7 Trophy Investments of Billionaires

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For most entrepreneurs, starting a business is a gut-wrenching, blood, sweat, and tears-draining, 24/7 undertaking. But for those already sporting nine zeroes in their bank accounts, it’s an afterthought, a pet project, a status accessory that serves to confirm the success and fortune they’ve previously amassed. These seven trophy investments have become the beloved possessions of their billionaire mogul owners.

Titanic II

James Cameron’s exploitation, er, homage to the historic maritime tragedy is about to get one-upped. Apparently left wanting from the on-screen experience, eccentric Australian billionaire Clive Palmer will soon be allowing travelers the opportunity to enjoy the Titanic in 3D, without the glasses – or a scuba mask.

The mining magnate is doing the next best thing to resurrecting the shipwreck from the bottom of the Atlantic: He’s rebuilding it from scratch.

Palmer’s new tourism venture Blue Star Line Pty Ltd, with assistance from state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard, will construct a replica that promises to nail all the details, minus those that proved a little death-trappy for the original passengers. The ship should be ready to sail in 2016. “It is going to be designed so it won’t sink,” said Palmer.

Hmm. Where have we heard that before? Really, how authentic is this thing supposed to get?

(Also see: Australian Billionaire Rebuilding the Titanic With China’s Help.) The Electric Barbarellas

All-girl electronic pop groups usually aren’t an octogenarian’s cup of tea. But Sumner Redstone isn’t most octogenarians.

The 89-year-old media tycoon, who serves as CEO of Viacom and is a majority owner in CBS Corporation, was such a fan of the Electric Barbarellas – described as “a cross between the Pussycat Dolls and Spice Girls, except raunchier and not as musically gifted” – that he dreamt up a reality show chronicling their attempted rise to starlettdom and strong-armed MTV into green-lighting it. (The show ran for a single season last year.)

Sumner’s investment in the band, including a half million dollars just to fly the six members to various record label meetings, angered a number of Viacom insiders. His granting of company stock to frontwoman Heather Naylor, who later sold her shares for $157,000, also drew criticism for loosening Viacom’s strict option grants restrictions for his own personal interests. Presidential Campaign

It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes one rich guy to support a presidential candidate.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Super PACs are America’s new reality in the race for President. And thanks to Las Vegas Sands (LVS) CEO Sheldon Adelson, Republican Newt Gingrich got to stay in it a whole lot longer.

The casino tycoon and eighth-richest man in America will go down in history as one of the biggest players in the 2012 election, having contributed $20 million of his $24.9 billion fortune to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC, Winning Our Future. Now, since the former Speaker of the House has dropped his presidential bid, Adelson is reportedly ready to start helping Mitt Romney fill his campaign coffers. Necker Island

Billionaire Richard Branson’s flights of fancy include interstellar space travel, so it’s not much of a stretch to hear that he has a land deed to a tropical paradise. In 1978, at the tender age of 28, while many of us were still paying off our student loans, Branson was buying his own private island. Two years and $10 million later, the uninhabited 74-acre oasis in the British Virgin Islands, called Necker Island, became the Virgin Group founder’s full-service luxury retreat.

Dozens of celebrities own islands – from Johnny Depp to David Copperfield to Pamela Anderson – but what makes Branson’s unique is that we, too, can stroll on its white sandy beaches and swim in its turquoise waters. That’s assuming we have five figures to blow on our next vacation. Individual villas on Necker Island start at $26,850 for a seven-night stay. Or you can rent out the whole place (which can accommodate 28 guests) for $42,500 per night. Not too bad if everyone chips in.

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