Forbes made a rating of the largest spendings of the year

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Roman Abramovich

Forbes made a rating of the largest spendings of the year

Forbes magazine has compiled a list of the most expensive purchases made by the richest men of the world in 2010. The rating was posted on the official website of the publication.

What’s more extravagant than spending $330,000 on two white truffles, the pricey fungi popular with foodies around the world? Spending $330,000 on the mushrooms and then not even eating them. Billionaire Stanley Ho, the casino king of Macau, did just that at a London auction last month. According to a truffle expert, the large, aged Italian specimens Ho bought–“grand champions,” in industry parlance–were not the sort you’d want to sprinkle on your risotto. “They’re mostly or entirely unusable for culinary concerns,” says Britt Bunyard, publisher of Fungi magazine. “They’re over-mature, split open, and often have bad or decomposed parts. The truffle connoisseur would pass them over for younger, fresher ones.”

This wasn’t Ho’s first time spending six figures on inedible mushrooms. November’s $330,000 purchase matches the Hong Kong-based developer’s own 2007 record for the delicacy, and he’s well-known to Bunyard and other truffle specialists as the man to beat at auctions worldwide. The high prices Ho routinely pays for truffles are inflated, as proceeds from these auctions generally benefit charities, but Bunyard is still not sure why the ultrarich flock to buy what he calls “a strong-smelling, black, dirty potato” over any other luxury item on the market.

The world’s wealthiest didn’t break any real estate records this year, but they’ve certainly contributed to a rebound in the ultra-high-end market. “I’ve seen a 125% increase in property selling for over $20 million in 2010 vs. 2009,” says Beverley Hills realtor Joyce Rey, who deals exclusively in luxury mansions. “It’s a thin market, but that growth is considerable.” Texas pipeline tycoon Kelcy Warren did his part to boost sales figures, spending $46.5 million in April on the 3,500-acre BootJack Ranch near Telluride, Colo. The estate can house 50 guests, and includes a 12,000-square-foot spa and aquatic center.

Not all of the year’s biggest billionaire purchases were private luxuries. Russian steel tycoon Roman Abramovich dropped $400 million on an island, but not of the palm-trees-and-jet-strip variety. Through an investment company, Abramovich bought New Holland Island, a crumbling ex-military base in a St. Petersburg canal. He plans to redevelop the island as a cultural center, including housing, hotels, shops and office space.

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