Billionaires are basically Bond villains – just look at their spending habits

From building their own cities to plotting to conquer space, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Douw Steyn have a lot in common with movie bad guys

11 August 2019 - 00:07 By
Jeff Bezos is not so different from Bond villain Hugo Drax. Both share the common interest of occupying space.
Jeff Bezos is not so different from Bond villain Hugo Drax. Both share the common interest of occupying space.
Image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Money is like a drug. If you're not careful both will have you chewing a very different type of cud with an unctuous stranger just so you can get a bit more.

It's much harder to overdose on money, but an excess of it does have a strange effect. Once the numbers in your bank account begin to resemble a light year written out in kilometres, it's only a matter of time before your long-dormant Bond villain comes to the surface.

For example, there's Jeff Bezos, right. For all intents and purposes the man's net worth is infinity. He has such a deep pool of money that his recent divorce turned his ex-wife into one of the richest people alive without affecting his place on the rankings.

What does one do when one has that much money burning a hole in one's pocket? Emulate Hugo Drax of course. For those unfamiliar with Bond lore, Drax was the billionaire villain with a space lair who hoped to take a break from Earth for a while with his master race.

While falling happily short of following the more eugenic aspects of Drax's plan, Bezos is more interested in sending humans to space than the average person with debit orders.

His space company, Blue Origin, produces remarkably phallic rockets that will apparently one day make space travel akin to catching an Uber and help facilitate the colonisation of other planets.

One of his other major assets, the Washington Post, puts him squarely in '90s Bond villain Elliot Carver's orbit. Carver wanted to control the world using the media.

From selling recreational flamethrowers to dreaming up 'wizard hats' that'll connect people's brains to computers, Elon Musk spends a fair bit of time doing things that smack of villainy.
From selling recreational flamethrowers to dreaming up 'wizard hats' that'll connect people's brains to computers, Elon Musk spends a fair bit of time doing things that smack of villainy.
Image: Reuters/Bobby Yip

Then there's Bezos's friend and rival, Elon Musk, right.

When not making electric cars that make people famous on Pornhub or pursuing his own space ambitions, Musk seems to spend his time doing a lot of things that smack of villainy.

The latest project he seems to be sinking large chunks of money into involves doing tech wizardry to the brains of humans so that they can communicate directly with computers. In a nutshell, the idea is that you would no longer have to ask Siri questions out loud; with Musk's Neuralink technology she could misunderstand you in the privacy of your own brain. If that doesn't sound like the plot of a new Bond movie, I don't know what does.

And closer to home, there's Douw Steyn.

If you're the type of billionaire who just likes his privacy and wants to live with a curated cluster of like-minded people, then taking a page out of South African billionaire Steyn's book may be more your speed.

He got fed up with living with the riffraff and decided to do something about it. Thus Steyn City was born - a sprawling attempt at suburban Utopia. The idea behind it was to create the kind of self-contained community where everything you'd ever need can be found within its confines. Insulated from the zombies beyond the gates, you get to live out your life in bourgeois heaven.

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If you like the idea of some villainy gadgets but couldn't be bothered to follow through with all that overarching evil plan malarkey, there are a couple of billionaires you could learn a thing or two from.

Russian billionaire and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has a yacht that cost half a billion US dollars (R7.4bn). It has two helipads, a mini submarine, a missile detection system and all the amenities needed to keep three football teams' worth of models happy.

Alternatively, you could go for pimped-out living quarters. Every Bond villain needs a lair and Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani's home fits that bill perfectly. Boasting 27 floors and rumoured to have cost between $1bn and $2bn, it houses only Ambani's family and is said to be the most valuable private residence in the world. It has more than 37,000m² of living space and no two floors are the same in either floor plan or building material.

All this excess may seem in poor taste, but it is understandable. The defining struggle of adulthood is bills and finding the money to pay them. That isn't a process that encourages creativity and childlike ambition. Freed from the stress of running out of money, people return to their dreams of building space fortresses, homes that touch heaven and the hyperloops they had in their childhoods.

These Bond villain mimickers are all just different versions of the inner child we wish we could set free. Sadly, the rest of us have bills to pay so I guess we'll just have to settle for a sparse two-bedroom flat and a reliable car.


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