On August 25, representatives for famed Russian Oil and Gas Tycoon, Roman Abramovich, reported in a London press release that the billionaire playboy has just added a new toy to his already impressive collection of yachts, planes and homes…
An entire star system.
At a distance of 4.2 lightyears, or about 24 trillion miles, Alpha Centauri may be Roman Abramovich’s most distant piece of real estate, but it’s also his most expensive.
“The property was appraised using a unique formula first invented to evaluate distant colonial settlements,” Lloyd’s of London’s Special Properties adjuster, Raj Devalia, said in our phone interview. “We had to accurately balance the star-system’s potential profitability with its extreme distance, and I believe that the sum of $3 billion is where that balance lies.”
The obvious question, however, isn’t necessarily the about price tag, but who the seller is.
“The chain of ownership was not the easiest thing to track, but it actually worked out quite well for Mr. Abramovich, given that he holds British residency,” commented Sotheby’s representative Nigel Ortkeisler. “Alpha Centauri was initially discovered in the 17th century by a priest at an Indian mission. However, it wasn’t until 1834 that John Herschel made the first mathematical calculations to accurately pinpoint Alpha Centuari’s position in the sky.
By international voyage and discovery law, the star system therefore became Mr. Herschel’s property, and like any other property, was passed down through the generations along with the rest of his estate. In 1957, Herschel’s great grandson and last living direct-descendant died intestate. With no heirs to inherit the star system, the property therefore reverted back to the crown, making the seller none other than the royal family.”
“The Abramoviches’ relationship with Buckingham Palace really moved this deal along smoothly,” Ortkeisler also noted. “Relationships are what make amazing deals like this happen.”
But all legal issues notwithstanding, there still remains one snag that no amount of money will remedy – at least not yet.
“Even if we perfect propulsion systems that are only theoretical today, it would take at least 100 years to make a one way trip to Alpha Centauri. With the technology available today, the trip would take millenia… I don’t know what that moron thinks he’s gonna be doing there, but tanning on the deck of some yacht on an alien sea isn’t happening,” remarked Dr. Leonard Reiserstein of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. “That is… If there even are any planets orbiting in that system… It’s a binary, you know… Guy should have really done some research.”
‘Binary’ refers to star systems containing not one but two individual stars orbiting around a common center of gravity.
Because binary systems create highly complex, chaotic gravitational fields, the sort of predictable, constant orbits we’re used to seeing in a single star system like ours simply aren’t possible.
For this reason, the presence of any planets is highly unlikely.
Even more unlikely are planets that have survived long enough to evolve any sort of life.
But regardless, the new owner is happy with his most recent acquisition.
When asked how he was planning to enjoy such a costly, yet distant piece of real estate, Mr. Abramovich responded via his blog:
“I have been working too much, for too long. It is time for Dasha and me to have some time to ourselves; away from the press; away from the business; away from the spotlight. They say it will take a long time to get there, then I will spend a long time. The day has come for my sons start to learn the business anyway. This will allow for extended vacations.”
“However,” he concluded, “I have always followed one rule in my life: Anything worth doing is worth doing for money. I expect I will identify many new opportunities when Dasha and I take our first trip there later this winter. She is already planning her summer wardrobe!”
As the owner of the world’s biggest, most expensive private yacht, the world’s biggest, most expensive private jet, and party to history’s largest divorce settlement (reportedly worth between $3 billion and $6 billion), it seems that Mr. Abramovich has no shortage of things to do here on Earth.
But we do wish him luck in distant space.
So far, the construction of an Abramovich space liner has only been rumored, but not confirmed.