While the nightmare that was (is?) the Covid-19 pandemic has been a trying time for us all, it’s also resulted, for many of us, in a period of self reflection. Perhaps we emerged with a better understanding of who we are, and what we want our future to look like.
The super rich aren’t exempt from such reflection. For them, the pandemic brought new levels of clarity. For the super rich, the pandemic was an opportunity to wake up and say, “Yes, dammit, I am going to spend my money in the most lavish way possible, so help me God.”
It helps, of course, that pandemic stimulus has helped make the world’s wealthiest wealthier. As Ruchir Sharma noted in the Financial Times “As the virus spread, central banks injected $9trn into economies worldwide, aiming to keep the world economy afloat. Much of that stimulus has gone into financial markets, and from there into the net worth of the ultra-rich.”
Sharma goes on to note that worldwide, billionaires saw their combined wealth jump by $5tn to $13tn in just 12 months. What’s more, according to the 2021 Forbes list, this year saw a record number of billionaires, up 700 to 2,700 worldwide. In China a new billionaire was made every 36 hours.
It isn’t just billionaires that are enjoying the fruits of Covid, but paltry multimillionaires too. Published in February, Knight Frank’s wealth report predicted the global population of multimillionaires would grow by 27% over the next five years.
So, with Covid-19 altering how the super rich decide to splash their cash, what exactly have they been investing in?
“This year will smash all records for super-yacht sales,” Stewart Campbell, editor of Boat International told The Times. “After lockdown, people are thinking, ‘I might as well buy one so I always have access.’ They’re thinking, ‘Life is short. Let’s buy a boat.’ ”
Times journalist Hilary Rose reports that over 1,000 super-yachts are currently under construction, a jump almost 25% on 2020. According to Campbell, post-pandemic buyers appreciate the security and isolation of a yacht. But, what is really interesting is that for the first time many punters are converting their yachts into floating corporate HQs. What’s more, they expect to spend longer at sea; sales of long-distance, sturdy expedition yachts are up 33%. Which will be handy when climate change economic woes and political tensions come to a head in a few years and we’re all forced to join marauding bands of cannibals in order to stay alive.
According to the same Times report, luxury travel is up too. Which might not be too surprising. We all want to escape, right? The difference is, again, the quality and type of the trips the super rich are choosing. Tanya Dalton represents a luxury travel agents and told the Times that clients are chartering planes to smaller airports to avoid crowds, and are holidaying for longer.
“Since Covid, we’ve noticed that they want to stay longer, at fewer and more exclusive and remote destinations. They want to get off the beaten track in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka and we’re definitely seeing a new rise in interest in wellness and the natural world, on safaris at Sujan Jawai and at Ayurveda retreats like Taj Rishikesh,” she said.
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