An Auction Site for the Rich

Millionaires exchange goods on BillionaireXchange.

by staff writer
- Nov 12, 2009

In the market for a Gulfstream jet? Have a castle you're looking to sell? Then it might be worth your time to check out a new marketplace aimed at attracting the rich.

BillionaireXchange, which debuted this week, is the "first online auction and trade site for luxury items," according to its About page. While anyone can browse through the items up for auction, only members can buy or sell goods on the site. Currently, visitors will find art, diamonds, fine liquors, expensive cars and even resorts up for sale. At press time, the site listed a six-cabin superyacht with an opening bid price of $49 million.

"Imagine trading your mansion in Beverly Hills for a chateau in France or your antique Rolls Royce for a new model Bentley… The possibilities are endless," notes the marketplace's Web site.

While the name of the site is "BillionaireXchange," you don't have to be a billionaire to become a member. A minimum net worth of $2 million is all that's required. But calling the site "MillionaireXchange" would not be enough to entice potential members, says Quintin Thompson, the site's co-founder. So "BillionaireXchange" it is. He adds that the martketplace's membership currently comprises 12 billionaires and more than 26,000 multi-millionaires.

"Our audience consists of technology-savvy luxury buyers who have been lost between the old auction-house model and common online retail and auction sites that can devalue luxury products," he says. "BillionaireXchange not only helps affluent buyers purchase products, but also provides a resource for people looking to liquidate assets in a private and secure environment."

All members must go through a thorough screening process, he reports. And the company appraises and escrows all items purchased through the service to prevent fraud.

"If a $30 lamp doesn't show up, you're not going to be too crushed," Thompson reports, "but a $50,000 watch is a different story."

But some billionaires aren't sure if the site will take off. Phil Ruffin, the 193rd richest man in America is worth $1.85 billion. He says the marketplace doesn't interest him.

"I never buy anything without having a look at it and kicking the tires," he says. "Half of the fun of buying a big item is negotiation with the owner."

Nevertheless, BillionaireXchange did well during its trial run earlier this year, Thompson says. During that time, 68 transactions were completed, totaling $180 million. The company didn't charge a commission during that time, but it will, now that the site is public.

Current members are allowed to invite friends, family and associates to join, as long as they meet the requirements. Those who request membership are charged an annual fee "to ensure membership remains highly exclusive," BillionaireXchange notes.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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