Billionaire toys for sale

April 3, 2009
Chateau de Farcheville.

Chateau de Farcheville.
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In the market for a castle, private jet or soccer team? Check out these available items.

A year ago Sergei Polonsky had everything. At 35 he debuted on our World's Billionaires list as one of the youngest members. He was also gaining international recognition for his construction of Europe's tallest building.

One Russian market collapse later, Polonsky is scrambling to raise funds. In January he blogged: "I decided to sell my hotel Sungate Port Royal, yachts and the house on the Côte d'Azur and put all the proceeds into further construction of our projects."

A rep for Polonsky would confirm only that he's shopping the hotel. If you happen to be in the market for luxury goods, though, don't worry: There's no shortage of yachts and seaside villas available right now. A number of billionaires, former billionaires and their ex-spouses are now trying to unload some pieces of their billionaire lifestyle.

Australian James Packer inherited a media fortune from his late father and moved into casinos, but that may not have been a great bet. His chip pile is down $3.2 billion in the past 12 months, and he's now apparently scaling back.

The new father is reportedly selling a London triplex. Also on the market is his top-of-the-line Mangusta 165 yacht called the Z Ellerston. Packer is looking for a new owner only a year after taking control of the 164-footer. The asking price is $34 million.

Unfortunately for sellers like Packer, it's a buyer's market. When a Forbes reporter inquired about a superyacht with a luxury yacht broker, he was quickly told not to pay attention to list prices, as they don't take into account the dire financial circumstances. "If you are interested, please make an offer," the broker said. "Every offer will be treated with care."

The boom years of the past decade minted a fresh crop of nouveau riches eager to acquire trappings fitting their new economic class. According to Laurent Perignon, director of marketing at luxury yacht firm Camper & Nicholsons, half of the world's 100 largest yachts have been built in the last 10 years.
Now there's an abundance of supply in a time of diminishing demand. Simply put, there are fewer rich people to buy these items. Our 2009 list of the world's billionaires includes 793 individuals, down from 1,125 the previous year.

Even foreclosures are hitting the previously wealthy. Veronica Hearst, widow of former Forbes 400 member Randolph Apperson Hearst, lost her beachside Florida estate to foreclosure February 2008. The 52-room mansion sold for a reported $22 million at auction.

Still available is Edra Blixseth's castle. The ex-wife of ex-billionaire Timothy Blixseth is hoping to raise cash with the sale of the Chateau de Farcheville, a medieval castle outside of Paris. The 700-year-old building comes with a moat and hunting grounds as well as more contemporary amenities like a helicopter pad.

Her ex-husband Tim is selling his private Caribbean island, according to TheWall Street Journal. The five-acre property in Turks and Caicos comes with a nine-bedroom house, pool and tennis court. The asking price is $75 million, but Blixseth might have the right idea in this market. He's also entertaining trades.