In today’s fast-moving cosmopolitan world, those who are far-sighted and enterprising, willing to work hard, take risks, and are determined to make it big, well, those are the people who eventually find themselves landing with a glorious thump at the door of Abba’s vaunted ‘rich man’s world’.
But like the rest of the humble populace, we’re all curious - once they’ve made it, what do the big boys spend all their money on? After all, having so much dough that you can quite literally do whatever you want day after day, well, that’s gotta be fun, right?
So, in the spirit of taking a peek at a rich man’s world, we decided it would be fun to pit a handful of Malaysian money-makers against some international personalities with money to spare.
We hope you take inspiration from this bunch of people who together have enough money to feed a small nation! Read how they started out, fell down, climbed up again, made tons of money, and what they spend all that moolah on! With a little bit of luck, a whole lot of hard work and a careful perusal of their stories, you too could be on your way to business class travel, designer goods and basically everything your heart could possibly long for!
24, Chart-busting Pop Singer
"I don’t really spend money and I don’t really like fame."
The eccentric Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) truly has the world eating out of her hands. As a young girl, she had a precocious start, gaining early admission to NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts and later being signed to Def Jam Recordings when she was 19. After being dropped by the label, she was discovered again and signed to Interscope Records, where she spent some time writing songs for other artistes in the ilk of Britney Spears and Fergie. When Akon heard her sing, he quickly convinced Interscope to sign a joint deal, which also signed her to his label Kon Live Distribution. In 2008, she catapulted onto the scene with her debut album The Fame. Gaga’s aptly titled album has prophetically brought her even more fame. This year’s Forbes rankings reveal that she has leaped to No 4 on the 100 Most Powerful Celebrities list, with a salary of USD62 million (RM198 million)! Her 106-tour date alone raked in USD31 million (RM98 million) and her music video for ‘Telephone’ with Beyonce had 90 million views! With a combination of quirky, sometimes downright weird fashion choices and interesting tunes, she’s well on her way to staying at the top.
$ Lady Gaga spends USD25,000 (RM79,000) a month on a breathtaking USD5 million (RM16 million) home in Beverly Hills, overlooking the ocean!
$ According to the New York Daily, Gaga has shown an interest in a USD26 million (RM80 million), 8-bedroom, 8-bathroom, 7.5 acre English country style estate in the Hamptons.
$ She’s a daddy’s girl and is very close to her family. She bought her parents a black Rolls Royce for their anniversary and covered the cost of her father’s open heart surgery.
$ She once bought USD1,000 (RM3,000) worth of pizza for fans at an autograph signing when she found out that some of them had waited overnight for her.
$ Gaga has confessed that she spends most of her money on security, so that she can evade the paparazzi and make herself “disappear”!
25, Football Star
"I’m living a dream I never want to wake up from."
The flamboyant, stylish Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s most expensive football player. He was brought up in Madeira, Portugal, the son of a cook and a gardener. As an 18-year-old, he was signed by Manchester United for a record £12.24 million (RM60 million) in 2003. He was a great success in United, receiving the FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year award in 2005 and the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year, both in 2007. Also in 2007, he signed a 5-year, £120,000 (RM594,000) a week extension with United, officially making him the highest-paid player in team history. In 2009, Manchester United accepted a transfer bid worth £80 million (RM396 milion) from Real Madrid for Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s new contract with Real Madrid is worth 11 million euros (RM45 million) a year. That aside, the young Portuguese player also acts as the captain of his national team. Cristiano Ronaldo is No 48 on Forbes list of 100 Most Powerful Celebrities, the 2nd footballer after the much older David Beckham.
$ He once reportedly bought a pair of £25,000 (RM123, 000) earrings for then-girlfriend Nereida Gallardo.
$ Ronaldo’s legs are purported to be insured for more than USD100 million (RM494 million).
