World’s super-rich up spending on luxury assets despite squeeze on wealth

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The population of super-rich individuals may be shrinking, but it seems the world’s wealthiest are still finding the cash to splash out on luxuries like classic cars and jewellery.

The number of ultra-high net worth individuals – those with assets of more than $30 million (£21.4 million) excluding their main property – has fallen by 3%, according to data provided by New World Wealth for the Knight Frank Wealth Report.

Its the first fall in seven years and means there are now 187,500 super-rich individuals globally, down from 193,100 in 2014.

Despite the downward shift, blamed on slower economic growth and a more volatile financial climate,  spending on luxury items is on the up.

In fact, the value of the overall Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) rose by 7% during 2015.

The 10 collectable assets the super-rich are investing in:








Chinese ceramics

Coloured diamonds


Classic cars, with a rise of 17%, were the top performer in the index, which tracks the price growth of 10 luxury investments sectors. 

Wine and luxury watches both increased by 5%, while jewellery saw a rise of 4%.

The report also showed the super wealthy are still in pursuit of the world’s “most desirable objects”. A Hong Kong businessman paid the top price ever achieved for a piece of jewellery – the Blue Moon diamond – in 2015. 

A string of other auctions throughout the year kept luxury investments in the spotlight.

“Although no classic car managed to beat the record set by Bonhams in 2014 when it auctioned a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta for $38 million, eight of the 25 cars ever to have sold for over $10 millon at auction went under the hammer in 2015,” said Andrew Shirley, editor of the Wealth Report.

“Even furniture, which has performed poorly over the last decade, secured a new high for a living maker when a Marc Newson Lockheed Lounge sofa was sold in April for £2.4 million by Phillips,” he added.

The art index rose by 4% as last year saw more records broken in the modern art world.

Picasso’s Women of Algiers notched up a new record for a painting sold at auction after making over $179 million, while Reclining Nude by Modigliani was not far behind, going under the hammer for $170 million to a buyer from Shanghai.

Other global luxury spending trends include the continued growth in sales of super-yachts, with a 40% increase in sales.

The data follows the publication of Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world for 2016.

The world’s 1,810 billionaires have lost a total of $570 billion in a year and the combined wealth of this year’s billionaires was put at $6.48 trillion, down from $7.05 trillion last year. 

The number of billionaires has fallen from a record 1,825 last to 1,810 in 2015.

Only Bill Gates, who has topped the list for the last 22 years with a fortune now worth $75 billion, and Warren Buffet, the third richest man of the planet with $60.8 billion, managed to hold on to their places in the top 20.

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March 3, 2016 |
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