BOSTON (TheStreet) -- With Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report, Bank of America (BOA) , JPMorgan (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report and other U.S. banks and brokerage firms ready to pay more than $100 billion in bonuses this month, there's an online marketplace where bankers can spend inconspicuously.
Intended for an audience that covets
stars more than those attached to
is offering a $25,000 bottle of Remy Martin cognac, a 313-room resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, valued at $74 million and the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez's $10 million Miami mansion. But with bonuses under siege from the government and envious (and angry) Americans, wealthy hedge-fund managers can buy on the sly.
BillionaireXchange.com peddles as many yachts as some auction sites sell luxury cars.
If the rich want to buy it, the site aims to sell it. Jewelry, cars, aircraft and boats are ubiquitous. Over time, the service, which was started in November, hopes to attract such high-end deals as private islands, mines and casinos.
Yachts may prove to be a worthy indicator of whether the wealthy are in the mood for spending. The site has 95 vessels listed, ranging in price from $100,000 to $49 million. At the high end is a 143-foot Leight Star luxury yacht that has sleeping accommodations for 10 guests and sports heated marble floors, flat-screen TVs and other high-tech features.
"It's the one-off things we get that are the exciting and intriguing," co-founder Quintin Thompson says. "There are things that make you ask, 'Wow, somebody actually made this and somebody is actually going to buy this?' "
Falling into that category is a diamond-studded golf ball that sold for $250,000. The buyer said he intended to use it as a paperweight. There was also a diamond- and ruby-encrusted fountain pen sold by an Italian designer for $500,000. The purchase ended up being a bargain it had an appraised value of $1.1 million.
Users of BillionaireXchange.com must be members. To bid, you need to verify net worth of at least $2 million. All items are reviewed before they go live, and documentation is required to establish authenticity and appraisal value. Transactions are made through an escrow account.
Thompson says BillionaireXchange.com has been the middleman for more than $200 million in transactions. He's signed on 26,000 millionaires and nearly a dozen billionaires as members. In exchange for its services, the company pockets 5% of the selling price. Business has been down for members worth less than $10 million, Thompson says.
"For our members in the $40 million to $100 million range and above, they could still go purchase that
Veyron," he says. "They may not have been in the mood to do it, but they still could. They are always in the market looking for a good deal."
The wealthy in other countries will pick up the slack, Thompson says.
"We do business with customers around the world, and I definitely see China as the emerging market running away with the luxury sector right now," he says. "We have also seen some great growth potential in India."
-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.