Sarah Buitendach Editor: Wanted and FM lifestyle
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Picture: REUTERS
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Picture: REUTERS

Since the wretched virus struck, most of us have been on a crash course in belt tightening so swift and unforgiving that shortly the blood supply to our lower halves might cease entirely.

From business-class tickets to suddenly worrying about school fees, so are the days of our lives. Unless, of course, you are one of the handful of über-rich types who’ve actually got wealthier during this global crisis.

Last week Forbes reported on a bunch of chaps (and one gal) who’re raking in the bucks during these heady days of disaster. And we do mean bucks.

First, there’s Jeff Bezos, wealthiest man in the world, who is more than $50bn richer than he was in February. His ex-wife MacKenzie’s net worth has gone from $54bn to $56bn in a week. Big thanks to Amazon shares, all round of course.

Other winners include Tencent chair Ma Huateng, whose fortunes are up by $3.4bn in the week, and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, who’s $1.7bn richer. (Read the full list on Forbes.)

If anything should make you feel unwell (itchy throat? vanishing sense of smell?), it’s this. Whether it be from envy or repulsion. Just think what you could do with just one of those billions.

If, bizarrely, you are at a loss as to how to answer that, might I suggest you gather all of your closest friends, hop on your Gulfstream and decamp to Fiji, which is, as luck would have it, Covid-free.

The South Pacific archipelago is offering its services as an island getaway for the most elite. With a couple of caveats, of course. As Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama put it: “Say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process. If you’ve taken all the necessary health precautions and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise.”

Covid-19 has administered a brutal gut punch to the island nation – especially as tourism is a critical money-maker there. In fact, as this Guardian piece explains, “40% of Fiji’s GDP is generated by international tourism – and while the country has, so far, escaped the feared coronavirus health crisis, the shutting of international borders has paralysed the economy and devastated household incomes”.

So, to do your bit for the cause, you need to have a plane to get there, or a yacht. Then, once you arrive, you hop on a sea plane and head to your own island. Think it’s outlandish? Easy, Tiger – apparently there’s a group of 30 high net worth individuals already booked and swinging by shortly.

Going to ground

Of course, you’ll also have to spend some of your billions on a bunker – utterly de rigueur with the who’s who, don’t you know. In case you missed Vanity Fair weighing in on the subject early on in the crisis, here’s their story. Escape lairs aren’t just the stuff of Bond films; they exist and include converted air force missile silos in rural Kansas.

This offering includes “aquaculture, movie theatre, dog park, rock-climbing wall, 50,000-gallon pool, spa, even ex-Green Berets and Navy Seals for security –and a water park”. You’re looking at between $1.5m and $3m, depending on the size of panic pad you choose.

And, finally, if these ideas sound passé – or a little out of your ballpark – check out the catalogue for the next virtual Strauss & Co auction, which kicks off on July 26. It’s of modern, postwar and contemporary art, and SA fine wines, and well worth a gander.

Even your underground escape needs a couple of Kentridges and Villas, after all.

*Buitendach is the FM's Life editor and editor of Wanted magazine.

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