$ Cristiano Ronaldo is a huge car enthusiast and has to date bought a Porsche Panamera Turbo (RM815,000), BMW M6 (RM272,000) Aston Martin DB9 (RM643,000), Rolls Royce Phantom (RM1,680,000), Bentley Continental GT Speed (RM693,000) and a Ferrari 599 GTB (RM990,000 – totaled in an accident)
$ He has bought an £8 million (RM39 million) hotel in Portugal the sea on Porto Santo.
31, Group Chief Executive Officer, IBC Group of Companies
Ray Ling is a Sarawakian-born lad from a humble background, who came to KL when he was 19 for his education. He decided to explore the direct sales line with a group of his classmates and got quite lucky, earning more than RM20,000 a month when he was just 21 years old! He bought his first Mercedes Benz when he was 23. But after being the victim of an attempted kidnap, his life spiraled downhill. His career suffered and he left for Taiwan for 2 years, where he fulfilled his dream of becoming a radio DJ. He came back to Malaysia when he was 25, but couldn’t find a job. He reached an all-time low when he couldn’t even afford food for himself. He ventured into network marketing again and turned his life around. In 2006, he broke the Malaysian record, having produced 7,000 agents and earned almost RM3 million in 2 years! 2 years later, he wanted to form his own direct sales company. Through a serendipitous meeting with a stranger who had read about him, he managed to buy a direct sales license for RM50,000 (worth RM1.5 million)! And the rest, as they say, is history. He formed IBC Group and within 3 months, his company’s turnover was up to RM1 million again. He was the youngest CEO of a direct sales company when he was 27 years old. After that, he started to form a lot of subsidiary companies – he now has 7! Ray says that his climb up the millionaire’s ladder reflects the words, “Every successful person has to experience being in the valley before they can reach the mountains.”
$ He likes designer watches – he has 2 Panerai watches, one worth around RM30,000 and another antique one valued at RM20,000!
$ He loves coats and confesses that he has around 400 of them, ranging between RM800 to RM1,000 each!
$ He treats himself to a facial every week.
$ His book Secrets of a Young Millionaire has reached the MPH Bestsellers list and the Chinese version is sold out!
$ He just bought a RM2 million bungalow in Kota Damansara and has a luxury apartment overlooking KLCC.
$ Ray is spearheading the launch of a RM5 million fine dining Chinese restaurant in The Gardens, MidValley Megamall, KL.
Ganesh Kumar Bangah
30, Co-Founder, President & Group Chief Executive Officer, MOL & Friendster
The effervescent, cherubic Ganesh Kumar Bangah has always been very enterprising. Whilst still at university when he was only 19 years old, he developed a cybercafe software programme, which he sold to 40 cybercafes but later let people download for free. He soon realised that he could turn those physical outlets into payment outlets where people could pay cash for their online transactions, specifically online games. He started MOL when he was 21, and became a millionaire at 23, when he listed his company! He also earned a Malaysia Book of Records award as the youngest CEO of a public listed company. Even though MOL was doing extremely well, Ganesh knew that MOL didn’t have much of a community, and fully acquired Friendster in December last year. Ganesh’s strategy is to turn Friendster into a social gaming destination – he didn’t buy Friendster to compete with Facebook, he bought it for its community and brand. These days, MOL is a mammoth money making machine, which generates a revenue of about USD105 million (RM350 million) per year, has over 115 million registered users through Friendster, over 540,000 physical retail payment channels across 80 countries and is connected to 88 online banks across 9 countries! Ganesh’s approach to his success is simple, “For better or for worse, I invest or re-invest in assets or businesses that add value.”
$ When he was at the Four Seasons in France, he spent RM3,000 on a meal for two. That’s his most expensive meal to date!
$ Most of the time he travels business class.
$ He likes ice wine, which is found in cold areas in Canada, and is made from frozen grapes. It costs about RM100 per bottle.
$ Ganesh has always been a gadget guy and is especially fond of Apple products. He’s got a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Apple Tv, iPad, iPhone 3G, an iPhone4 waiting for him in the US, and a desktop full of Apple stuff!
