Who’d Be A Billionaire? Not merely a question, to which most people’s answer would be an unhesitating, “Me, please,” but also the title of a new TV series which launched this spring in the UK on Skyliving and will soon be on air all over Europe.

The show is the brainchild of British TV Producers Remy Blumenfeld and Rod Williams who set out to explore the forensics of the Billionaire lifestyle. “Who hasn’t dreamed of owning a yacht, for instance,” says Williams, “Yet the reality is very different from the dream. It costs upwards of 40,000 Euros just to fill the tank of a superyacht every time you want to go for a cruise; you need a crew of 10 to 120 to keep things running smoothly and if you want to berth in St Barts for New Years, you need to dock months in advance to have any chance of a good spot”. “Not only that,” adds Blumenfeld “All the people you know already own a yacht of their own, so there’s no one to invite to come stay. It’s very lonely. You end up inviting your paid friends: your stylist, your decorator, your trainer”.

What Who’d Be A Billionaire does brilliantly over 6 hour long episodes is to expose the lonely, joyless world of a tiny elite for whom too much is never enough, so that while audiences may come to the series thinking “I wish that was me,” we leave each programme feeling “thank goodness that’s not me” and that, perhaps is the secret of the show’s success. It doubled the average ratings for it’s 8pm slot on SKY and the Sunday repeat was often the most watched programme in multichannel.

What the Super-Tutor Saw

If there’s one yardstick by which every billionaire measures his success it’s his fleet of staff. Today the household staff of the super-rich has expanded far beyond the traditional nanny, housekeeper and cook to include personal assistants, publicists, pilots, nutritionists, super- tutors, floral architects and even candle artisans. And these highly paid professionals must be ready to cater to any and every whim however outlandish or outré. “One family they were out at sea and Madame suddenly decided that she wanted to go for a swim,” says Sara Vestin Rahmani of luxury recruitment agency, ‘The Bespoke Bureau’. “One of the stewardesses spotted jellyfish in the water. So she got one of the other stewardesses to jump in in front of Madame, she got stung to bits but didn’t complain, just to make sure that Madame could go for a lovely little swim”.

According to the International Guild of Professional Butlers in the 1980s there were just over 100 Butlers employed in Britain. Today there are over 10,000 some charging as much as £300,000 a year. It’s estimated that there are more servants in Mayfair than there were in Georgian times. They’re calling this the ‘Downton Effect’ with the new, moneyed elite desperate to live like their well-heeled predecessors. “We’re living in a financial golden age which in many ways has comparisons with the great Victorian and Edwardian age,” says William Cash, Editor-in-Chief of Spears “and one of the biggest trends is the extraordinary numbers of staff people have”. “We recently filled 3 Baccarat crystal bowls that had been flown over from New York 1st class,” says Candle Artisan, Rachel Vosper, “and they were filled in our table in Belgravia and flown back by private jet. Two members of staff are often employed to look after the candles in the house which involves trimming the wicks every four hours”.

On the outside every aspect of the Billionaire lifestyle screams status and success. But on the inside there’s a nagging awareness that one day the family legacy will rest on their darling little children. This fear has contributed to the latest must-have billionaire accessory: the live-in super-tutor. So fierce is the competition between the super-rich there are now bidding wars to secure the best tutors. “His parents are setting me up with an apartment in Manhattan, covering my expenses to fly home whenever I need to and putting me on a salary which is really competitive,” says 27 year- old classics graduate, Tara Crabbe. “It’s as much as I would be earning for my age in the city a year. And that’s just for tutoring for 2 hours a day!”.“I’ve often had children who will write an essay about caviar, or endless holidays in Monte Carlo or yachts,” says 29 year-old super-tutor, Phineas Pett. “One said to me, ‘Phin, at school none of my friends know like Louis Vuitton, Hermes or Chanel, they’ve never heard of any of these brands.’ I said, ‘that’s because they’re normal children aged 11’. He said. ‘I know, it’s like really weird’”. The super-rich need super-staff. But cross your loyal staff at your peril. As they are all too aware with great servitude comes great power. "The biggest source of fear is their staff and no amount of injunctions will ever shut them up,” says artist and writer Helen Kirwan-Taylor, “so they pay them more and more”.

