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.

ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform