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3 billionaires reveal their hobbies: From $20,000 bicycles to collecting houses

Billionaire Clive Palmers mansion home and bike riders on a road.
Collecting real estate and rising bikes are just a couple of hobbies of Australia's billionaires. (Source: realestate.com.au/Getty)

If you ran a multi-billion-dollar empire, how would you relax at the end of the day?

As it turns out, some billionaires’ hobbies aren’t that different from the average person but, for others, it can be a bit more out of the box.

Take Clive Palmer for example, who has a penchant for collecting ritzy houses.

Specifically, waterfront homes in south-east Queensland, using his own cash.

“I don’t collect real estate really,” Palmer told The List.

“But any house my wife likes, I like. Happy wife is a happy life.”

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While Palmer didn’t put a number on how many homes he owns, there are dozens in his and his family’s names.

“It just evolves; I am 67 years old and I am just responding to normal [real estate] trends,” he said.

Palmer, who earns around $630 million a year from mining royalties, said he had an affinity for the Gold Coast.

Explaining the need to buy multiple residential properties, he said a lot of them were used to house his relatives.

“I have a big family; my wife is Bulgarian she also has a big family. So they are all living in the houses, both my wife’s family and my family,” he said.

However, some billionaires take a more restrained approach to their hobbies.

Take keen billiards player and multi-billionaire real estate developer Harry Triguboff.

“I should be a champion at billiards because I have been playing for 80 years,” he said.

“But I am not good at sports. It doesn’t matter; I like it. That is the main thing. I like it because it takes my mind off everything.”

The apartment king, who bolsters the skylines of Sydney and the Gold Coast by around 3,000 apartments every year, was personally worth about $20.81 billion on The List this year.

And Triguboff prefers to play alone in his waterfront mansion in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“The problem with somebody else playing is that I am half drunk so I am not as good as I normally am,” Triguboff said.

He started playing billiards in China after his father bought him a small billiard table when he was a child.

“It was in the attic and I always used to play with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, property developer Max Beck, 80, takes a more pragmatic approach to his sport than other members of The List.

“I have been a runner, a sailor of couta boats, and I took up riding when my legs started to ache from running in my early 50s,” Beck said.

“I thought, if I continued, I would end up with knee replacements. I am a great advocate of riding because there is no impact.”

Beck said the health benefits of bike riding drew him to the sport after suffering a serious injury.

“I smashed my knee cap, and the doctor said, ‘You will be riding in six weeks; if you weren’t a rider you would be out for six months’. Bike riding has no impact at all,” Beck said.

“I have a lot of mates who need to stop eating and get on the bike. About 80 per cent of my mates have got to stop eating. I say, ‘Listen, if you want to live longer, get on the bike.”

Beck has four or five bikes, which cost around $15,000 to $20,000 apiece, including one presented to him by friend Gerry Ryan, who owns the professional Bike Exchange-Jayco team that has won Tour de France stages.

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