Toys of the Private Jet Set

Oligarchs, hedge funders, Internet entrepreneurs: new money billionaires are springing up faster than ever before. And they want grand, iconic toys that scream ‘Check me out!’. “Ten years ago we had the haves and the have yachts,” says author and journalist Rachel Johnson. “Now we have the haves and the have giga-yachts. We have the rich, the super-rich and the ultra-rich”. This episode explores the three status-defining possessions every billionaire must have: a private jet, a collection of super-cars and a mega-yacht. At this level, to stand out from your peers requires something truly extraordinary.

“They want the latest gadget,” says interior designer Nicky Haslam. “They want – that awful expression - ‘The James Bond factor’. And when you’re hyper-rich you can have whatever you want – within reason”. “We had one client whose wife wondered if we could keep a pony on board’, comments yacht designer Ed Dubois. ‘Another wanted a swimming pool that would be half shark, half human with a glass wall between the two. I didn’t think that would be very kind to the sharks”. Running a yacht is eye-wateringly expensive. A tank of petrol can cost up to £400,000; and mega and giga-yachts require up to 70 staff, the size of a small hotel. And super-yacht staff had better measure up - literally.“If you’re size 12-14 it’s very hard to do your job in a correct manner,’ says yacht-crew trainer Terry Gilmore, of Abacus and March. ‘The last thing they want is someone who’s frumpy. They want someone young, vibrant and attractive”.

Legendary jet salesman, New Yorker, Steve Versano. Steve, who started out by selling a jet to Frank Sinatra, has opened a super-sexy retail environment on Park Lane complete with a jet trading desk and billionaire friendly mega app, his ‘multi-millionometer’. “Super successful people, super-powerful people will spend ten million dollars buying an asset,” says Steve, “but they will decide to fly economy instead of business class because they can save a hundred dollars”. “They want their yacht to be the best,” says author and journalist Rachel Johnson, “and it causes them genuine pain when some other dude’s yacht comes in and it’s bigger. They feel they’ve failed. Even though they’ve got an enormous, fuck off sized yacht!”.

Inside the Mega Mansions Behind the unchanged facades of Grade I listed buildings the super-rich are transforming their property on an epic scale. And no jet-set flight of fantasy is impossible. “We were asked to do a house in the country the other day and it had two swimming pools off the bedrooms on the top floor,” says interior designer Nicky Haslam. “One for each child”. “The Medicis are back in town,” says interior designer Karen Howes. “We can work with fantastic materials to create one-off beautiful collector’s pieces that will become the antiques of the future”.

Today, the average billionaire owns four mega mansions averaging £14 million pounds. For top end interior designers this Jacuzzi of cash is a fabulous opportunity to get creative. Nicky Haslam is putting the finishing touches to a 7000 square foot triplex apartment on Park Lane that will be the largest and most luxurious penthouse in town. The interior design includes a mechanized sliding bookcase that disappears at the flick of a switch to furnish a, Come in, Mr Bond’ ‘Martini moment’. The homes of the super-rich increasingly resemble five star hotels.

The average billionaire owns an international portfolio of six ‘buy to leave’ properties. On the Cote D’Azur, flamboyant Sotheby’s realtor, Alexander Kraft, reveals the newly built “Venetian Palace”, on sale at 72 million pounds, and a penthouse in Monaco where prices can reach £100,000 pounds per square metre. “There’s quite a lot of rivalry between the super-rich,” says Kraft, a multi-millionaire in his own right. “Am I at the best address? Do I have the biggest property on the Cap Ferrat in Southern France? Do I have the biggest house on Eaton Square? Do I have the biggest Penthouse on 5th Avenue? But do these pleasure domes really bring their owners pleasure?”. “I can think of one client who has multiple properties,” says Jane Urquhart, Principal of the London Academy for Household Staff. “One in the country has got a butler, a housekeeper and a driver/handyman. And every morning the housekeeper makes sure the flowers are fresh and the butler makes sure there’s ice in the bucket and the driver/handyman makes sure everything is working. And the employer has never slept there”.

