An employee counts Hong Kong five hundred dollar banknotes (Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg)

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Here at Bloomberg Pursuits, we often get asked for shopping advice. After all, we spend our time researching the best products and experiences, from cars to watches to real estate to travel. It’s our job to tell you how you should pamper yourself.

But this year, during bonus season in heated economic times, it seemed appropriate to turn the question around. We asked the people we talk to every day—from fashion insiders to car designers to finance types—a very specific query: 

If you knew you were going to lose all your money tomorrow, what luxury would you splurge on today? 

Here is what we heard back.*

Sports & Pastimes

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

Josh Hall surfboards ($1,150 each)
“I would buy half a dozen Josh Hall surfboards. They’re stunning, amazing rides. And I can also use them as beautiful art.”—Michael Solomonov, chef, Zahav

Four spots on the 2019 TD Five Boro bike tour ($440)
“Riding with my wife and teenage daughters for 40 miles on NYC streets on the first Sunday in May without having to encounter a single car is priceless. To do good while doing well, I would ride in support of a great NYC charity like Good Shepherd Services.”—Colin Teichholtz, head of fixed income, BlueMountain Capital Management LLC

Gaelforce Equalizer fly rod ( £925; $1,196)
“I’m a fly fishing fanatic: I would take my bonus and go salmon fishing in Iceland. It’s shockingly expensive because the season is short, usually just 3 months, with June and July being the best. There are only a few rivers, and they are pristine, so the authorities are very strict about cleanliness of gear and your personal footprint. Specifically, I’d get the Gaelforce Equalizer 13-foot rod and an 8/9 weighted line.”—Ken Aretsky, owner, Aretsky’s Patroon restaurant

Pair of hunting Labradors ($5,000) 
“12 years of dog bliss. Plus, if I retire early, I can take up pheasant hunting at the country house.”—Claire Courtade, senior designer, novelty product development, Kate Spade

Create a car club ($10 million)
“With unlimited funds, I’d find an abandoned art deco-style factory warehouse to completely transform into a ‘clubhouse’ for me and my car-minded friends. This would include a fully equipped workshop area to detail your cars, a fully stocked cocktail lounge, and a large enough property that it would allow for a small driving course. All membership dues would support the Automotive Restoration Program at McPherson College in Kansas.”—Jonathan Klinger, automotive specialist, Hagerty Group LLC

  • Become a regular at Saison and Angler in San Francisco ($12,000)

Planes, Boats, & Automobiles

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

Mazda Miata ($30,000)
“Ideally, it would be the convertible with the optional hardtop: one of the best bang-for-the-buck sports cars ever made.”—Alexander Weaver, chief automotive specialist, RM Sotheby’s

1981 Mercedes 500 SLC ($79,000)
“I believe in buying and driving things you like. I’m an ’80s baby!”—Hannah Elliott, car columnist, Bloomberg Pursuits

Airstream trailer ($84,000)
“I would buy an Airstream trailer big enough for my family, put some surfboards in the back, and drive off toward the water. No one would need to know where I was.”—Curtis Stone, chef, Maude restaurant

Land Rover Defender and a safari ($50,000)
“I’d buy a Land Rover Defender and then go on an African safari with the family, traveling with LV trunks designed by Virgil Abloh. If I have any money left, I’ll donate it to conservation charities.”—Jim Meehan, co-founder, PDT Bar

Cessna Citation X private jet ($23 million)
“A PJ, honestly. In my brain I’m thinking about places I want to go. If I had a private jet, I’d be like, ‘I’m out.’ ”—Michael B. Jordan, actor

Home & Real Estate

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

Soundproofed floors ($1,600)
“So I don’t have to listen to my neighbors below us complain about my kids being too loud!”—Michael Sabat, vice president, equity derivative sales, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

A modernist mini mart ($200,000 to $1 million)
“I would buy or lease a mini mart at a gas station and turn it into a small specialty deli/grocery. I’d buy a small oven to bake fresh bread every morning, and I’d have a very small menu of sandwiches. Can you imagine walking into a mini mart that smells like fresh baked bread? I would sell a very thoughtful selection of middle- and bottom-shelf liquor. I would have reliable and very good brewed coffee. It would have all of the things a mini mart normally has, just more thought-out. Either it’s successful or I just blow all the money and run out the clock till it closes. That would still be fun.”Ben Sanders, artist

  • A Portuguese castle with formal gardens ($6 million)

