5 Dumb Things The Mega-Rich Blew Their Fortunes On
We've all heard tales of newly minted millionaires going bankrupt buying fleets of sports cars and gold toilet paper, but at least those things have some value. You can spend the rest of your broke life reminiscing about wiping your butt with precious metals. Of course, you can't take it with you, and these people took that axiom very, very seriously, blowing their fortunes on things that do nothing for no one. For example ...
Warren Buffett's Son Is Spending Millions Pretending To Be A Border Guard
Howard Buffett is the son of Warren Buffet, America's least-bejeweled billionaire overlord. He runs the Howard G. Buffett foundation, which receives $150-$180 million every year from its only donor (his dad). That foundation certainly does good around the world, but it also seems that Howard is investing a lot of cash and energy in pretending to be a border patrol officer. Which is, like, the second-least-cool law enforcement job. (Sorry coast guards, there's a reason you didn't make it into Hamilton.)
According to an investigation by The Phoenix New Times, Buffet has been buying up ranch land running along 7.5 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border. The place is bristling with surveillance equipment, including a 100-foot communications tower rising above a fortress-like compound 300 feet from the border. Photographs indicate that Buffett sometimes personally deploys "in the field" on armed patrols, searching for border crossings with his personal squad of off-duty Illinois police officers.
The foundation has also spent tens of millions on the Cochise County Sheriff's Department, supplying them with drones, helicopters, Bearcat armored assault vehicles, Glock .45s, and customized Ford F-150 Raptors, complete with leather seats, among other things. In 2014 alone, he gave the department $6 million -- pretty good when county funding is only $15 million. In recognition of his generosity, Buffett was made a member of the Sheriff's Assist Team and given special approval to outfit his car with flashing lights and sirens.
But Cochise County says Buffett does not have law enforcement powers. That's weird, because their records also say he has carried out multiple traffic stops. You know how it is when you've had a long day at work and decide to blow off steam by hitting the highway and enforcing some safety laws. Somebody should really have told this guy he could become an actual police officer, but as it is, we're stuck with Paul Blart: Wall Cop.
A Russian Billionaire Founded A Fake Space Nation
Private islands are for chumps. If you've got weapons manufacturing money, like Igor Raufovich Ashurbeyli, you buy your own country. You might hit a snag when you find out that all the countries have been taken and none are currently for sale, but he got around that by forming his country in space. Proving that even LARP is better when you're rich, he rented Hofburg Palace in Vienna just to stage the ceremony in which he declared himself head of state of the "Space Kingdom of Asgardia," which is the equivalent of convincing the queen of England to let you host a Star Trek convention at Buckingham Palace.
If you think that receiving messages from the space station is hard, think of the children keeping a straight face after singing the national anthem of an imaginary country.
Is there any way this could be legitimate? Can you just declare yourself king of space and expect to be invited into the United Nations? Probably not. But that hasn't stopped Ashurbeyli from forming a system of government, selecting members of a parliament, and drafting a constitution that suspiciously gives him near-absolute power.
This is all beside the point, since Asgardia is currently nothing more than a small satellite about the size of a loaf of bread that cost around $700,000 to put into space. You can apply for citizenship on their official website, but prepare to find your new home a bit cramped.
Karl Lagerfeld Left A Portion Of His Giant Estate To His Cat
Karl Lagerfeld and his rockin' ponytail left a lasting legacy in the fashion industry, mostly due to him being a fabulous jerk. Throughout his illustrious career, the clothing magnate developed as keen a taste for controversy as he did for handbags. He got in rows with celebrities like Meryl Streep and Adele, made an enemy of Indonesia with a dress draped with a verse from the Quran, and dismissed the debate about using fur in fashion as "childish." You get it, he was a real-life Zoolander villain.
But no human is a cartoon character, and Lagerfeld did have a softer side. Specifically, for Choupette, the Birman cat he "kidnapped" from a young model and spoiled rotten. She was given her own bodyguard, served lavish gourmet meals, and flown in a custom-made Louis Vuitton bag. But Choupette was no kept cat. She was a millionaire in her own right, with a sterling modeling career that included advertisements for German cars and Japanese makeup, as well as 200,000 social media followers. She's way more successful than any of us, and that was before she became one of beneficiaries of the Lagerfeld estate.
As Lagerfeld only passed away in February 2019, it's not clear yet exactly how much Choupette will inherit. The man was worth somewhere between $195 million and $300 million, so depending on her share, she could soon become the world's richest cat. However, when Lagerfeld broke the news of his pet's heiress status, he added, "Don't worry, there will be enough for everyone," so she's not his only heir. Don't worry about her, though. We suspect she has some very good lawyers.
