acre clos at the Bollinger vineyard, where a highly sought-after Champagne is made in the old style.
To craft the ultra-delicious vieilles vignes, Pinot noir grapes are crushed in a small press, where the cuvee is extracted (the first and best juice) and then aged in French oak barrels that are up to a century old. Any given year will yield between only six and nine barrels. After aging for eight to 12 years, a couple of thousand bottles will be sold to a ravenous crowd of wine fans. Your billionaire may be able to afford one of these herself—getting her hands on a bottle is another story.
Cost: $975 per bottle for the 2005 vintage, up to $5,000 and beyond for older vintages.
Tommy Hilfiger’s 2003 Ferrari Enzo
Only 400 Ferrari Enzos were ever made, and the cherry red one owned by fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger is in spectacular condition. A bit more than 3,600 miles are on the odometer, and it has been in Hilfiger’s hands since it was sold, which makes it even more valuable.
“My lifestyle is changing,” the 65-year-old told Bloomberg, explaining his decision to auction the supercar at Scottsdale in January. “I don't drive fast sports cars as I used to. These days I prefer driving my Rolls-Royce Dawn or my Maybach.”
Advantage: your billionaire. While Hilfiger’s gotten tired of clambering in through the dramatic scissor doors and revving up the V-12, 650-hp engine, your gift recipient will be able to enjoy all those horses in near-mint condition—plus a carbon-fiber body, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a top speed of 218 mph. Of course, when it comes to price, the advantage goes to Hilfiger; he likely bought it for about $650,000, and you’ll pay millions.
Cost: Experts at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance bet this car could break the $3 million mark at auction.
An All-Sapphire Watch
Choosy watch fans love to be able to see the mechanics at work inside their little horological marvels, so an increasing trend in recent years has been to make cases entirely out of transparent or colored sapphire. A standout in this category is the Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° Technique, a spin on a much-loved watch from the brand that had previously come in metal versions. Now there’s hardly any metal to be found on the dial or case, minus a few screws and the winding pin. It’s a manually wound watch, with a 120-hour power reserve and two tourbillons.
Of course, the thing that will really win over your billionaire is its scarcity and value—only eight will be made, all of which will be exclusively sold in the U,S. Oh yeah, and that price…
Cost: $1.275 million. For a watch.
A Private Jet in Rose Gold
Rose gold has been such a trend in recent years, hasn’t it? It has appeared on mechanical watches, on wedding rings, and on such Apple products as the iPad and the Watch. So it’s only natural you’d start seeing it in the air, right? Wrong.
This straight-out-of-Scrooge-McDuck’s-dreams gift is one of the counterintuitive wonders available in the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. According to NM, the Cobalt Valkyrie-X “will be one of the fastest piston aircraft in the world when it debuts in 2017. With a shape that is raindrop sleek and a 350-horsepower engine, the Valkyrie-X will whisk its pilot and three passengers along at speeds of up to 230 miles per hour, with a range of up to 1,150 ground miles.”
Also, spoiler alert: It will attract a lot of attention. The actual structure of the plane is carbon composite, but the exterior is plated in an exclusive rose gold coating formula, and the interior flight controls are also sheathed in the material. And with each purchase, Neiman Marcus will donate $200,000 to the Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation.
Cost: $1.5 million
A Hotel Built From Scratch
Do you have a picky billionaire? It happens; you’re not alone. Luxury travel outfitter Black Tomato has your back. If no hotels on earth ever seem to meet his needs—or there isn’t even a hotel in the part of the world where he wants to go—they’ll build one. From scratch. A whole hotel.
The new service, called Blink, will plop a fully customized pop-up hotel on a pristine spot of land wherever you want it to, complete with accommodations, meals, planned activities, and a staff. If you want, you can select everything from the patterns on the seat cushions to the bottles of wine in the cellar. The brand estimates that there are 751,074,508,800 different combinations you can choose from. In three to five months, your billionaire’s hotel will be ready, and you can send her off to Timbuktu for a week, just as you always dreamed.
