Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the art of getting rich through collecting
We reveal why the world's wealthiest business magnates all share one crucial thing in common
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are all over the internet and Twitter today, as each takes a break from being among the world's richest men to promote their respective charitable causes. But did you know that both men are also keen collectors?
A rare interview granted by the Microsoft founder in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper this weekend may focus on his devotion to humanitarian causes, including giving $28bn of his wealth to charity. But that doesn't mean Bill doesn't also have time to discuss his favourite collectibles...
These include art and manuscript, and it isn't surprising that one of our era's most remarkable men looks to collect artefacts linked to like-minded individuals. According to Gates, the world's 2nd richest man, his manuscripts collection includes historic pieces by Isaac Newton and Abraham Lincoln.
Yet even these pale in comparison to the centrepiece of Gates' collection, his self-professed 'pride and joy'. This is none other than the Codex Leicester, one of the Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci's most prized notebooks.
Written between 1506 and 1510, the Codex Leicester is a 72 page manuscript handwritten in Italian which comprises a number of famous da Vinci drawings and scientific writings, including many of his observations and theories about astronomy.
Da Vinci's 72 page manuscript, Codex Leicester, owned by Bill Gates
Today, the manuscript is the most expensive ever sold. Bill Gates acquired it in 1994 for a mouth-watering $30.8m. Needless to say, the notebook would be worth considerable more today - yet presumably still only a fraction of Gates' estimated $56bn wealth.
As Bill tells the Daily Mail in his interview: "I'm lucky that I own that notebook. I've always been amazed by Da Vinci, because he worked out science on his own. He would work by drawing things and writing down his ideas."
But the original ideas don't stop there... Once you own one of the most important notebooks in human history, what do you do with it? Well, it turns out that Bill's altruism isn't limited to his humanitarian causes.
As well as displaying the Codex Leicester once a year in a different city around the world, Gates is reportedly having the whole notebook converted to a digital format. So, thanks to a vision of which Da Vinci himself would be proud, future generations will be able to enjoy the polymath's works.
Gates also owns many vintage cars, including a Ferrari 348 and a Porsche 930 Turbo. And, in 1998, he purchased Lost on the Grand Banks by American artist Winslow Homer for $36m. The sale made it the most expensive American painting in history.
Warren Buffett: it's no coincidence
Nor is it a case of simply basking in luxury for luxury's sake. The truth is, many billionaires collect not only because of their passion for their chosen collection, but because they also recognise the value of diversifying their wealth and investment portfolios.
In fact, collecting and investing instincts can often go hand-in-hand in forging a path to investment success. Take Warren Buffett, for instance...
Buffett, generally acknowledged as the world's greatest ever investor, is today in the news for raising $2.34m in a charity eBay auction. The winning bidder gets to have lunch with Buffett.
No doubt they'll quiz Buffett on the secrets behind his lifetime of investing success. And it's very likely that stamp collecting will get a mention....
Believe it or not, it's often said that Buffett's investment skills were not only inspired by his Depression-scarred parents, but also by the discipline and studiousness he developed through collecting stamps as a child.
Better still, while the world's richest consolidate and enhance their wealth with collectible investments, there's no reason why you can't follow their example and enhance your wealth with alternative assets.
Take a look at Paul Fraser Collectibles' expert advice pages on investing in collectibles to find out more about how you can benefit from collectibles as investments.
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Images: Christie's, Kjetil Ree (Bill Gates), Mark Hirschey (Warren Buffett)