Recession, what recession? Super-rich keep on spending

George Osborne might insist that "we are all in this together", but it looks like the super-rich did not get the memo. While the rest of the nation embraces a new age of austerity, the wealthy are snapping up status symbols such as yachts, multi-million pound artworks, private jets and jewels with renewed vigour.

A report published last week found that spending of high net worth individuals – those who have financial assets, not including their home, of more than £500,000 – on luxury collectibles such as cars, boats and jets; sports teams and racehorses, and jewellery and gems has increased. The author of this study, the World Wealth Report 2010, published by Capgemini-Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, pointed out that such "status symbol" purchases allowed people to flaunt their wealth.

Just last week the world's wealthy were splashing the cash at London auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's. Works by Picasso, Van Gogh and Magritte fetched £152.5m at Christie's, while more than £112m was spent at Sotheby's.

"There are probably some people who want to say 'look how rich I am'," said Josh Spero, senior editor at Spear's magazine, which is popular with investors and wealthy individuals.

He said this attitude is not typical of UK millionaires, but more popular among the wealthy in China and Latin America: "Most wealthy people I know are more concerned about maintaining their privacy than about flaunting it. And a lot of people in the UK are still clipping their wings."

His argument is supported by a Barclays Wealth survey of 2,000 high net worth individuals earlier this year, which found that conspicuous consumption was not on the rise in the West: "The concept of wealth commanding respect seems to be diminishing in Europe, whilst in Asia Pacific and Latin America it is considered very important."

While British millionaires remain keen to splash out on expensive toys, they are also putting their money to more altruistic uses. While wealthy individuals in the US gave a smaller proportion of their assets to charity in 2009 than 2008, the donations of European high net worth individuals grew.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living