The trouble with living life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end awfully fast. Now it’s time to pay the piper. Or bagpiper, as the case may be.
Vijay Mallya, the ‘King of Good Times’, has run up some heavy bills and his net worth has dropped below $1 billion, but that sounds less daunting when you tot up his personal assets and the bling he surrounds himself with. Take the stuff he wears daily. There’s the huge, diamond studded ‘VJM,’ bracelet on his right hand, an equally huge diamond, ruby and emerald pendant of Lord Venkateshwara around his neck, the solitaires that dangle from his ears and the vintage Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch. All worth a tidy fortune, enough to pay quite a few salaries at Kingfisher.
Indeed, the total worth of his personal toys could buy a small country in today’s economic environment. His private corporate jet, the ultra-luxurious Airbus A319, is actually in the name of CJ Leasing (Cayman) Ltd, based in the Grand Cayman Islands, a tax haven. The aircraft, refitted to Mallya’s ultra luxe standards, cost him close to R250 crore. Then there is his $100 million megayacht, The Indian Empress (He also owns a smaller yacht, The Indian Princess).
It can accommodate up to 32 guests at sea. The yacht was custom made for the Qatar Royal Family in 2000 and sold to Mallya in 2006. It has 16 cabins across three levels, three suites and two master staterooms. There’s an elevator, helipad, gym, beauty salon, massage room and medical suite. Guests have access to a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and even Elton John’s baby grand piano. The paintings are by Renoir, Picasso and Dali.
In Monte Carlo and Istanbul, his parties on board the yacht are the hottest ticket in town. She requires a 30-member crew and also boasts a garage for two vehicles for ports where cars can be driven straight onto land.
Choosing which cars to take along is a head-scratcher. The ones he drives in India cover every luxury brand, from Rolls, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes and BMW to the sportier Audi (R-8), Aston Martin DB9, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar and McLaren. Collectively, they would be worth over R50 crore. His collection of some 250 vintage cars is actually priceless and includes some beauties like one of the only 40 Jaguar XJR15 race cars ever built,