A Crypto Millionaire Bought 100 Square Miles Of Nevada To Build A Community "Based On Blockchain"
A few people have made a lot of money trading cryptocurrency, and even more have lost everything faster than you can say "Gambler's Anonymous." Jeffrey Berns, a lawyer, was one of the lucky few who bought into Ethereum early and sold when it peaked, making himself a fortune. Then he took an enormous number of those sweet crypto-derived dollars and bought himself ... half a million acres of barren Nevada desert. His goal: To build an experimental community, one better than those old-fashioned cities like Byzantium and Newark, because this one is based on the blockchain.
"Based on the blockchain" is a phrase whose meaning is debatable, or even nonexistent, and when someone uses it, there's a good chance that they're just trying to fool investors. But skeptics ready to label Berns a conman were given pause when they realized he spent $170 million of his own money to buy the land, not to mention the further $130 million that he claims to have spent on development. This isn't the MO of a scam artist (or for that matter, of a normal developer seeking to make a profit). This is the MO of a madman cursed with visions of Utopia, which is potentially much worse, as all dystopian fiction can attest.
Berns imagines a place where ownership rights and voting powers use a decentralized server rather than a central government. "Blockchain will empower humanity in a way that has never been done before!" he says with the tone of someone from whom you should not accept a beverage. He seeks a new system in which blockchain forces everyone to play by the same rules, as Berns doesn't "think you should trust anybody right now because information that we're receiving may not be trustworthy anymore. Governments, banks, corporations, all of it." Naturally, the proposed town looks like this, because Earth architecture is too boring for the blockchain.
Space in the desert has also been bought up by companies looking to build factories and office parks, because land is cheap there and the tax policy is favorable, but it's never been considered a great place to build thousands of houses. The entire county has only a couple thousand residents, and up until now, it's been most famous for its brothels. There's not a lot of future for the town if all doesn't go as Berns plans -- or, as he puts it, maybe "I'll be known as creating the greatest crash and burn in the history of mankind." So move to Blockchain Town at your own risk. Clearly, Berns has installed a self-destruct button, and will press it at the slightest provocation.
Robert Mercer Spent $1.4 Million On A Giant Urine Stockpile
Billionaire political donor Robert Mercer tends to be reserved and secretive about his actual beliefs, but it's clear that he's very into some bizarre, discredited science. For example, he's a donor to Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, a deceptively named fringe science group that has promoted everything from denial of climate change and vaccines to assertions like "Radiation cures cancer" and "HIV is a fictional disease invented to cover up the deadly effects of gay sex." Mercer personally attended at least one of the group's annual conferences, where he dined with Art Robinson, the guy he pays to stockpile human urine in the remote Siskiyou Mountains.
If you hang out in the same terrifying corners of the internet that we do, you know Art Robinson as a far-right conspiracy theorist who quit his job as a chemistry professor in the '70s and moved into the hills of Oregon to homeschool his kids and prepare for nuclear war. He's best-known for repeatedly running for Congress and having a near-meltdown live on NBC after a host read from his bizarre "scientific" newsletter and asked about the mysterious anonymous group backing his campaign. Spoiler alert: It was Mercer's SuperPac.
Mercer has contributed at least $1.4 million to Robinson's "Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine," which Robinson has used to collect over 14,000 samples of human urine, which he believes hold the secret to revolutionizing medicine. He gathers the samples by mailing out leaflets asking for the recipients to donate. He plans to chemically analyze the samples using a MRI spectrometer and then see if any patterns emerge that might indicate encroaching cancer or heart disease. It's hard to say too much more about the project, because Robinson's "Institute" hasn't published anything in decades. And that was when it was blasting mice with radiation to prove it was safe, so let's bet on the track record here.
Still, Mercer is such a big fan that he recommended Robinson as the Trump administration's top science adviser, although Trump ignored him. Say what you will about Trump and Mercer, but nobody in the cabinet has started screaming about colloidal silver yet, so how close can they really be? We should probably keep an eye on Ben Carson, though.
Abraham would buy an unlimited supply of tacos de suadero if he was a billionaire. You can say hi to him on Twitter here. Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for bits cut from this article and other stuff no one should see.
For more, check out If The Lottery Was Honest - Honest Ads:
Also, we'd love to know more about you and your interesting lives, dear readers. If you spend your days doing cool stuff, drop us a line at iDoCoolStuff at Cracked dot com, and maybe we can share your story with the entire internet.
Follow us on Facebook. It's free.