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Moscow's Millionaire Fair, A Few Million Short

26. October 2009 by Michelle 0 Comments

This past weekend, Moscow hosted their annual Millionaire Fair, showcasing luxury items and services such as cars, boats, furnishings, gadgets, and even thoroughbred horses. Unfortunately, the global recession impacted the extravagant festival this year, with 30 percent less participants and even fewer attendees compared to last year.


The vendors that did show up commiserated together about how the failing economic situation has dented their businesses. “In the space of one year, my overall turnover dropped 40 percent,” said Mark Tuck, the head of Paradise Properties, which markets villas in Bali. Half of their clientele are Russian. Tuck admitted, “Everyone has been affected by the crisis, including the rich.”


Another real estate participant lamented over sales. “The crisis is hard, sales are down,” said Francisco Galvan, a representative of Anson Estates, a Spanish real estate firm offering multi-million euro homes in Marbella and the Dominican Republic. “We sold only two villas this year, compared to six in 2008,” he explained.


Other retailers maintained an optimistic attitude despite the slow sales. “Up until now things have been fine. Let’s see things in a positive light,” said Nasser Al-Hai, the head of Dubai-based Ultimate Motors. An upbeat salesgirl agreed, saying, “I don’t speak about the crisis. I think positive!” while polishing off the Swiss-made Zai skis that sell for $3,500 a pair.


Entrance to the Millionaire Fair was admitted strictly by invitation or a purchased ticket only. 22-year-old Oksana, a self-described “party girl of Russian high society”, was in attendance for her fifth year in a row. Although not a millionaire herself, Oksana likes the chance to escape the economic woes and sample the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous. “Just look around here at the high-end real estate, the yachts, the horses over there that cost up to 200,000 euros,” she said. “Here at the Millionaire Fair I can look at it, touch it, feel like I'm part of this luxury world myself.”


A passerby looking in on the fair had a different opinion. “The whole world is still in the middle of a crisis,” said 29-year-old project manager Igor, questioning if such a lavish event was really necessary. “But in Russia people have always loved glamour and luxury, and they like to show it off.” However, Russia’s rich are enjoying less of the luxurious lifestyle and many wonder how much more they can afford to lose before the recession ends. The 25 richest Russians alone have lost a total of 180 billion euros ($270 billion), according to Forbes business magazine.