$ Ganesh has a Vertu phone, which costs about USD6,000 (RM19,000) – which he uses for conference calls, because the reception is good.
$ Most of his money goes towards investing in companies. He says that if you manage an investment in a tech company well, a RM2 million investment could potentially turn into RM20 million in 3 years!
21, Harry Potter star
"I have no idea what I’m going to do with all this money."
Rupert Grint shot to fame after landing the role of Ron Weasley in the multi-million dollar Harry Potter film franchise. A big fan of the Harry Potter books, he won the part of Ron Weasley at the tender age of 11, by sending in a video of himself dressed up as his drama teacher and rapping about himself. He beat out 40,000 other applicants for the role. His first Harry Potter movie – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, launched him and co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson into the big leagues even though none of them were even teenagers yet. Subsequent Harry Potter films have only added to Rupert’s wealth and he is estimated to have a personal fortune valued at £20 million (RM98 million) which will almost certainly swell tremendously until 2011 when the HP movies end. Aside from the teenage wizard flicks, Rupert has embarked on slightly edgier fare as well, taking on more mature roles in Driving Lessons, for which he won rave reviews and the recently released (though not in Malaysia), Cherrybomb, for which he has a very un-Ron Weasley nude scene. Ron does admit that he has more money than he knows what to do with, and when asked during an interview what he would do if acting roles dried up in the future and he had to go back to scratch, the laidback Rupert prosaically said, “I think I’ll be all right.” However, this is highly unlikely to be the case as Rupert is pipped to be the most successful of the HP kids, with directors like Martin Scorcese endorsing his star potential!
$ He has a Hummer-style golf cart, and a bright orange Range Rover (to match his hair). He has also said that he wouldn’t mind, “a collection of old Mustangs and a few classic hot rods”.
$ Rupert Grint has bought quite a lot of things over the years, among them a 1974 Mr Whippy Bedford CV ice cream van, a Sega Rally 2 Twin arcade machine, a coin-operated fortune-telling machine, a hovercraft, and a quad bike!
$ He has bought a pair of teacup pigs, which are exotic pigs that can fit into a teacup. Each pig is valued at £1,100 (RM5,390)!
$ Rupert Grint is quite the real estate collector and according to Land Registry documents, he has a £5.4 million (RM26 million) 18th century, 22-acre Hertfordshire mansion, which has 5 reception rooms, 6 bedroom suites and 2 cottages on the grounds. He also owns another £3.35 million (RM16 million) mansion and co-owns a sizeable detached home. His overall property portfolio is valued at £9.2 million (RM45 million)!
31, NBA Star
"I ‘ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether its sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate or hitting the game-winning shot."
One of the most successful basketball players of all time, Kobe Bryant is 31 and still working his magic. The son of a former basketball player, Kobe spent most of his formative years in Italy where his dad played professional basketball. When he was 13, the family moved back to America and Kobe played high school basketball, earning a stellar reputation and playing all 5 positions. Upon his graduation, he eschewed a basketball scholarship and an education at an Ivy league university, and headed straight for the NBA. 17 at the time he signed with the LA Lakers, Kobe had to get his parents to co-sign the contract because he was too young. Having been a fan of the Lakers as a boy, he has so far remained with them throughout his career. He has been named MVP (Most Valuable Player) and has achieved a number of records, including being the youngest player (31 years, 151 days) to achieve 25,000 points in a season, beating the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. In April of this year, he signed a 3-year contract worth USD87 million (278 million). Kobe Bryant is ranked No 14 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list (the 2nd sportsman on the list, after the disgraced Tiger Woods) and made USD48 million (RM153 million) last year.
$ Kobe reportedly forked out
USD200,000 (RM639,000) to settle a lawsuit brought by a former maid.
$ He bought a 9.5 acre USD13.5million (RM43 million) home in a gated community in Orange County, which includes 2 guest houses.
$ In 2003, Kobe Bryant bought his wife Vanessa a stunning 8-carat purple diamond ring valued at USD4 million (RM13 million), - as an apology after his sexual assault case that was later dropped.
$ Kobe Bryant bought a 50% interest in the Italian basketball team Olimpia Milano, where his father used to play.
$ Kobe bought his wife the first automatic Lamborghini Murcielago in the world, at a cost of USD400,000 (RM1, 270, 770)!
33, Founder of Mastery Academy of Chinese Metaphysics, Master Consultant of Yap Global Consulting
Joey Yap began his venture into Chinese astrology as a young university student in Curtin University, Perth, Australia. He attests that there was no special event that preceded this passion for astrology, he just became interested in it and started consulting. The business picked up and he found people eager to learn from him. So he started teaching, and when he came back to Malaysia after his graduation, he decided the best thing to do would be to deviate from his Accounting degree and embark on Chinese astrology full-time. What he wanted to do was to make a difference using metaphysics to create a change in people. With the BaZi profiling that he’s created, he’s helped MANY people become millionaires. He says, “When you understand your profiles, you will understand the path of least resistance and how to become wealthy. Everyone has their path. If you know your path, things will be easy.” Joey soon branched out from mapping individuals’ charts to doing charts for multinational corporations and even some of the wealthiest people in Malaysia. He is also the bestselling author of over 50 Chinese Metaphysics books and even hosted his own television show on feng shui! As a result of his considerable skills, Joey became a millionaire at the tender age of 26, a fact which he brushes off with the words “It’s no big deal!” Joey summarises his wealth by saying, “I’m glad I don’t have financial problems!”
$ Joey is an avid watch collector, and has about 7 watches, which range in the RM90,000 region. Each.
$ Joey doesn’t like to drive, and recently purchased a BMW 7-series (to be driven in).
$ He doesn’t believe in just throwing money away, although he does sometimes spend to make himself happy and to expand his business.
$ He only travels business class or first class $ He confirms that it feels good to wake up and think, “I can go anywhere – if I want to go to Paris today, I can!” Although he professes that he doesn’t really have the time.
$ Most of his money is spent on business-related investment-linked properties. He is rumoured to have more than 50.
21, Creative Director of Musa Fashion & Cafe
The sweet and friendly Nazreem Musa has always been into fashion. Something he picked up from “taking in a lot of cool stores around the world,” he says. When he studied in Parsons, Paris, he met loads of designers, and had the opportunity to go to fashion houses and see their collections for himself. That’s when he thought, “This is great! I want to bring this back to KL!” It took him a year to plan – he began when he was 20. He started going to Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and Stockholm Fashion Week, where he met a lot of designers and then he divulged his plan to his mum, who said, “Okay, do this yourself. It’s your responsibility.” Nazreem confesses that he found it extremely difficult to convince the designers to let him bring their clothes to Malaysia. Still, he persevered and launched Musa at the beginning of this year, stocked with cult brands like House of Holland, Cheap Monday and Naked & Famous; with Musa Café berthed just next door to the boutique. Asked about the response to his store so far, Nazreem says, “It’s amazing!” He gets asked all the time why he decided to take the plunge at such a young age and says it was because he has always been ambitious, and has learned a lot from being a part of his mother’s multi-industrialist company. As the Managing Director of his mother’s company, Nazreem has his hands full, managing his boutique as well as the business. He sums up his foray into fashion by saying “I love what I do!”
$ He travels extensively, keeping in touch with designers and their events, but maintains a low profile in KL.
$ When in Paris, he gets calls from the Chanel store about their latest collection and the staff will typically lay out the mens ready-to-wear collection for him to just pick and choose what he likes!
$ Some people wait for up to a year for their Birkin bag, but Nazreem got his in 3 months, after he placed his order in Paris!
$ Nazreem’s fashion favourites: Hermes Birkin bags, Rick Owens footwear and Chanel mens ready-to-wear
$ Nazreem hopes to one day open a gallery where people can come and see his vintage collection of clothes, accessories and shoes.