Cost: Pop-ups range in price. Examples supplied from Black Tomato include $65,784 for a group of six for three nights in Morocco to $177,600 for the same group spending four nights in Bolivia.
A House in a Billionaire’s Hawaiian Enclave
Nestled on the Big Island’s Kona Coast, between deep blue lakes, lush waves of greenery, and ancient lava flows, Kohanaiki is the latest Hawaiian playground for the ultra-rich. There, the 80 homeowners and their families enjoy a Rees Jones golf course with six oceanfront holes, plus a private spa with locally inspired treatments and a yoga lawn. There’s tennis on the 450-acre property, naturally, plus a bowling alley, cigar lounge, restaurants, a Scotch bar, and a craft beer brewer on site.
Tennis star Lindsay Davenport and golfer Ben Crenshaw have already scooped up homes there and are enjoying the little comfort stations around the property that continually dispense soft-serve ice cream and Mai Tais. Oh, and there’s a garden where local fruit grows, so if your billionaire wants to pick dragon fruit off a tree and eat it, she can. (Your billionaire probably does not want to do that.)
Cost: $100,000 entry fee; $25,000 annual dues. The most inexpensive home is a $3 million attached home, while the upper end includes a $22.5 million five-bedroom custom home. We say go big. Or go home and eat dragon fruit.
A Bottle of Six-Figure Whisky
Japanese whisky has been such a rage all over the world that high-end brands are beginning to run out of their age-labeled bottles. But for some time now, one line has reigned supreme: the Suntory Yamazaki 50 Year, which made its debut in 2005 at $9,500 a bottle. Aged since the 1950s in Japanese mizunara oak barrels, the liquid has a dry finish and a musky nose. The brand released only 250 bottles, and earlier this year one sold at auction for $109,585. You can buy your billionaire the one remaining retail bottle at Dekanta distributors. But act fast—even that will seem like a bargain when none are left on the market.
A Culinary World Tour, by Rene Redzepi and the Four Seasons
For a few years now, the Four Seasons private jet experience has been one of those, “If I had unlimited funds, maybe I would do it” larks. New York Times columnist David Brooks famously joined a trip for a leg, and couldn’t quite figure it out. Their chef-curated food tours have finally nailed the concept: What if you do want to eat the best food in the world, and remain in nestled in comfort and familiarity at every moment between stops?
The latest “Culinary Discoveries” tour was curated with the four-time “world’s best restaurant” winner, Noma, and its peripatetic founding chef René Redzepi. Starting in Seoul, this trip will jump from Tokyo, to Hong Kong, to Chiang Mai in Thailand, where you’ll ride an elephant to a tribal village and enjoy a local lunch with a Noma chef. Further stops include Mumbai, Florence, and Lisbon. Of course, you’ll spend some time in Copenhagen, where you’ll be able to go foraging with the Noma team, followed by a meal in their restaurant. But you have to hurry, Noma is closing this winter, and your billionaire will be furious if he’s the only person at Davos who never ate there.
Cost: $135,000 per person, based on double occupancy.
A Floor-Through Apartment in the Historic Woolworth Tower
Manhattan has a lot of storied skyscrapers, but few of the truly old icons (the Empire State, Chrysler, and Flatiron buildings) actually include residences, which makes the Woolworth Tower extra incredible. The 1913 landmark tower, designed by architect Cass Gilbert, is recognizable for its high-pitched copper roof—which has played a role in many films, including the site of a battle between Amy Adams and a dragon in Enchanted. Currently, one- through four-bedroom residences are available, all with state-of-the-art finishes such as Dada cabinetry and Calacatta marble in the kitchens and bathrooms. Architect Thierry W. Despont for Alchemy Properties oversaw the yearslong renovation.
Residence 31A, the crown jewel of the complex, is a full-floor, four-bedroom featuring two dramatic private terraces lined with the familiar copper and terra cotta details that make the building so famous. There are 360-degree views from the apartment, which is awash in meticulous herringbone floors and spacious walk-in closets. If your billionaire wants to feel like an old-school king of New York, there’s no better castle. Dragons not included.
Cost: $26.4 million