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30 Strange and Expensive Celeb Purchases

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Trump Boeing 757
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Money Well Spent

Most everyone has fantasized about being rich, but few ever find out how they'd actually spend the money. Priorities can get a little skewed, it turns out, leading some celebrities and tycoons to make purchases that seem unjustifiable from a more middle-class perspective. (Others remain steadfastly cheap, it should be said.) The most bafflingly expensive celebrity purchases are at once infuriating for their unchecked opulence and oddly comforting, reminding that even the richest among us still don't know what they want.

Street scene of the Braselton Historic District
Street scene of the Braselton Historic District by Chris Pruitt (CC BY-SA)

An Entire Town — Kim Basinger

In 1989, the same year she starred opposite Michael Keaton in "Batman," Kim Basinger paid $20 million to buy 1,600 acres of Braselton — virtually the entire town — in her home state of Georgia. Basinger, then 34, wanted to turn the rural farm town into a tourist attraction and film studio, but ended up selling the property as part of her 1995 bankruptcy.

Related: 22 of the Smallest Towns in America

T-Rex Dinosaur Skull

A Dinosaur Skull — Nicolas Cage

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicolas Cage had their eye on a 67 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar skull, but only one of them shelled out more than $270,000 at auction for it — in other words, a typical day in Hollywood. While DiCaprio's been famed for high living since his teen heartthrob days, Cage has made far more verifiably extravagant purchases, as intense in his spending habits as he is in his acting. In 2015, Cage agreed to return the skull to Mongolia after an attorney determined it was stolen.

Related: 12 Eccentric Projects of the Super-Rich

LaLaurie House
A recreation of the Miura P400 Jota
A recreation of the Miura P400 Jota by Tony Harrison (CC BY-SA)

The Shah Of Iran's Lamborghini — Nicolas Cage

In a 1997 auction taking place in Switzerland, Cage bought the late Shah of Iran's red Lamborghini Miura SVJ for $450,000, bidding by telephone. Cage's other extravagant purchases, as outlined by his former business manager in a 2009 court case, included another 22 cars, three homes, and 47 pieces of "artwork and exotic items," all in the same year as that Tyrannosaurus skull.

Related: 12 Cars That Cost More Than $1 Million

Paris Hilton with dogs
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air conditioner ceiling

A $2 Million Humidifier — Celine Dion

Included in Celine Dion's $100 million deal to perform a three-year residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was the installation of a $2 million humidifier on the stage. The misting device hung above her head during performances, reportedly to "preserve her singing voice in the harsh desert climate."

Related: 10 Cheap Ways to Keep Your Skin Healthy This Winter

Tamara Ecclestone
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A $1.5 Million Crystal Bathtub — Tamara Ecclestone

What is it about bathtubs certain rich people love so much? For example, Tamara Ecclestone, the daughter of British billionaire Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, paid 1 million pounds (about $1.3 million) for a bathtub made of crystal. She affirmed in an interview with the Daily Mail that employees had been sent "up the Amazon" to gather the crystal for the bathtub, at the same time insisting she had a "grounded" attitude toward money and had been "raised to want to work for a living."

Related: 42 Incredible Hot Tubs Around the World

A $2.2 Million Gold Bathtub — Mike Tyson
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A $2.2 Million Gold Bathtub — Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson went even flashier with his bathing choice, spending $2 million on a 24-karat gold bathtub for his first wife Robin Givens. Despite an income exceeding $300 million in his 20-year boxing career, this was part of a pattern of overspending that drove Tyson to file for bankruptcy in 2003, when he was $23 million in debt.

Related: Home Improvement and Decor Trends for 2021

A Gold iPhone
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A Gold iPhone — Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham — formerly Posh Spice — paid $33,000 for a Stuart Hughes-designed iPhone made with 150 grams of 24-karat gold. When she was first glimpsed with the flashy phone in 2011, British tabloids speculated it was a present from her soccer star husband, David Beckham, but a rep explained, "She's had the phone for ages. Nothing new." One wonders how much was spent on the upgrade.