$ Nazreem is also a fur lover and has a sizeable collection of furs
$ He is an acclaimed dancer and danced alongside Shah Rukh Khan in the movie, Don.
18, Hannah Montana Actress & Singer
"It’s a long ride to the top, but only a short ride down."
Miley Cyrus is one wealthy teenager! After auditioning and successfully convincing producers of the Disney show, Hannah Montana, to cast her in the lead role (they thought she was too young), she went on to become a breakout star! Hannah Montana premiered to the highest audience ever for a Disney show, and is still raking in the big bucks. Miley’s first tour Best of Both Worlds was a massive success, with tickets selling out within minutes! Her subsequent album Breakout, debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 and her turn in Hannah Montana: The Movie basically launched her acting career as well. Now that she is 18, Miley has shed her sweeter-than-sugar image, and her latest album Cant Be Tamed is a reflection of her turnaround. She’s also reportedly said that she would like to take a break from singing to concentrate on acting. Following the success of her latest movie The Last Song (despite poor critical reviews), she is definitely on the right track. Miley may be only 18, but last year alone, she raked in a mammoth USD48 million (RM153 million) and is ranked No 13 on Forbes Most Powerful Celebrities list! Aside from being possibly the wealthiest teen on the planet, Miley is also in the running to become the world’s youngest billionaire, and could potentially edge out Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder.
$ Miley Cyrus reportedly spent USD24,000 (RM76,000) on hair extensions, made from human hair imported from Italy and dyed to match her hair colour!
$ Miley recently purchased a USD3.4 million (RM10 million) mansion in Toluca Lake, California, which apparently has its own recording studio!
$ For her 16th birthday, she bought herself a USD75,000 (RM239,000) Mercedes CLK 550 Cabriolet.
$ She reportedly plonked down USD3,000 (RM9,500) on sexy lingerie.
$ She sometimes wears plain Hanes t-shirts with up to USD60,000 (RM19,100) worth of Loree Bodkin jewelry piled on top!
35, American Idol Host, Producer
and Radio Host
"Everyone in showbiz is driven by ego, so how do you go from having loads of fame to working at 7-11? You can’t do it!"
Ryan Seacrest is certainly a jack of all trades. He produces the hit reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, hosts E! News, is the host of the most highly rated reality show – American Idol, and has his own radio shows as well, On Air With Ryan Seacrest and American Top 40. As a young child, Ryan was obsessed with listening to the radio and counted Rick Dees as one of his idols. “Before I met anyone in this business I was already pretending to be them,” he said. He hosted his school’s radio programme and by the time he was 20, he was hosting KYSR-FM’s Ryan Seacrest for the Ride Home, which became the station’s highest rated show and was syndicated nationally. Ryan went on to host On Air With Ryan Seacrest (available on FlyFm in Malaysia) which is internationally syndicated, as well as American Top 40. In 2002, he became the host of American Idol, which went on to become the highest-rated reality show in America. Ryan recently negotiated a deal which pays him USD15 million (RM47 million) a year for hosting American Idol, making him the highest paid reality host to date! The man with many talents brought in USD51 million (RM163 million) last year and is ranked No 44 on Forbes 100 Most Powerful Celebrities list.
$ Ryan Seacrest bought Kevin Costner’s Hollywood Hills home for USD11.5 million (RM36 million). It has 5 bedrooms, a media room, billiards room, gym, pool, spa and staff quarters!
$ At a recent dinner at the high-end Billionaire Club in Sardinia, Ryan Seacrest allegedly picked up the tab for fellow diners, at a whopping USD41,000 (RM131,000) and reportedly left a USD10,000 (RM31,000) tip!
$ Ryan Seacrest bought a stake in his radio show, On Air With Ryan Seacrest
$ He has an Aston Martin DB9, valued at USD200,000 (RM639, 000)