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The 5 Most Eccentric Millionaires & Billionaires

It’s a tough list, but someone had to make it

By Adam Benjamin, InvestorPlace Assistant Editor

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Source: ©iStock.com/bowie15

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Source: ©iStock.com/bowie15

Carlos Slim, who has the most eccentric-playboy-millionaire name of all the eccentric millionaires, has been making headlines for his recently vocalized opinions about the work week.

“People are overworked! Everyone should have three-day work weeks!” is exactly the kind of rambling you’d expect from someone who has more money than you will make in the rest of your life. After all, it’s easy for him to say, right?

Well, sure. But if you give it a bit more thought, Slim’s suggestion isn’t as crazy as it sounds. And compared to some of the shenanigans that other millionaires and billionaires get into, it’s actually quite tame.

But you’re not here for tame. You’re here for wildly crazy and eccentric. So here you go — 5 of the most eccentric millionaires and billionaires out there:

Eccentric Millionaires and Billionaires – Richard Branson

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Source: ©iStock.com/Vipre77

Net Worth: $5.1 billion

Let’s be honest. Any list of super-rich and/or eccentric people kind of has to start with Richard Branson.

Sure, Branson isn’t the craziest member of the billionaire club, but his eccentricity is well-reported.

Branson made his billions with Virgin Group, which started as a record store before evolving into the record label that signed the Sex Pistols. From there, Branson expanded outward, launching Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Mobile.

The mix-and-match business ventures are borderline eccentric in and of themselves, but it’s Branson’s future ambitions that lets him lead our list of eccentric millionaires billionaires.

Seemingly deciding that his present ventures lacked ambition, Branson started Virgin Galactic to give non-astronauts a chance at soaring into space. And considering that tickets are expected to go for $200,000, the only people who will be able to afford it are other wealthy people.

So, basically, he’s an eccentric billionaire who’s marketing to eccentric millionaires. Brilliant!

Eccentric Millionaires and Billionaires – Clive Palmer

eccentric millionaire clive palmer
Source: ©iStock.com/leonello

Net Worth: $550 million

Clive Palmer is a millionaire from “down under,” amassing a fortune worth more than a half a billion dollars. Palmer owns Mineralogy, an Australian mining company that focuses on iron ore. Natural resources have long been a great way to get rich, as has been well-documented in history books and on television.

Of course, just having a whole bunch of money isn’t enough to qualify someone for the list of most eccentric millionaires. Even spending a bunch of money isn’t enough — there’s a difference between big spending an eccentric spending.

Palmer, it seems, wanted to make sure there was no question about how to categorize his spending.

A person who is weird-but-not-rich might buy a pet iguana. A person who is rich but not especially strange might buy a pet lynx. But a truly eccentric millionaire aspires to something greater: dinosaurs. Clive Palmer reportedly sunk some of his millions into research for dinosaur cloning, attempting to become the real-world John Hammond. But when that didn’t work out, he opted for a dinosaur-themed golf course instead.

Not a putt-putt course, mind you — a full-scale (dinosaur-laden) golf resort.

Eccentricity: achieved.

Eccentric Millionaires and Billionaires – Peter Thiel

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Source: ©iStock.com/carloscastilla

Net Worth: $2.3 billion

Peter Thiel made his money the new-fashioned way, co-founding electronic payments site PayPal — now owned by eBay (EBAY) — and investing in Facebook (FB) early on. He’s an active venture capitalist who has a keen eye on the tech sector. His venture capitalism effort, Founders Fund, focuses on disruptive technologies like Airbnb.

A bit ahead of the curve, but so far, so normal, right?

Then you get to Vicarious — a company whose mission, prominently stated on its website’s homepage, is to “build the next generation of AI algorithms.” The list of investors reads like a tech company all-star team: Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, … um, Ashton Kutcher. But what do they do?

“Using inductive biases drawn from neuroscience, our system requires orders of magnitude less training data than traditional machine learning techniques. Our underlying framework combines advantages of deep architectures and generative probabilistic models. We use modern software engineering practices, and we strive to maintain a codebase and a culture that are a joy to work in.”

A bit technical, but nothing too scary … until you click the “join” tab, where you see this:

“Our long term goal is to build machines that exceed human intelligence.”

Altruistic? Or apocalyptic? We’ll leave that decision to you. But it’s definitely eccentric … unless you’re actually expecting a robot uprising, in which case it actually looks pretty practical.

Eccentric Millionaires and Billionaires – Nicolas Berggruen

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Source: ©iStock.com/nao

Net Worth: $1.9 billion

Sometimes, our possessions become a source of suffering, not a source of pleasure. And when you think about it, that shiny new smartphone is really fun until people start calling to tell you that your credit card payment is overdue and your bank account is overdrawn.

Much better, then, to give it all away and live a meek life among nature, right?

Or you could just do what Nicolas Berggruen did: Give away all your possessions (or most of them, anyway) and live out of swanky hotels for the rest of your life. After all, getting rid of your possessions doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your standards, right? It just means fewer things to load into your private jet.

Nicolas Berggruen basically is a grown-up version of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone.

At first, this might seem to fall under the lavish-but-not-eccentric category of behavior. But think about the consequences of living luxury-hotel-to-luxury-hotel. People make your bed for you every day, but it’s not really your bed, is it? There’s no accumulated history with the place you’re living. No such thing as “familiar comfort.” It’s convenience at the cost of complacency.

And that’s eccentric.

Eccentric Millionaires and Billionaires – Bruce Wayne

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Source: ©iStock.com/neilkendall

Net Worth: $9.2 billion

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! That’s not even a real person.”

Fair. But in our defense, the story says “The 5 Most Eccentric Millionaires,” not The 5 Most Eccentric Millionaires Who Are Also Real People.” And let’s be honest, you’re here for the eccentricity, not nonfiction history.

Bruce Wayne was heir to the Wayne fortune, which he inherits at age 8 after his parents are murdered in front of him in Crime Alley. And after years of brooding and struggling to find his way, he does what anyone would do the eccentric thing: use most of his fortune to dress up like a bat, scare criminals and fight the criminally insane.

And while that’s all well and good, that’s not the craziest thing he’s done.

This is a man who keeps military-grade weapons underneath his house. This is a man who works with other superheroes, and keeps a secret list detailing how to take them down — just in case. This is a man who thought it would be totally cool to train a teenager, dress him in bright colors and take him out crimefighting.

Yes, Iron Man might have an entire hangar full of suits, but when it comes to eccentric millionaires, Bruce Wayne can’t be topped.


Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2014/07/eccentric-millionaires-billionaires/.

©2017 InvestorPlace Media, LLC