Natural entrepreneurs are the sort of people who look at the
Bond films and realise
that the sums do not add up.
Even as little children, we calculated that Bond would have
to be about ninety to fit everything he did into his life, and that no private
individual would have access to enough surplus cash to fund a Bond villain’s
For example, how could Hugo Drax build his own secret space
station and run his own shuttle programme in Moonraker at a time when even NASA’s budget was under pressure?
Yet it is strange how things have changed. Now there are a
number of individuals with real wealth in excess of ten billion dollars – who
are in fact worth more than most countries. More importantly, several of them
also have the liquidity to spend a substantial proportion of that wealth
At the same time, new technology and globalisation have reduced
prices – and the recession looks to reduce them even more – to make world
domination an affordable option for the successful entrepreneur for the first
time since Cecil
So here are some of the bargains you can get for under a billion.
1 White Cat: probably easier to obtain
than ever since the Cats
Protection League lost all their money in the Icelandic bank crash. True.
2 Private Island: there have always been
islands for sale. Of course, their number was limited, but the Emir
of Dubai has shown how even this is no longer a problem – now we can build
3 Secret Escape Tunnel: Silvio
Berlusconi has had one for years – probably for when the tax inspector
called – but in the end found it more convenient to simply buy the Italian
4 Largo’s Yacht: Roman
Abramovich’s latest makes it look like a pedalo. Indeed, Roman’s is said to
have its own missile defence system, so there is no danger of chaps in orange
swimsuits parachuting down on it. Moreover, there are great bargains to be had
in the second-hand market, especially at the moment.
5 Weapon of Mass Destruction: nasty virus,
Cold-War Surplus atomic device, unpleasant chemicals, or just a very big industrial
laser – take your pick. There are more potential suppliers than ever.
6 Ice Palace: there is already an ice hotel in Norway – or at
least there is for the next few months; it does tend to melt a bit come spring.
7 Supertanker: second-hand quarter-million
tonners have been sold for scrap at remarkably low prices – especially since
some are too big for some of the world’s major seaways – but you will need to
pay extra to install the bow doors capable of swallowing nuclear submarines.
8 Private Army: after the embarrassing lows
of Angola, the Seychelles, and “Soldier of Fortune” conventions in the 1970s,
the mercenary has made a big comeback in the form of the Private Military
Contractor (PMC). Just give Blackwater a call and tell them Dick Cheney sent
9 Secret Base in Extinct Volcano: pricey, but
the trick, suggested with great prescience by the Bond films themselves, is to
get the Chinese in. Look at how the new Shanghai
appeared from nowhere.
10 Space Vehicle: poor Hugo Drax was before
his time. Another bearded megalomaniac looks set to make private space travel a
reality – but has Branson
the proper sense of style required in a Bond villain?