5 insane uses for dot com fortunes

Fast cars & super yachts - how boring! These millionaires found unusual ways to splash their cash

Image via Stocksy



You know your art collection is big when it can fill a five-story museum. This is the case for entrepreneur Rudy Ciccarello, the founder of pharmaceutical-supply company Florida Infusion who, after retiring in 2013, decided to dedicate the next chapter to his love of American arts and crafts. Problem was, he needed more space to house his collection, which includes pottery, metal works and Pictorialist photographs. So he self-funded a 110,00-foot museum in St Petersburg, Florida. To put this into perspective, the local Dali Museum is less than 70,000 square feet. Rudy did originally plan it to be ‘just’ 90,000 feet but then decided to extend it. It’s hoped the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will open its doors in 2017.

And when it does, the space won’t be short on items to display. The pharma-founder estimates he owns over 1300 works in total, which he says are worth between US$40 million and US$50 million. In the meantime, Rudy says he’s stopped “aggressively” chasing new purchases. Well, you want to leave some room for a gift shop.



A few of years ago, the young co-founders of Summit Series wanted to find an unconventional venue to hold their annual conference. The answer? They decided to all chip in and buy a ski resort on a mountain for a cool US$40 million. It’s an impressive purchase given the owners are all in their 20s, which makes Elliott Bisnow, Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal, Jeremy Schwartz, and Ryan Begelman the youngest ownership group of any mountain in the US (who even knew that was a thing?). Admittedly, it’s not entirely their own money, with investors including The 4 Hour Work Week author Tim Ferriss pitching in.

According to Summit’s advisor Thayer Walker, the founding group also includes an Iranian refugee-turned-neuroscientist; one of the top snowboarders in the world; a super successful female Hollywood producer and a former head of UNICEF. Now the deed has been signed, it’s time to renovate their new real estate. First on the list was the creation of a “human-sized bird’s nest”. Obviously.



In 2012 Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos made headlines by investing US$42 million in a clock – but this isn’t just any timepiece. When it’s completed the ‘10,000 year clock’ should, if all goes to plan, be able to run for 10 straight millennia with minimum maintenance, powered by solar power and manual winding by visitors.

So, what’s the point? The giant structure, which is being overseen by The Long Now Foundation, aims to be an antidote to our speed-focused culture. “The clock is a symbol for long-term thinking,” explains Jeff. “If we think long-term, we can accomplish things we couldn’t otherwise accomplish.”

It’s unclear when the project will be finished but this doesn’t seem to bother Jeff, who has talked in the past about the importance of patience and delayed gratification as a business tool.

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Jeff once said. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.” See you in 10,000 years, then.



How much would you pay for lunch with your business idol? This year Zhu Ye, the chairman of Chinese online gaming company Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co, agreed to pay US$2,345,678 to eat one meal with Warren Buffett. It was all in the name of charity, as the dinner date was auctioned for San Francisco not-for-profit Glide Foundation and its work helping the poor, and was actually a low offer compared to 2012, when the same auction item raised nearly US$3.5million.

Zhu Ye is allowed to bring up to seven of his friends to the lunch and can ask the business icon about philanthropy, but not about what he is currently buying and selling on the investment market. “Mr Buffett will dine with the winning bidder and up to seven friends at Smith & Wollensky in New York City on a mutually agreed upon date,” read the original eBay listing. Although if you’re thinking of bidding next year, please note – refunds are not accepted.



And for the entrepreneur who has everything, how about the most expensive anything? The Most Expensive Journal (most-expensive.com) is a site dedicated to listing the costliest consumer items across all lifestyle categories – from the most expensive iPad case (an alligator skin design made by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tailor David August) to the most expensive ‘personal safe’ (a US$339,000 six-foot steel shell designed by Karl Lagerfeld and German designers Dottling). The website is basically a shopping list for creating the world’s most expensive workspace – or the gaudiest. You decide.


Read more ‘insane uses for your fortune’ in Issue 26 of The Collective

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