They travel by private aircraft, own collections of priceless art and reside in mansions. They’re the richest of the rich — the 25 wealthiest people in the world, as ranked by Forbes. They live in a world most of us probably can’t even imagine.
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But when it comes to hobbies, a few of them are just like us. While some of the world’s billionaires spend handsomely on their passions, others just need a good book, a deck of cards or a gym membership to unwind away from the office. Here’s a look at how 10 of the wealthiest people spend their precious free time.
Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, has inexpensive hobbies, except for travel to faraway places. He reads a book a week, plays bridge and likes to engage in a game of The Settlers of Catan — now just called Catan. He’s an avid tennis player, even taking part in a fund-raising match with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer as his doubles partner in 2017.
In August, in a post on his GatesNotes blog, the billionaire confessed to his latest passion: Wordle.
“Unlike some time sinks, Wordle and the other puzzles are a great way to stay connected with people, because they’re the same for everyone,” he wrote. “Every day you can ask your fellow Wordle fans, ‘Are you ready to discuss it? If you haven’t done it, I’m not going to say a thing, because I could spoil it just by telling you one word was especially easy or hard.’ And by seeing who sends out their scores first, we know who got up earlier and who maybe stayed up too late the night before.”
Imagine being at a charity dinner and seeing Warren Buffett pull out his ukulele and sing a tune for you. It’s been known to happen, including the time he joined Jon Bon Jovi in a duet of “The Glory of Love.” He reportedly started playing in college so that he could serenade a young lady to impress her and hasn’t put down the instrument since, performing multiple times at annual stockholder meetings of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, and in television appearances.
He also plays bridge, often with Gates. The two competed online through the pandemic. A 2020 CNBC report said Buffett plays about eight hours a week, giving him an edge against Gates.
“I probably play 100 times as often as Bill, so that probably is the only game in the world where I would have a slight edge with him,” Buffett said.
For Larry Ellison, the co-founder of software giant Oracle, his second home is the water. A sailing enthusiast, he took up the sport as a young man and later began a serious racing career on his 78-foot yacht, Sayonara, winning five Maxi World Championships. He twice won the prestigious America’s Cup (2010 and 2013) and has focused on creating more opportunities for sailors and incorporating technological innovations into sailing.
In 201, Ellison formed the SailGP international racing series, which he has vowed to fund for five years as it moves toward self-support. In October 2022, Ellison was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
“I was passionate about sailing and the idea of sailing … the idyllic independence … traveling with the wind,” Ellison said about the sport, according to the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
Mark Zuckerberg’s hobbies take him outside of his Silicon Valley offices and into the water and the ring. Zuckerberg, the founder, chairman and CEO of Meta, which he founded as Facebook in 2004, is an avid surfer, has hunted for wild boar and, more recently, has started participating in mixed martial arts. He has said he enjoys surfing to start the day before the work stresses creep in, and he recently has shared photos on social media of his MMA workouts.
“I’ve always loved sports and just being active. I like problems you can solve intellectually, but I also just think managing your energy and kind of being out there, being physical, it just has always been a really important part of my life,” he said on The Tim Ferriss Show earlier this year.
Alice Walton’s interest in art started long before her father, Sam Walton, founded Walmart. As a child, Alice and her mother painted scenes from the Ozarks with watercolors, and Alice developed a passion for art. Forbes reported she began her art collection at age 11 and spent 25 cents on a print of Picasso’s “Blue Nude.” Hoping to inspire others, she opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011, providing her personal collection as a start.
“Our country’s significant works of art should be available for all to see and enjoy,” Walton said.
Europe’s wealthiest man, Bernard Arnault, runs LVMH, the parent company of some of the world’s swankiest fashion, cosmetics, and wine and spirits brands — think Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Fendi, Christian Dior and Moët & Chandon. An art lover like Alice Walton, he holds one of the world’s most valuable art collections.
Arnault’s personal collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Yves Klein and Henry Moore, The Collector reported. In 2014, the Fondation Louis Vuitton opened a museum in Paris to make art and culture available to everyone to enjoy, with Arnault calling it a “new space that opens up a dialogue with a wide public and offers artists and intellectuals a platform for debate and reflection.”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has more extreme interests than, say, golf. How about dog sledding in Norway while on vacation in 2018? That can’t top how he spent his spare time in 2013 when Bezos was part of a crew that spent three weeks off the Florida coast, working about 3 miles below the ocean’s surface, looking for the debris left by Apollo 11 upon its reentry to Earth in 1969.
“What an incredible adventure,” Bezos wrote on his blog at the time. “We found so much. We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”
With a net worth of about $87 billion, Mukesh Ambani can afford his expensive hobby: collecting luxury cars. The second-richest man in India, according to Forbes, Ambani is the chairman of Reliance Industries, a diversified giant with holdings in oil and gas, telecommunications, petrochemicals and retail.
The Richest reported that Ambani’s $2.2 billion home has 400,000 square feet and plenty of space to park his car collection, which numbers about 170 and is worth millions. Among the cars in the collection: a Rolls Royce Phantom VIII EWB, worth $1.8 million; a Ferrari 812 Superfast that can reach 211 mph; and a Mercedes S600 W211 Guard, valued at $1.5 million, that can protect Ambani and family from steel bullets and blasts of TNT, per The Richest. He has at least one Lamborghini, an Aston Martin and a Bentley sprinkled in, too.
Google co-founder Larry Page has hobbies that keep him on the water and in the air. He’s been known to kiteboard and also co-owns a fleet of aircraft, including a Boeing 767, according to Forbes. To serve their needs, Page and partners paid $82 million to build a private terminal at San Jose International Airport, The Richest reported.
Perhaps he is in the market for a yacht, too. Page, worth about $84 billion as of late October, reportedly sold his $45 million superyacht, called Senses, last year.
Retired Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer revealed in a 2017 interview just how much time he spent playing golf, belonging to seven golf clubs in the United States and taking frequent golf trips with pals to foreign locations.
“I play and I have fun,” he said. “It’s my guilty pleasure.”
But he has an even more expensive hobby: sports team ownership. In 2014, he bought the Los Angeles Clippers, and in September, Forbes declared him the wealthiest team owner in pro sports for the eighth consecutive year. Ballmer isn’t the only man among the 25 richest people in the world to own a sports franchise. Rob Walton, another of Sam Walton’s children, joined the fraternity this summer when his ownership group bought the Denver Broncos for a record price of $4.65 billion.
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