5 Strange Things Millionaires And Billionaires Spent Money On

From an $8 million preserved shark to a ghost detection system worth $50,000, here are five of the most peculiar purchases of the rich.

It’s no surprise that many of the wealthy spend their fortunes on extravagant things like supercars, megamansions, luxury yachts, and the like. The world is your oyster when you have the finances to make it so. As ABBA once sang: “Money must be funny in a rich man’s world, […] all the things I could do if I had a little money.” Still, certain wealthy individuals take their spending power to new heights with…well, let’s just say, particularly peculiar purchases. 

READ ALSO: The World’s Most Expensive Homes—With Tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s Valued At Over $2 Billion

No judgment here, but these five buys are certainly conversation starters—expensive ones at that, with prices that reach the seven figure range: 

Steve Cohen: A 14-Foot Shark Preserved in Formaldehyde ($8 million)

Billionaire Steve Cohen has a net worth of around $17.5 billion as of August 2023, according to real-time data from Forbes. The founder of Point72 Asset Management—one of the world’s biggest hedge fund firms at $27 billion—is known for his lavish purchases. For instance, he owns an impressive collection of valuable artworks from names like Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and more. 

Damien Hirst's preserved shark piece, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"
Damien Hirst’s preserved shark piece, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”/Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates from the Tate Museum website

One of his more peculiar purchases is an art piece by English artist Damien Hirst. It’s not your run-of-the-mill painting or sculpture, but rather, an actual 14-foot tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde. Entitled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” the work reportedly cost Cohen $8 million, as per the New York Magazine

Nicholas Cage: The House of a 19th Century Serial Killer ($3.4 million)

Nicholas Cage was once one of Hollywood’s top paid actors, with a net worth of around $150 million (the number has now dropped to $25 million). Much like Cohen, he has a reputation for strange buys, including exotic pets, entire castles, and even a whole dinosaur head, according to CNBC

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans
The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans/Photo by Reading Tom via Wikimedia Commons

The most intriguing of his peculiar purchases, however, is a New Orleans mansion that once belonged to Madame Delphine LaLaurie—an infamous 19th century socialite and serial killer. It’s one of the most haunted houses in America due to its bloody history. LaLaurie tortured and murdered her victims in the abode, which Cage bought for around $3.4 million in 2007. When citizens stormed her house after hearing about the cruelties, the murderous socialite fled to Paris and disappeared.

A picture of the serial killer and socialite, Madame Delphine LaLaurie
A picture of the serial killer and socialite, Madame Delphine LaLaurie/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

“I bought it in 2007, figuring it would be a good place in which to write the great American horror novel. I didn’t get too far with the novel,” shared Cage in an interview with Vanity Fair. Indeed, Cage hadn’t stayed too long within the house, and foreclosed it in 2009

William Koch: A Rare Photo of Billy the Kid ($2.3 million)

How much would you pay for a photograph? Billionaire William Koch—who comes from the Koch Industries fortune but now runs his own business, Oxbow Carbon Corp.—would pay $2.3 million if it was one of Billy the Kid. The tycoon is apparently an avid enthusiast of all things Wild West, so it makes sense that he’d want a rare photo of one of America’s most famous (or infamous) outlaws and gunfighters. 

A copy of the rare Billy the Kid picture
A copy of the rare Billy the Kid picture/Photo by Ben Wittick via Wikimedia Commons

The 1879 photo depicts the criminal holding an “upright barrel of a Winchester carbine, with a Colt 45 pistol strapped to his hip,” according to Reuters. Descendants of Dan Dedrick—the cattle rustling partner of Billy himself—kept the picture for years before Koch purchased it in 2011. 

Paris Hilton: A Two-Story Dog Mansion ($325,000)

Paris Hilton would spare no expense for her precious pooches, as the general public very well knows. From buying a $13,000 pomeranian pup to offering a $10,000 reward for her lost chihuahua (Diamond Baby), it’s clear that no amount is too big or small for her fur babies.

The facade of Paris Hilton's two-storey dog mansion
The facade of Paris Hilton’s two-storey dog mansion/Photo via Twitter @ParisHilton

Among her more peculiar (and extravagant) pet purchases was a two-storey dog mansion. Yes, you read that right, two storeys—complete with designer furniture, air conditioning, heating, mood lighting, and even a chandelier. 

A peek inside the larger-than-life canine abode
A peek inside the larger-than-life canine abode/Photo via Twitter @ParisHilton

Lady Gaga: Electromagnetic Field Ghost Detectors ($50,000)

According to Forbes, Lady Gaga had an estimated net worth of around $150 million back in 2021—though it could be higher. Like the others on this list, she’s spent on some interesting and valuable things over the years. These include a $60,000 collection of 27 koi fish and $52,000 worth of services from a NASA-trained chemist on operating her teacup dress with steam. 

A ghost hunter checking for paranormal activity with an EMF meter
A ghost hunter checking for paranormal activity with an EMF meter/Photo by LuckyLouie via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone knows Gaga as the eccentric and multi-hyphenated performer who took the world by storm. However, her fear of ghosts and all things supernatural isn’t particularly common knowledge. In fact, she reportedly spent $50,000 on electromagnetic field detectors. If the term rings a bell, these are the very same devices used to sense ghostly presences. 

The singer is so terrified of spirits that she hires professional paranormal investigators to check her tour and hotel venues, as per reports from Glamour Magazine and Forbes. Well, perhaps if you’re as famous as her, even the dead would want an autograph. 

Banner photos by Prudence Cuming Associates from the Tate Museum website and Death Cafe website.

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