Craziest Purchases of Billionaire Bill Gates
If you woke up tomorrow and found out you won the lottery, you would probably go on a bit of a spending spree, right? Dream car, check. Dream home, check. Luxury vacation, check. Those are obvious buys, but what about less obvious purchases that are custom made for your own personal tastes? (Fully stocked library or wine cellar, anyone?)
Of course, some lucky members of society don’t have to wait to win the lottery to buy all the things their hearts desire. Tech genius billionaire Bill Gates is one of those people. Ever wondered how a man with such a creative mind spends his fortune? Some purchases are sure to surprise you. Take a look!
The Source of All That Dough
We've heard Bill Gates’ name everywhere, and most of us use his key invention daily, but maybe adding a few details to the billionaire's story wouldn't be amiss. The Seattle-born-and-raised tech giant founded Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen back in 1975, and his success just continued to snowball from there.
He held a lot of different positions in Microsoft over the years before finally stepping back. Even after retiring from the company, money isn't something he will ever need to worry about. He has a net worth of about $108.8 billion, and he has investments and stocks in companies all over the world. He’s also known as one of the most philanthropic people in the world.
The Giving Pledge
With presidential candidate Tom Steyer talking about his signing of The Giving Pledge, it may be worth mentioning that Bill Gates was a founding member of the campaign back in 2010. The Giving Pledge is a campaign that encourages the wealthiest people to donate the majority of their wealth instead of hoarding it for themselves and their descendants.
Gates seems pretty on-point in terms of his charity work. Along with his wife Melinda, he donates a significant portion of his money every year. He is worth so much that he still has a fortune available to spend on himself and his family.
Fleet of Cars
Just like any other car enthusiast, Bill Gates has used some of his massive fortune to invest in a fleet of sports cars. Everyone has a favorite hobby, right? Gates simply has the resources to indulge in his a little more than the rest of us.
His fleet includes a lineup of famous cars, including a Porsche 911, a Ferrari 348, a Jaguar XJ6 and several others. Together, the cars are estimated to be worth $650,000. He has owned other vehicles over the years but has sold many of them.
Exotic Tropical Island
Who wouldn't want their own private island? When you're a billionaire like Bill Gates, you could actually own one. It had to be great for family vacations when he needed a break from the work that earned his fortune, and it definitely gives him some bragging rights. Not many people can say they own an island, after all.
The island Gates owns is called Grand Bogue Caye in Belize, and it's valued at around $25 million. Most of us would never be able to afford something like that in our lives. For Bill Gates, it's practically pocket change.
Seattle Luxury Home
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Gates decided long ago to establish his primary residence in the area as well as make it the central location for Microsoft. He purchased his home in Medina many years ago, and it has been updated to suit the tastes of a billionaire.
The home is estimated to be worth around $80 million and is absolutely massive, coming in at about 66,000 square feet. In addition to the usual rooms you would expect to find in a home, Gates' house has a 2,300-square-foot reception hall — complete with a huge fireplace — that can accommodate 200 guests.
Florida Equestrian Home
Washington may be his primary residence, but that doesn't stop Gates from having houses in other parts of the world. One of his daughters, Jennifer, is an avid equestrian. To support her passion, he purchased an equestrian estate in Florida — her siblings probably enjoy it too — valued at about $55 million.
He's done a lot of renovations to the property, and the results are gorgeous. Although he doesn't spend most of his time there, his daughter has certainly gotten a lot of use out of it over the years.
Okay, so he doesn't really have "magic" walls, but it’s about as close as you can get with modern technology. Most of the art that hangs on the walls of his home can be changed with the touch of a button, alternating between modern art and classic works.
As long as you have a device with your favorite painting on it, you can upload the image to the screens that cover his walls to change the artwork being displayed. There’s no need to redecorate his whole house. He can just change all the artwork to create a totally new look.
No billionaire's mansion would be complete without an entire room dedicated to a massive trampoline, right? Well, Bill Gates certainly seems to think so. People aren't entirely sure exactly how large the trampoline is, but if Gates' other toys are any indication, we can assume it's pretty big.
He has said in interviews that his three children absolutely adore the trampoline room. They might be adults now — or close to it — but their childhood memories of the room will surely last with them forever. But who says adults can't play on trampolines, anyway?
To enjoy the latest musicals and movies, Gates has his own home theater room. If mere mortals can set up personal theaters in their homes, it's an easy feat for a billionaire. Of course, his room is a little different than the type of home theater most of us might hope to have in our own homes.
First, his theater boasts an Art Deco style. He also has his own popcorn machine — a necessity in any dream theater. It's a little bigger than a simple room as well. It comfortably seats about 20 guests in cushy comfort. Hello, movie night!
