Billionaire owners of superyachts often spend £200m or more on what is essentially a floating palace on the ocean. Three young British people died on superyachts, and their families never provided with compensation or even an apology from anyone. It’s complicated, not least because the yachts can operate in international jurisdictions, so coroners are prevented from calling people as witnesses, and it’s incredibly hard to hold anyone to account.
There’s been a big rise in the purchasing of Downton Abbey-style estates, costing upwards of £25m, where people who formerly lived in Mayfair or similarly expensive urban locations have relocated to get more space, more land, in order to escape the pandemic and house more family members.
The very richest people have benefited financially – in fact, it’s been a very good year for the super-rich. That group – including people such as Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk of Tesla – are able to take financial risks. Tech firms are doing brilliantly on the stock market. We’re all at home using Zoom, Google, Amazon and so on, so they are sitting pretty. The market value of Zoom is up over 500% this year!
A recent UBS report talked about how the super-rich’s fortunes have almost doubled in the last three years, and by more than a quarter during the recent market turmoil. Wealth is as concentrated now as it was in the US Gilded Age, when a few billionaire families – the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, etc – had monopolies on the biggest industries.
While whole families who would previously have been decidedly 'middle-class' are queuing up for food banks, the average pay of chief executives has surged far beyond that of the average worker. Just before lockdown, there were a number of chief executives who forewent their pay, but they’ll recoup it elsewhere, whereas their employees certainly won’t.