Related: The Most Surprising Items Found in Celebrity Swag Bags

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An Entire Hawaiian Island — Larry Ellison

An Entire Hawaiian Island — Larry Ellison

In 2012, Silicon Valley tech billionaire Larry Ellison bought 98% of the sparsely inhabited Hawaiian island of Lanai from Dole Food billionaire David Murdock, a deal valued at more than $500 million. The Oracle founder was then the third-wealthiest American, with a net worth of $36 billion, some of which he's also spent on a $200 million yacht and additional trophy properties in Malibu, Lake Tahoe, Rancho Mirage, and elsewhere.

Related: Off-Limits Destinations That Could Reopen to Tourists (and Some That Already Have)

Trump Boeing 757
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A $100 Million Private Jet — Donald Trump

In 2011, as a New York real estate and reality TV personality, Donald Trump bought Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's private Boeing 757 for $100 million. He spent an untold amount emblazoning his family name on the plane and installing gold fixtures everywhere, including for the bathroom sink and seatbelts. 

Related: 25 Surprisingly Expensive Products From Costco

Da Vinci's Journal — Bill Gates
Wikimedia Commons

Da Vinci's Journal — Bill Gates

In 1994, Microsoft's other co-founder bought the Codex Leicester, the most famous of 30 surviving journals by Renaissance artist and thinker Leonardo da Vinci. Gates paid $31 million for the document, making it the most expensive book ever sold, then had the notebook digitally scanned and made available on CD-ROM for less than $30.

Related: 25 Rare Collectibles Worth More Than Your House


A Shark Suspended In Formaldehyde — Steven Cohen

Hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, worth $13 billion, is responsible for buying the second most expensive painting ever sold ($137.5 million for Willem de Kooning's "Woman III"), but that's not as strange as the $8 million (or was it $12 million?) he spent to acquire artist Damien Hirst's shark suspended in formaldehyde.

Related: Spectacular Outdoor Art You Can See for Free

2016 MTV Video Music Awards Blue Ivy and Beyonce
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An $11,000 Dress ... For A 4-Year-Old — Beyoncé And Jay-Z

Beyonce and Jay-Z's daughter Blue Ivy wore a gold-flecked gown worth $10,950 to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, which seems outrageous for a 4-year-old yet frugal compared with some other celebrities' awards season wardrobes. Even before she was born, Blue Ivy became the recipient of dozens of luxe baby shower gifts, including — wouldn't you know it? — a $5,200 crystal-studded bathtub.

Related: 20 Outrageously Expensive Celebrity Purchases

Beyonce, Jay Z, Blue Ivy
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A Diamond Mine — Akon

A Diamond Mine — Akon

Many hip-hop stars like to boast about bling, but few have taken it as far as R&B singer Akon, who, it was revealed in 2007, owns his own diamond mine in South Africa. While at the time he denied diamond mining's troubled history, saying "that's just a movie," Akon has since reversed and accepted the existence of blood diamonds while saying he donates profits from his mine to local communities.

Related: 27 Times Companies Tried to Trick Consumers

A First-Class Plane Ticket for a Hat — Bono
Frederic Legrand - COMEO/shutterstock

A First-Class Plane Ticket for a Hat — Bono

A self-described "spoiled rock star," U2 frontman Bono once forgot his favorite hat in going to Italy, so he paid $1,500 in 2003 to have his beloved headwear flown first-class from London. The hat was reportedly even upgraded to the pilot's chambers to keep from being crushed.

Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles
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Kabbalah Water — Madonna

The Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles is a religious teaching center, based in Judaism but widely condemned by other adherents and best known for attracting (or preying on) wealthy celebrity clients — none more famously than Madonna. In Touch Weekly reported in 2008 that the pop singer spent upward of $10,000 a month making sure she and her family drank only specially blessed Kabbalah water costing $5 per bottle.

Related: How the Rich and Famous Continue to Travel and Party During the Pandemic

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
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Gold-Plated Toilets — Kanye West

There are plenty of places a frugal observer might take issue with the opulent estate celebrity couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian bought for $11 million in 2013, but none more so than the $750,000 gold-plated toilets. They listed the home just two years later for $20 million.