Case of old Chartreuse or Tarragona from the 1970s or ‘80s ($9,700 for 12 bottles)|
“Chartreuse is an otherworldly liquid time capsule that becomes more layered and nuanced with age—as it also increases in value. Bottles labeled “Tarragona” were produced in Spain between 1902 and 1989, but it is not produced any longer. I’d buy a mix of yellow and green bottlings. The yellow liquid includes honey and saffron in the secret recipe and is a bit more melodic, while the green version is sharper and arguably, more complex.”—Jordan Salcito Bohr, founder, Ramona Wine Cooler

12.4 acres of land in Abiquiu, N.M. ($325,000)
“I’d build artist studios and set up an artist residency program. It’s a magical part of the country, and I’ve seen how transformative a productive residency can be for an artist. To support an artist’s creative growth would be a gift that keeps on giving.”—Maureen Bray, Executive Director of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) 

A food business ($1 million)
“I would start a food business in a city neighborhood that has suffered great economic hardship. I believe in the power of food entrepreneurship. I want to put my money where my mouth is.”Andrew Zimmern, restaurateur

A new blanket ($4 million)
“I would finance the R&D and production of a duvet where one half provides great insulation for someone who gets cold at night and the other lets a hot sleeper rest coolly. But the whole thing has an even weight distribution, so it doesn’t get totally pulled to one side of the bed. You’re welcome, everybody, I saved marriage.”—Chris Rovzar, editorial director, Bloomberg Pursuits

Art & Collectibles

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

Anni Albers’s Study for Har Tzeon Panel (V) , 1967 ($200,000)
“After an almost universally lauded show of Anni Albers’s work at the Tate Modern, Albers (1899-1994) is having a resurgence. Her work on paper is just as interesting as her painting—and much more affordable.”—James Tarmy, arts columnist, Bloomberg Pursuits

An original Bach orchestral manuscript ($3.3 million)
“I’m a classical musician, so to me, original music written down by a composer represents the ultimate in lasting creativity. An original leaf in Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart’s own hand lives forever.”—Roy Niederhoffer, president, R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management Inc.

  • Egyptian sarcophagus mask, circa 943-716 B.C. ($85,000)

50,000 2 delta QQQ puts 
“If this is the last hurrah and the market will tank, then using the bonus to buy puts means you will make a lot of money if you’re correct. Or is that like asking the genie for three more wishes?”—Nick Kokonas, founder and chief executive officer, Tock reservations system

  • Orchestra tickets to the entire Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera (from $680)

White gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ( $28,800)
“I never regret buying something sustainable and handcrafted in our digital age. I would buy an automatic chronograph, which I could later pass to my children and start a sustainable tradition.”—Gorden Wagener, chief of design, Mercedes-Benz

Fashion & Beauty

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

Marni leopard belted calfskin overcoat ($8,500)
“Might as well go really, really big. As with any extravagant purchase, you feel like you’ll love it forever when you pull the trigger, and with this one, I think the feeling will last. I am certain I will never see its like again.”—Josh Peskowitz, men’s fashion director, Moda Operandi

A custom Italian suit ($6,000)
“I just lost five pounds on the Whole30, and I’m Italian, so I deserve it.”—Frank Chiodi, institutional sales, Cornerstone Macro LP

Chanel Deauville tote (from $1,000)
“The Chanel Deauville tote is my go-to bag. I have a rotation of different colors that I wear for work, for travel, even to go to the beach! My only regrets are when I hold out on buying a color and miss the chance! I feel like Chanel in general is just a splurge-worthy brand because, unlike a lot of luxury brands, it really never goes out of style.”Stephanie Gottlieb, jewelry designer

  • Graff baguette diamond Bombé earrings (starting at $90,000)

Prada slingback pumps ($890)
“I’d go with emotional pieces. Those can guarantee my happiness ‘for a while.’ Specifically, a good Alaia dress, one that’s special but classic enough so I can wear it year after year. Also something tie dye, preferably from Raf Simon’s latest collections for Calvin Klein (that now will be a collector’s piece). And a Prada slingback!—Marina Larroude, fashion director, Barneys

  • Lotuff 929 carry-all bag ($1,200)

A high-fashion dog collar ($315)
“I would definitely get Root Beer, my dog, some type of Gucci or Chanel collar.”—Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll actress