Winslow Homer Painting
Winslow Homer — no relation to the Greek storyteller — was an American painter in the mid- and late-19th century. He was mostly self taught, although he did study under a master for a year. He spent some time on the fronts of the Civil War sketching scenes of battles as well as calmer scenes of the soldiers' lives. He also painted many landscapes.
The painting that Gates owns, "Lost on the Grand Banks" (purchased for $36 million), is one of Homer's many maritime paintings. It depicts the life of North Atlantic fishermen.
When a busy bee billionaire like Bill (okay, we'll stop) needs to get somewhere fast, he doesn't take regular transportation. Whether he drives one of his Porsches to get to the airport is unclear, but it’s definitely clear that he owns his very own private jet.
His Bombardier BD-700 Global Express doesn’t come cheap, either. It's valued at $19.5 million, and that's not even counting annual fuel costs. Who wouldn’t love to have a plane ready to jet across the world at a moment’s notice? Gates has actually made that dream a reality.
Huge Swimming Pool
Ask any toddler, child, teenager or adult, and they will tell you that it’s essential for their dream house to include a swimming pool. Gates is no different, and he fulfilled the internationally shared dream by having one within his very own home. It's not just any pool, however.
Gates' pool is in its very own building — about 3,900 square feet — and it has its own underwater music system. We're not sure why a regular music system wasn't good enough for the billionaire — or how much time he spends underwater — but, hey, if you can afford it, why not show off a bit?
A personal library is yet another universal childhood dream for many. Bill Gates has fulfilled that dream as well, with a massive library inside his Seattle home. According to various sources, the library is around 2,100 square feet and has a Great Gatsby quote written on the ceiling.
In addition to all that, it has secret bookcases and secret staircases, one of which reportedly leads to a secret bar. This sounds like exactly the kind of magical, cozy library a billionaire needs to unwind after a long day at work. We wouldn't mind giving it a try!
Gates might not own the "Mona Lisa," but he does own one Da Vinci piece: the Codex Leicester. It's a manuscript from the 16th century that contains notes and general scientific writings by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. (His ideas on plate tectonics and reasons the moon isn’t as bright as the sun pre-date the proven science by hundreds of years.)
For science, history and art enthusiasts alike, this manuscript is a dream come true for a science geek. Gates was able to make his dream a reality in 1994 when he bought the book for a little more than $30 million.
Private Beach and Stream...Sort Of
At Gates' property in Washington, he has created an artificial stream that is kept stocked with salmon and trout. Just think of it as a little something to add to a house that is already nestled on waterfront property and surrounded by nature on all sides.
His property does have an actual beachfront, but rather than deal with the Seattle sand — more small pebbles than silky grains — he supposedly imported smooth sand from St. Lucia and spread it across the beach. After all, if you could create a more perfect beach in your backyard, wouldn't you do it?
George Bellows Painting
George Bellows was an American painter who was famous in the early 20th century for depicting urban scenes, mostly of New York, as well as for the way many of his paintings made social commentaries on the upper class and the daily themes of living in the city in general. Many of his paintings are displayed in museums — but not all of them.
At an auction, Bill Gates purchased one of Bellows' paintings, "Polo Crowd," for around $28 million. It's now one of the few real pieces of artwork hanging on his walls.
To house his fleet of collector cars as well as the cars of any guests who come to stay, Gates has built a lot of garages on his Seattle property. Each one was designed specifically to look beautiful, of course, but one particularly interesting garage looks a little broken.
Made out of concrete that has been broken in some places, this garage was designed to look that way on purpose to give it a "deconstructed" look. It was definitely an interesting choice for a tech billionaire. Regardless of the design, it can still hold up to 10 cars.
Over the years, Gates has made a lot of investments in a lot of different businesses and markets. One market that might seem a little surprising is the hospitality market, he owns or co-owns several different hotels around the world. Through his personal investment firm, for example, he apparently owns almost half of the Four Seasons hotel chain.
Additionally, he reportedly co-owns the Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco, along with several other unknown buyers. Hotels might seem an odd market for a tech guy to invest in, but Gates seems to know exactly how to make it work.
Foundation to Close the Education Gap
While Bill Gates doesn’t hesitate to spend on himself and his family, he has already stated he will only be leaving his children $10 million each in his will. He and Melinda are huge philanthropists, and one of their many priorities over the years has been education.
Through their main foundation, the couple has created the Gates Millennium Scholars Program to help African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students pursue undergraduate education. The foundation has received about $1.6 billion from the Gates.
Sweet Exercise Room
If we're being honest, exercising isn't something most of us are excited about doing. Maybe that opinion would change if we could work out in the exercise rooms Bill Gates has at his Seattle home. Let’s just say "nice" is an understatement.
