People love to read about celebrities who spend huge sums of money on luxury items—even in these hard times. After all, who wouldn’t be amused to learn that Paris Hilton owns a $325,000 doghouse that’s an exact replica of her own mansion?
The limits of celebrity conspicuous consumption continue to be pushed. Some of the rich and famous have distinguished themselves by the sheer quantities of cash spent on quirky luxury items—up to $1 million or more. Often, the practicality of these purchases is dubious at best, and nonexistent at worst.
Who are some of the celebrities who have spent around $1 million or more on decadent extravagances? Click ahead to find out.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 15 September 2011
Life has been good to conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh. His radio show, “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” is the highest-rated radio talk show in America, and he is currently in year three of an eight-year contract with Clear Channel Communications worth $400 million. Unfortunately, Limbaugh has been less successful when it comes to his personal life: He has taken three separate trips to the altar, and all three ended in divorce.
In 2010, he decided to try again. Limbaugh proposed to Kathryn Rogers, his companion of three years, and the couple wed in Palm Beach, Fla., in a lavish ceremony attended by political personalities Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani, and Karl Rove. The most high-profile guest was Elton John, who provided musical entertainment for a fee of $1 million.
Mike Tyson's lavish spending sprees are legendary. In his heyday, the boxing giant bought two Bengal Tigers, spent more than $200,000 on cellphones in a three-year period, and paid millions of dollars for various cars and motorcycles.
Tyson filed for bankruptcy protection after the money stopped flowing, though he can take solace in the fact that he didn’t fritter away all of the money selfishly. Some of it was spent on gifts, such as a $2 million bathtub that he purchased for ex-wife Robin Givens.
The ears of comic book collectors become acutely attuned whenever the phrase “Action Comics #1” is uttered. For the uninitiated, this is the 1938 comic in which the character Superman was introduced. It originally sold for just 10 cents, but in the intervening years its value has grown to $1.5 million for a mint-condition copy.
Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage has collected rare comic books for most of his life, and he once boasted one of the most impressive celebrity-owned collections in the world. That is, until 2000, when that comic book was stolen, along with several other vintage comics.
It's not known how much Cage originally paid for his issue of “Action Comics #1.” However, in April 2011, Los Angeles police recovered the stolen first edition from a storage locker in the San Fernando Valley, surely a happy occasion for Cage no matter how much he paid for the comic.
Rihanna is a singer who’s been appearing regularly on the Billboard charts since her 2005 debut album “Music of the Sun.” She followed such chart-topping singles as “Umbrella” and “Disturbia” with more top-selling albums all the way through 2010. By April 2011, she had logged 10 number one songs—in fact, her succession of hits was the fastest accumulation of number one songs in history, second only to The Supremes and The Beatles.
Now at the height of her fame, Rihanna has chosen to focus on an investment that’s important to any professional singer—her hair. According to The Daily Mail, the singer retains the hairstyling services of one Ursula Stephen, whose services cost more than $21,000 a week. Altogether, the singer spends in excess of $1 million on hairstyling.
While many movie stars make headlines with spendthrift purchases, Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger took it to the next level in 1989. She partnered with Ameritech Pension Fund and other investors and bought Braselton, Ga., a 1,751-acre town populated by 418 people. The entire town sold for $20 million, and Basinger herself bought the Bank of Braselton for a bit less than $1 million.
Basinger’s goal in participating in the purchase of the town was to "preserve and restore a beautiful place," and eventually transform it into a tourist destination. It was not to be, however. Ameritech froze all development midway and sold its share in 1995, and Basinger sold the bank for less than she paid for it that same year.
For some, spending $1 million or more on a single item is just wasteful. After all, why spend that kind of money on one painting, comic book, or private jet when you can drop that same amount on a very gratifying session of retail therapy?
This was the rationale personified by designer Victoria Beckham, who spent $1.6 million in a single January afternoon in 2010 in the boutiques of Milan. Among the items she purchased were 12 pairs of Versace sunglasses, a set of Louis Vuitton luggage, five sofas, and a $632,000 Rolex watch for her footballer husband David Beckham.
Tamara Ecclestone is the daughter of Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of Formula One. Her father is worth more than $4 billion, and Ecclestone has made her own way with a career as a television personality, model, and animal rights activist.
Rescuing minks from coat manufacturers can be nerve-racking work, and when it comes to relaxing, few of life’s pleasures equal soaking in a hot bath. For this purpose, Ecclestone invested in a somewhat practical purchase—a crystal bathtub worth $1.6 million.
Neo Rauch is a contemporary German artist. According to ARTINFO, he “has emerged as one of the key figures in the resurgence of German figurative painting” and has “influences ranging from state-sponsored Socialist Realism to Surrealism to the art of comic books and commercial graphics.”
In June 2009, Brad Pitt caused a stir when he showed up at an art fair in Basel, Switzerland, and parked himself in front of Rauch’s 1998 painting “Etappe.” After some wavering, the one-time “world’s sexiest man” decided to take the painting home for a sum of just under $1 million.
Dennis Kozlowski is the former CEO of the Tyco International manufacturing company. Currently, both he and former chief financial officer Mark H. Swartz are serving time in prison after being convicted of stealing $600 million from the company. Before his conviction, however, Kozlowski lived the good life and indulged in extravagances to prove it.
One outrageous example was a party the tycoon threw for his wife’s 40th birthday. Perhaps sensitive to the fact that it was a milestone birthday, Kozlowski made it a night to remember. The $2 million soiree was held on the island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, and the steep tab covered such expenses as a live performance by “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett, luxe togas to be worn by guests, and an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David that urinated vodka.