Travel & Experiences

Here’s How to Spend This Year’s Bonus as If It’s Your Last

An Asian safari ($2,000 per person)
“I’d take as many friends as I could to go see an elephant in real life. They’re just such serene giants. They emanate love.”—Waris Ahluwalia, actor

Pasta tour and cooking class in Rome (about $30,000)
“I would go on a dedicated cacio e pepe tour of Rome for a one-weekend stay at the Casa Manni Roma, where a private chef would give me pasta-cooking classes. Then I’d come home and hire a personal trainer for a five-day-a-week workout for a month.”Kate Krader, food editor, Bloomberg Pursuits

Mini-Continent Hop ($85,950 per person)
My dream trip would be to go on a mini-continent hop and spend time with my family. I would start in London, home of Paddington Bear, Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan. It seems like so many our friends from children’s literature are from England. After that, we would need to rest at some gorgeous villa hotel with a stunning pool that sits above a glimmering glacier lake in Switzerland; Lake Geneva would fit the bill nicely. Then off to Beijing to see a different kingdom, with the Forbidden Palace, Summer Palace, and the Great Wall of China. A quick trip to Vietnam to do an overnight cruise in Halong Bay to see a scene that is out of a fairy tale, then we’d head to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and to spend time in Siem Reap. Then rest up on the island of Madagascar. (Kids love the movie and lemurs.) From there, we’d head to Egypt to see the pyramids and treasures of ancient Egypt. Then, I think, by that time we’d just want to be home. But to help us acclimate we would head to Santa Monica, Calif., staying on the beach, riding the rides, and playing skee-ball on the pier and eating at In and Out Burger.”Samantha Brown, television host

Crazy Backwoods Party (starting at $3,095 per night)
“The obvious thing here would be to find an accommodating farm, maybe a bed and breakfast. Invite 20 close friends and family, my three favorite chefs, Brian Loiacono, Josh Capon, and Jean Georges to help prepare (breakfast, lunch and dinner) courses with wine pairing by Gerard Basset, the World’s Best Sommelier, for a weekend. Entertainment consisting of a live music sets by John Legend and Chris Botti and visual experience curated by my buddy Etienne Russo, founder of Villa Eugenie. It’s all about having all senses stimulated. I’m about sharing in the experience I create.”—Ronnie Madra, owner 1OAK, EAROS

Jewelry Design Course ($10,000)
“I’d go back to art college to do a jewelry design course. I love the idea of getting back to basics and learning a new set of skills where I could explore and create unique products quickly, at least when compared to how long it takes to develop a supercar. I’d then look to mix both traditional and digital craftsmanship to create ultra-modern pieces of jewelry.”—Robert Melville, head of design, McLaren

Amangiri vacation (from $1,800 per night)
“Lately, I have been more interested in investing in experiences, travel, and wellness over more traditional material items. We have been wanting to go to Amangiri in Utah, but for just a weekend we would easily spend $10,000, and that doesn’t even include travel. We are working to save up for a house and expanding our family, so it’s hard to justify that expense at the moment, but it is on our short list of things we would love to do. However, if money was no object, we would still go—and maybe upgrade the room and fly out some friends!”—Jenné Lombardo, founder and owner of the Terminal Presents

A trip to Tahiti (starting at $50,000)
“I’d blow a chunk of cash for the best flying experience, by far, this side of a private jet: Etihad’s the Residence. On the upper deck of an Airbus A380, you get your own bedroom (for two!) in the sky, your own shower and bathroom, and even a butler. Stay at the Brando in unparalleled, ultra-private luxury.”—Brian Kelly, the Points Guy

Take stock of what’s important
“Like many people who have finished organizing their homes, when I shop, I think about whether something is really important in my life. I have two children, and looking after them is really important to me. So it would be water, rice, and food; making sure I have those is all I can think of.”Marie Kondo, tidiness expert 

Six months off (starting at $30,000)
“I love my job, but I also love recharging. I can’t think of any object or experience I would buy that would be better than some extended me-time.”—Sonya Shrier, director of visitor engagement, Metropolitan Museum of Art

*Thanks for reading this far! If you want advice on how to spend your money philanthropically, please check out our comprehensive Guide to Giving.

—With assistance from Alexis Benveniste, Nikki Ekstein, Hannah Elliott, James Gaddy, Amanda L. Gordon, Jaci Kessler, Kate Krader, Justin Ocean, Isabel Reynolds, and James Tarmy

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gaddy at jgaddy@bloomberg.net

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.