As the number of billionaires and high-wealth millionaires increases, so do the extravagant offerings that prey upon their new money.
The only reason to spend $1 million on a pen is because you can.
There is a difference between a luxury item and a pure status symbol, and that difference is roughly a digit or three to the left of the former. The median household income in the U.S. is still $54,000, which means just about anything above that price is going to be a tough pull for the average consumer.
However, the U.S. is also home to 536 billionaires -- more than 10 per state (although California has 124 and Idaho, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Mississippi and Alabama have none) and more than double that living in second-place China (213). Beyond that, there are 10.4 million millionaires in the U.S. alone, according to market research firm Spectrem Group. Of that group, there are 1.2 million households worth $5 million to $25 million, and 143,000 households worth $25 million or more.
There's money to be thrown around and, given the fact that there are 3,000 more households with $25 million or more than there were in 2014, there's a whole lot of new money looking to make a name for itself.
"Despite ongoing concerns about market volatility and the direction of the U.S. economy, the number of affluent American households expanded in 2015," said George Walper Jr., president of Spectrem Group.
With all that new growth at the top of the wealth pile, there are some wealthy individuals who haven't figured out small matters like legacy or philanthropy as of yet and are just adapting to their newfound largesse. These are the folks who help casinos build new wings.
When enterprising individuals sniff some new money heading in their direction, the offerings get more lavish and the prices get higher in a hurry. Diamonds, gold leaf, helicopter rides and other add-ons lure that new money in a hurry, as at least one of the U.S. presidential candidates knows all too well.
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