Just Married (Subject To Contract)

When it comes to love and romance the problem for the super-rich is as old as the hills: is it she me likes or is it my bulging wallet? Choosing a partner is the riskiest investment a billionaire will ever make because the city streets are paved with gold-diggers. “It’s a nightmare because they can never really trust anyone,’ says matchmaker Mary Balfour of ‘Drawing down the Moon.” “They are always feeling they might be exploited by gold-diggers or people who may not start out as gold-diggers but end up as gold-diggers”. “I hope I don’t get hate mail for this but the best career for a woman is to marry a wealthy man without a pre-nup,” comments legendary divorce lawyer Raymond Tooth. “There was a famous case where a man was worth 20 million, the marriage lasted 3 years, no children, she came into it with nothing and ended up with £5 million. £5 million, tax free!”. For a membership fee of up to £200,000 San Francisco matchmaker Amber Kelleher helps billionaires, both men and women, stay safe while looking for love. And when billionaires do find the one, who better to help them draft a pre-nup than top divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag? Ayesha who has just married for the second time with a pre-nup signed it again post- nup in front of 300 wedding guests – just to be on the safe side. “For the super-rich it can be incredibly important to have a pre-nup,” says Ayesha, “because it’s the one thing that makes you feel absolutely sure that you’re being married for love”.

When a billionaire believes he’s found a trustworthy mate it’s time to celebrate his success with an extremely extravagant wedding. Recent super-rich weddings have involved flying wedding parties by private jet to mountain-tops, glaciers and even the top of a volcano. Hiring the Palace of Versailles or the Vatican doesn’t cut it any longer. “There was a wedding recently where the bride and all the bridesmaids wore Vera Wang bespoke,” says Maxine Briggs, editor of ‘You and Your Wedding’ “and the total dress bill was £16 million. You could take the Kim Kardashian wedding and times it by ten and you still would not get anywhere close to what the super-rich are doing right now”. Finally, with contributions from leading divorce lawyers and barristers we explore why London has become ‘divorce capital of the world’ and reveal the tactics used by the foreign super-rich wife seeking to prove her British credentials.

Million Dollar Vacuum Cleaner

Austerity measures? What austerity measures? In 2013 the hyperrich spent £1.1 trillion pounds on luxury goods and services. Watches, jewellery, fine wine and canvas after canvas of great art are all getting snapped up like they’re going out of fashion. For many free-spending billionaires life has become a gold plated trolley dash. In this episode we explore the spending habits of the ultra rich.

Welcome to a world of rock crystal baths costing £1 million, gold-plated cots, dummies and milk- bottles that sell for hundreds of thousands and that most regal of domestic appliances, the 24- carat, gold-plated vacuum cleaner. For the billionaire who literally wants to smell of money, Azzi Glasser, perfume designer to the ultra rich, creates bespoke scents that cost up to £50,000 a bottle. And for the Oligarch who wants to give his wife a special birthday present how about commissioning a bespoke Tiffany Blue Bentley wrapped in a Tiffany blue box and unveiling it as a surprise birthday present at the Ritz Hotel? “Billionaires chase something that’s unique because it can’t be one-upped,” comments Michael Byrne of Wealth-X. “They want something that can’t be beaten by their peers, can’t be beaten by spending more money”.

For billionaires it would seem there’s nothing money can’t buy. Create an art collection, buy a stable of horses, own your own sports team, surround yourself with A list celebrity friends – it’s all on tap for those with deep enough pockets. And what better to way to prove you’re the King than to have your very own court jester? “A lot of my clients are billionaires who want me to make fun of them and friends,” says Christopher Mason, a British socialite and songwriter based in New York. “I speak to their wives, mistresses, to get a complete picture of who they are and then I skewer them in public”. But the trappings of wealth can become traps for the wealthy. Tiring of their toys and cocoon of 7 star luxury Billionaires are splashing out on experiences. Last year they spent £300 billion on one of-a-kind adventures such as expeditions to the Arctic to hunt down endangered Polar Bears or bespoke Safaris. For luxury travel agents it’s a fabulous opportunity to get creative. “It’s not just going on a luxury holiday anymore it’s about what you can bring back,” says Philip Kjellgren of Hotel Insider. “It's still ok to brag about travel, you know, you don’t brag about cars or watches or real estate but you can brag about where you went on holiday.

But does this phenomenal power purchase ultimately deliver what all human beings crave?

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