Make It

Wall Street’s obscene spending confessions: From a $150,000 backyard golf course to a $100,000 ‘sin tax’

Source: Showtime

"What's the point of having f--- you money if you never say f--- you?" – Bobby Axelrod (Damien Lewis) in the Showtime series "Billions"

F--- you money is a common expression on Wall Street. You work hard to earn that obscene paycheck so f--- you, I'm going to spend hard, too. Bobby Axelrod's No. 2 at Axe Capital, "Wags," is famous for one-liners about indulgence like "Yo, b----es! Saddle up. Body shots and sushi at the strip joint, on me."

Real-life hedgies like Wags know f--- you money is offensive and they don't care. Spend it if you got it.

"Why not?" a portfolio manager responded when asked why he spends so extravagantly. "It's simple math, I make a lot so I spend a lot. If the AmEx bill comes in under $20K, I wonder what I did wrong that month."

Turney Duff appears on the CNBC series "Filthy Rich Guide." Here's a sneak peek of the premier episode of Season 3, which airs Wednesday night at 10pm ET:

That totally used to be me. By my late 20s and early 30s, I owned a beautiful apartment in Manhattan's NoHo neighborhood and a 100-year-old home on the North Shore of Long Island. I flew over traffic jams in private helicopters to the Hamptons and Atlantic City. I sat in 50-yard-line seats at the Super Bowl and right behind the dugout at Yankee playoff games. I dropped $10,000 on bedding — not a bed — bedding, $25,000 on my daughter's first birthday with a yacht cruising around Manhattan and another $25,000 on my birthday party with Naughty by Nature performing a set — all because I could.

So, what are the indulgences and guilty pleasures on Wall Street today? I put in a few phone calls and emails. In the spirit of full disclosure, more than a few guys pointed out that times have changed on Wall Street. "Guys aren't spending like they used to."

Still, you know they're spending, right? Here a few indulgent confessions from Wall Street:

$300 — Le Burger Extravagant

"I don't always go uptown," a buy-side trader said. "But it's so worth the trip."

Serendipity 3 offers one of the most expensive burgers in the world. The Japanese Wagyu beef is infused with 10-herb white truffle butter and is filled with premium ingredients. It's not on the menu — the order, which is always sure to impress a client, needs to be called in well in advance. And it's only to be outdone by the $1,000 golden opulence sundae.

$1,000 — Caviar

"Russ & Daughters is the only place I eat caviar," a portfolio manager said. "Once a month I treat myself to a little indulgence. It's like making love to the sea."

Some people go golfing or get a massage once a month — this guy drops $1,000 on caviar once a month.

For sure, it's a lot of caviar — 250g — but at $1,000 a month, that works out to $12,000 a year — just for his "grocery store" caviar bill. That's not even counting dinners at Caviar Russe, Petrossian or other fishy hot spots.

But hey, when you're making love to sea, $1,000 doesn't seem like that much, right?!

$10,000 — Toto Toilet
"I got it for the heated seat," a private equity guy said. "But it does a bunch of other cool stuff."

It's like a smartphone, but a toilet — yup that's right going No. 2 just got smarter. It also has heated seat, deodorizer and warm water sprays. It's the Neorest 750H Dual Flush Toilet with Actlight from Toto.

$15,000 — Ice Rink Birthday Party
"We went all out on the little guy's 10th birthday," a buy side analyst said. "We turned the backyard into a magical ice rink. We hired professional skaters to come in and teach all of the kids, but since I was spending all of the money I figured rather than rent — we should build our own rink."

$44,000 — Strip Club Bill
What do you get at a strip club for $44,000? We may never know.

"Honestly I don't remember the night," a trader said. "I think they slipped something in to my drink in the back room. And I didn't even know until I got the credit card bill, but I can't fight the charges because it'll draw to much attention to the night."

$50,000 — Field of Dreams
The complex took several months to build, but it includes a batting cage, full court basketball and a beautiful Wiffle ball field. And it's provided endless hours of neighborhood competition.

"The main reason I dropped this kinda cash on it is because I have two sons, and if you want to keep tabs on them, the best way to do it is to make your house the place to be," sales trader said. "I actually got a deal on this because I knew the right people ... It should have cost more."

That's right. $50,000 — and he thinks he got a bargain.

"Russ & Daughters is the only place I eat caviar. Once a month I treat myself to a little indulgence. It's like making love to the sea." -portfolio manager

$250,000 — Wedding
"You only get married once," a currency trader said. "Well, maybe a second and third time, too, but you might as well blowout on the first one. Before I even got started, I was $100,000 in the hole with Cipriani Wall Street costing $80,000 and $25,000 for the band. We had about 180 guests."

The other big-ticket items on the list were a $30,000 engagement ring, $25,000 for the photographer, videographer and planner, and dropping $10,000 on a dress from Lovely Bride.

I mean, at $9,000, it better be lovely, right?!

$100,000 — Sin Tax
Perhaps one of the most famous stories in Wall Street lore is the trader who wrote his girlfriend a $100,000 check to be cashed at a later date if he was caught using drugs, staying out late or hanging out with strippers and prostitutes.

I'm pretty sure you know how this story ends — but I'll continue anyway for your amusement. The check was cashed after a 2005 outing to Flashdancers and a failed drug test, according to the New York Post.

There was a little bit of he-said she-said because he didn't think he did the REALLY BAD STUFF and took her to court claiming extortion.

Well, let's just say, according to the Post, the love didn't last and the money was never returned.

$150,000 — Backyard Golf Complex

Chris Condon | PGA TOUR | Getty Images

"My boss is in the early stages of pimping out his 10 acres of land," a hedge fund trader said. "I think he was inspired by Mark Wahlberg."

Wahlberg, according to the Back Nine Greens website, used the company not once but THREE TIMES to build a PGA-caliber golf course at his home.

The hedge-fund boss apparently plans to build a three-hole course along with a putting green. Because, if you've got the bank, why not roll like Wahlberg?

Commentary by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side." He is a commentator on CNBC's "Filthy Rich Guide" and a consultant on the Showtime series, "Billions," starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.

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