The Most Unusual, Extravagant Ways Tech Execs Like Elon Musk and Larry Ellison Have Spent Their Money
Elon Musk bought the submarine car from 'The Spy Who Loved Me,' while Jeff Bezos dredged pieces of the Apollo 12 engine from the bottom of the Atlantic.
If you're among the richest people in the world, chances are you've found some unusual ways to spend your money.
That's what tech executives like Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk have done, anyway — they've spent money on everything from a massive chunk of the state of Hawaii to the submarine car from the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me."
Some tech billionaires are famously frugal, while others spend money on more conventional expenditures like mansions or fabulous vacations. And while the tech billionaires featured below own their fair share of homes and yachts — plus found time for more noble pursuits like donating to charity or signing the Giving Pledge — they've also used their billions to pursue passion projects.
Here are some of the more unusual and extravagant ways tech executives have spent their money.
Many CEOs make expensive home and land purchases, but perhaps none more so than Oracle founder Larry Ellison. In 2012, the billionaire purchased 98% of the Hawaiian island Lanai.
Ellison reportedly paid $300 million for the island in 2012. It contains 90,000 acres of land and several resorts, and is home to more than 3,200 residents. Ellison plans to use to land to test environmentally friendly practices like solar power and electric vehicles.
Unsurprisingly, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has an interest in unusual vehicles. In 2013, for example, he bought the Lotus Esprit submarine car that's used in the James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me." Musk paid $920,000 at auction.
"It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater," Musk said in a statement to Jalopnik at the time. "I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has invested $42 million in a mechanical clock that's buried inside a mountain in Texas.
The 10,000-year-clock, as it's called, was created by a group called The Long Now Foundation. It's a 500-foot-tall clock that's powered by thermal cycles and is designed to keep time for millennia.
Bezos has a passion for space, as evidenced by his Blue Origin rocket company. In 2013, the exec also funded an expedition to retrieve the remains of multiple Apollo engines from the bottom of the ocean.
Bezos led a team that sent unmanned robots 14,000 feet down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off of Cape Canaveral, Florida, to gather the engine parts from the Apollo 12 moon mission.
"To bring those pieces up on deck and actually touch them, that brought back for me all those feelings I had when I was 5 years old and watched those missions go to the moon," Bezos said in a video about the expedition, according to the Seattle Times. "If this results in one young explorer, one young adventurer, one young inventor, doing something amazing that helps the world, I'm totally fulfilled."
Google cofounder Sergey Brin has reportedly invested between $100 and $150 million of his own money in building a 600-foot flying airship.
Brin is said to be building the airship, which would be the world's largest aircraft, out of a NASA research center near Mountain View, California.
He reportedly envisions using it to make deliveries for humanitarian missions or as an "air yacht" for friends and family.
Brin's fellow Google cofounder Larry Page is also interested in flying vehicles, though of a slightly different variety: Page funds three different flying car startups.
Page has invested in a two-seater flying taxi called Cora and a flying boat called Flyer, which are both made by electric flight transportation company Kitty Hawk. He's also involved in Opener, a startup that makes a flying vehicle called BlackFly.
It's not clear how much money Page has invested in these projects.
And while many high-powered executives have private planes, Page and Brin one-upped the typical Gulfstream jet. In 2005, they bought a former passenger plane, a Boeing 767-200.
But in true Google fashion, Page and Brin tricked out the inside, adding a dining area, two staterooms with adjacent bathrooms, and multiple seating areas. The jet can hold up to 50 passengers and includes several first-class seats.
Meanwhile, Oracle's Larry Ellison owns a decommissioned Soviet jet fighter, the Mikoyan MiG-29.