In addition to the regular workout rooms with plenty of equipment for all the house guests, the area has a sauna and a steam room. Yeah, we didn't know those are two different things, either, but apparently billionaires know differently. It’s also equipped with two locker rooms, one for men and one for women.
Various Vehicle Investments
Being a tech giant just wasn't enough for Bill Gates, apparently, so he invested in a lot of other industries as well. In some cases, those markets make sense, but sometimes the inspiration seems to come from out of left field.
He has, for example, more than $680 million invested in AutoNation, the national vehicle retailer. According to other sources, he has invested in John Deere tractor company as well, although the exact amount he invested is unknown. When you have billions to spend, it's easy to dabble in as many industries and as many companies as you want.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill and Melinda Gates focus a lot of their time and energy on charity work, especially now that he has stepped back from most official roles within his company. They have even been named the most generous philanthropists in the United States. Their foundation was established in 2000 and has more than $46 billion in assets.
The couple has donated more than $36 billion to various charities via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Based in Seattle, the foundation focuses on everything from healthcare and education to reducing poverty and increasing access to information technology.
If a massive Washington mansion and an equestrian estate in Florida aren’t enough to impress you, Gates has property holdings elsewhere as well. One of them is a ranch located in California. He also had a second ranch in Wyoming, but he sold it. The California ranch sits on 228 acres and was bought for a mere $18 million.
The ranch reportedly includes five barns as well as a racetrack and an orchard. It sounds like an ideal spot for getting away from Seattle during the colder months. California is a great spot for enjoying the sun and the outdoors virtually year-round.
Investments in Cleaning (In More Ways Than One)
Gates has invested in even more niche — and sometimes bizarre — markets than most of us realize. He may be a tech giant with an education and healthcare philanthropic streak, but he still has stocks in a lot of weird places.
One of his stranger investments is Ecolab, a cleaning supply company where he has reportedly invested nearly $2 billion. According to the same source, he has also invested more than $2 billion in Republic Services, a waste collection company. He seems to have an interest in keeping things clean by tackling the industry from a few different sides.
Possible to Spend It All?
A lot of people have asked whether Bill Gates could possibly spend his billions, and several have even calculated an answer. Currently, his estimated worth is nearly $109 billion — that would be a lot of money to spend. Some financial experts have determined that if he were to spend $1 million every single day, it would take him 245 years to spend all that money.
That's a lot of cars and islands to buy. On the other hand, if giving away his billions in giant chunks counts as "spending," he could certainly get rid of his fortune in record time.
Gates is a team player who works well with others, partially because he enjoys doing it. He has invested a lot on his own, but he also makes investments and branches out to work on projects with other people. In 2015, for example, he founded Breakthrough Energy with more than 20 other entrepreneurs.
The group focuses on investing money in renewable energy sources, like solar energy and wind power, to bolster the government funding of those energies. Gates apparently gave around $2 billion to the project himself and brought together wealthy people from around the world to help contribute.
Amyris is another company that Gates has given some money to over the years. Originally, he invested via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a purpose to help fund the company in its journey to create lower-cost technologies for making the compounds used in anti-malaria drug treatments.
The company has taken a slightly different road in the years since the original investment was made and now focuses on health by creating sustainable ingredients for fragrances, skincare and other health and beauty products. As of 2016, the Gates Foundation still donated to Amyris for its work related to anti-malaria drug treatments.
Bill Gates obviously doesn't "own" Alzheimer's research, but he has put an awful lot of money into it over the years. Just in 2017, for example, he invested $50 million into research for the disease. He kept up the pattern and recently invested around $30 million — along with other investors — in something called the Diagnostics Accelerator, a fund to help diagnose Alzheimer's earlier than ever before.
If billionaires like Gates keep donating such vast amounts to Alzheimer's research, it could dramatically increase the likelihood of improving outcomes in the next decade. The hope is that one day we will be able to prevent the disease and perhaps even cure it.
One thing Gates doesn't own is a superyacht, but that's not a problem. He can always rent one, and he has been known to do exactly that. On one notable occasion, he treated his whole family to a lovely vacation in the Mediterranean on board a superyacht that he reportedly chartered for $5 million per week.
The yacht's name is Serene, and it's one of the largest private superyachts in the world. It even includes its own helicopter — you know, just in case a private yacht on the high seas isn't quite enough luxury for your vacation. Anyone can charter it — as long as you have a few million to spare.
Tech geniuses can have a soft spot for nature too. Rumor has it Gates has a soft spot for one piece of nature in particular: a maple tree on his property in Washington. He has supposedly taken the tree under his wing, using technology to make sure it's properly taken care of at all times.
The tree apparently grows close to his driveway, and Gates reportedly has it monitored on a computer. For example, if the soil is determined to be too dry, water is automatically pumped to the tree.