Related: 20 Unique Bathrooms Every Tourist Should Check Out


Sonogram Machine — Tom Cruise

In 2005, during the height of his Katie Holmes infatuation-slash-meltdown, Tom Cruise bought his pregnant then-girlfriend an ultrasound machine, devices that range in price from $15,000 to $200,000. Cruise said medical technicians were teaching him and Holmes to use the device to monitor her pregnancy from the comfort of home — something obstetricians and other experts strongly advise against — and that after the birth they'd donate it to a hospital.

Related: 20 Over-the-Top Marriage Proposals

 miniature horse

A Taxidermied Miniature Horse — Amanda Seyfried

Actress Amanda Seyfried is big into taxidermy, so much so that while promoting her film "Red Riding Hood" in England, she bought a stuffed 3-week-old miniature horse likely costing several thousand dollars. "I love good taxidermy, it's like art," she explained to press at the time. "A lot of people think it's weird, but I don't know why."

Related: The Weirdest Reasons People Have Gone Into Debt

Johnny Depp
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Five Penthouses Right Next to Each Other — Johnny Depp

In 2017, Johnny Depp's former business managers alleged the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star's absurdly extravagant lifestyle cost him $2 million a month, going toward everything from security staff and internationally imported bottles of wine to collectible guitars and movie memorabilia. From 2007-2008, Depp owned five penthouses in L.A.'s Eastern Columbia Building at the same time, which he tried to turn into a master suite before listing them for a combined price of $12.8 million.

Related: 29 of the Most Expensive Celebrity Homes of All Time

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A Nazi Motorbike — Brad Pitt

In "Inglourious Basterds," Brad Pitt used a knife to brand Nazis; in real life, he spent $385,000 to buy one of their antiques. In 2015, the actor bought a three-wheeled German motorbike used for reconnaissance missions in Greece, part of a reported passion for World War II relics that also led Pitt to star in "Basterds" and, more recently, "Fury."

A Diamond-Studded RC Car — The Game

A Diamond-Studded RC Car — The Game

The Game's son said he wanted a Bentley GT like his dad's when he grew up, so his rapper father got him the next best thing: a toy version covered in almost $100,000 worth of diamonds. In tweeting about the gift, The Game anticipated his haters, saying his kid's "college tuitions & trust funds are already paid up ... Just so u know before yo mad ass get to talkin bout what I 'SHOULDA' done wit my money."

polar bear
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A Diamond-Encrusted iPod — Floyd Mayweather

Not to be outdone, Floyd "Money" Mayweather has made some splashy purchases of his own, including a $50,000 iPod classic encrusted with diamonds. He was still using the old device for his tunes leading up to the McGregor fight, saying he preferred it to newer models that didn't allow him to adhere as many jewels.

Related: 27 Big Celebrities Who've Had Tax Trouble

private island

Three Bentleys — Shaquille O'Neal

In what's surely one of the most entertaining tales of celebrity opulence, former NBA star and announcer Shaquille O'Neal related in 2012 how he came to buy three Bentleys all at once on a whim: "I had on some shorts and a tank top and flip-flops, and I said to the salesman, 'Sir, how much does this one cost?' He said, 'Can you afford it, sonny boy?' I was so upset that I bought three Bentleys right there on the spot." The 7-foot-1-inch athlete soon discovered he was too tall to fit in the driver's seats. "A million dollars gone in 10 minutes."

Related: 12 Gas Guzzlers We're Ashamed to Admit We Still Want

1951 M-47 Patton
Wikimedia Commons

A Tank — Arnold Schwarzenegger

It should surprise absolutely no one that former "Terminator" and governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger owns his own tank, a 1951 M-47 Patton he actually drove during his compulsory service in the Austrian National Army in 1965. The 50-ton military vehicle's price tag was a lot more reasonable than you might think — free, but for the $20,000 it cost to ship it to the U.S., where Schwarzenegger now uses joyrides in it as an incentive for kids to stay in school.

Related: Which Celebrities Besides Tom Hanks Have Dual Citizenship?