THE BILLIONAIRES WHAT $1 BILLION CAN BUY
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Let's face it: A billion dollars is not a lot of money. It is A LOT OF MONEY. So much so that the owners can enjoy the finer things of life in multiples. They can experience the exotic not once but dozens of times. Want a vivid dollars-and-cents picture of $1 billion? Invested in a sedate, 30-year, triple A-rated, tax-exempt municipal bond yielding a mere 5.6%, $1 billion would shower you with $153,425 in interest every day. If you need some imagination to spend $1 billion -- and trust us, you do -- think of how creative you would have to be when the amount balloons up to the Sultan of Brunei's $37 billion or even Bill Gates's $6.7 billion. Fortunately for these gentlemen, and the other 99 billionaires on our list, we have already done the legwork. That's why we can answer the question posed by Ziggy, that popular cartoon philosopher, who asks: ''Money really isn't ! everything. If it was, what would we buy with it?'' In brief, $1 billion gets you the following:
-- A lifetime supply -- 30 months on average, till the kid is toilet trained -- of disposable diapers for 666,000 children.
-- With his $6.4 billion, superinvestor Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, could afford to guzzle his usual five Cherry Cokes a day for the next 12,058,407 years. Better think about switching to caffeine-free Coke, Warren.
-- Two years' worth of AIDS research at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, or a year's worth of the drug AZT for 333,000 HIV-infected people.
-- Six days and five nights at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for personal golf lessons, rounds of play, and morn-till-night schmoozing with 50 top professional golfers, including Tom Kite, left, and Fuzzy Zoeller, along with dinner at such expense-account joints as the Palm, Spago, and Caesars Bacchanal; custom-made golf clubs and bag; and a videotape of the whole extravaganza. Oh, and you could also pick up the tab for 39,999 of your dearest friends.
-- For his $37 billion, the Sultan of Brunei could buy and customize 117 additional Boeing 747s, more than there are in the fleets of Northwest and United combined.
-- The operation of every public school in the U.S. for six hours.
-- With her $7.8 billion, Queen Elizabeth could afford to foot the $12.50 tour tab for as many as 624 million lucky visitors to sneak a peek at Buckingham Palace, open for the first time this summer.
-- Just a little more than one day's Social Security benefits paid by the federal government.
-- One year's food for five million cats and dogs.
-- A before and after transformation: complete body makeover for 72,992 needy folks, including a face-lift; liposuction of the hips, thighs, stomach, and knees; and a nose job. Ivana! We hardly knew you.
-- With his $2.5 billion, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, could treat the 90 million customers who visited his furniture stores worldwide last year to the chain's famed hot lunch of Swedish meatballs, steamed potatoes, and lingonberries for eight days.
-- The soiree of the year -- literally: $1 billion books accommodations for 804 guests in every room and suite at New York City's plush Plaza Hotel for 365 days and nights. Plus: a pound of Beluga caviar and a bottle of '82 Dom Perignon rose champagne for each person every day; 365 nights of show tunes from crooner Bobby Short and his trio; and $700,000 in spending money for each person.
-- Two round-trip missions on the space shuttle with $182 million left over for gas and tolls.
-- Two years of salary, bonus, and stock grants for the 100 CEOs of the largest FORTUNE 500 industrial and service companies; $1 billion is also equivalent to two years' earnings for 56,561 minimum-wage workers.
-- Four years of maintenance and beautification of all 26,300 acres of municipal parkland, including 900 playgrounds, 13 golf courses, 40 swimming pools, and 500 tennis courts, in the five boroughs of New York City.
-- The tuition, room, and board at an Ivy League school for 10,645 students, enough to populate the freshman classes of Brown, Cornell, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale -- with $50 million left for Cliffs Notes.
-- Twenty-three years' worth of laundering a normal batch of dress shirts -- white, of course -- for the 112,496 men now working at IBM in the U.S. Whether all of them will need those shirts for 23 years is another story.
-- The 1993 salaries and pro-rated portion of the signing bonuses for all players on the 28 Major League Baseball teams with some $150 million left over to treat your friends to hot dogs and beer at the ballpark.
-- The average annual grocery bill for 250,000 families of four.
-- With his $3.3 billion, H. Ross Perot could buy approximately 1,300 nights of prime-time television on one network. Viewers might actually scan the dial looking for those Hee Haw reruns.
-- His or her very own stuffed Barney dinosaur for every child in the U.S. 9 years and younger, with enough money left over to give half these tykes a sing-a-long Barney videotape too.
-- With his $2.5 billion, Walter Annenberg could afford to pay $57 million for van Gogh's Wheat Field With Cypresses and give it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art 44 more times.
-- For his $5.9 billion, Revlon boss and Consolidated Cigar owner Ronald Perelman could light up one of his custom-made H. Upmann cigars every hour for 224,505 years.
-- A year's worth of daily Disneyland for 77,285 fans, who could enjoy the California theme park's 60 rides, plus a hamburger lunch and requisite Mickey Mouse ears.
-- With his $6.7 billion, newly engaged Microsoft boss Bill Gates could host the backyard wedding of the century for 800 guests. They would be flown out by private jet to the groom's suburban Seattle estate, where they would be housed in fully staffed geodesic domes specially constructed for the fete, with all the amenities and no charges for local phone calls. The four-day event -- rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception, celebratory brunch and dinner, and final day to hang out and shoot hoops -- would be an orgy of various caviars, white and black truffles, foie gras, exotic oils, breads baked to order, Cristal champagne, and vintage wines. Wedding favors for each guest: 18-karat- gold Rolex watches engraved with their names. Just the sort of shindig a guy with mismatched socks would spring for. And when it was all over, Gates would still have a few billion to treat his new wife, Melinda French, to a swell honeymoon.
-- An Egg McMuffin and large coffee for President Clinton and all 2,000 Secret Service agents, who could jog on over to McDonald's every morning for the next 575 years. You can almost hear the Republicans weeping.