Bill Gates’ Private Jets Are His ‘Guilty Pleasure’

Everyone has their own guilty pleasure. Maybe you treat yourself to morning lattes or spend blindly on collectibles. But when you’re as wealthy as Bill Gates, guilty pleasures come with much bigger price tags. The Microsoft co-founder admits airplanes are his guilty pleasure.

His taste for high-performance machines doesn’t stop with private jets, either. And some critics think it’s controversial for an environmental activist like Gates to own such gas guzzlers.

Bill Gates’ private jets ruffles environmentalists’ feathers

Bill Gates speaks at the 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 6, 2019, in New York City
Bill Gates | Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

Gates is one of the most public vocal influencers regarding environmental protections. In a February 2021 interview with Newsweek, he insisted the world would need to bring the current 51 billion tons of emissions down to zero within 30 years to avoid serious environmental consequences. Gates also promotes his book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, as part of his public activism. And that’s where the controversy comes into focus.

In stark contrast to his message about climate change, Gates is also an admitted fan of sprawling mansions, expensive cars, and private jets. Several years ago, he took to Reddit in an “ask me anything” forum and fessed up about his most expensive and guilty pleasure purchases. Citing that he couldn’t effectively run his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation without a jet, Gates said that “owning an airplane” is his guilty pleasure.

His expensive collection of airplanes and helicopters 

To really understand the scope and size of Gates’ guilty pleasure, consider the private jets and helicopters that make up the Microsoft co-founder’s fleet. A few of his airplane models include two Gulfstream G650s and two Bombardier Challenger 350s, Private Jet Charter reports. The Gulfstream G650 is considered the Rolls-Royce of jets, capable of carrying 18 passengers and reaching a top speed of about 610 mph.

Other models in Gates’ fleet include a Cessna 208 Seaplane and a Eurocopter EC 135 chopper. Simple Flying estimates the Gulfstream jets cost about $70 million each, while the Bombardier models cost $27 million apiece. Gates’ collection is worth almost $200 million — a drop in the bucket compared to his $130 billion net worth. And he doesn’t just buy airplanes; he also invests in Gulfstream, the world’s largest business jet service provider.

Bill Gates also loves his cars

Maybe he really needs those private jets for work and business travel. But Gates also loves high-priced cars. The Sun reported that sources believe Gates’ Seattle mansion can fit roughly 30 vehicles. And over the years, he has owned several rare exotics, including a Porsche 911 he bought in 1979 and eventually sold for $80,000. 

He’s also one of few owners of the rare Porsche 959, valued at $2 million. As a Porsche enthusiast, Gates also owns a Taycan, which aligns much better with his environmental position because it’s an EV. But he has a Ferrari 348, too, the last V8 model engineered before founder Enzo Ferrari’s death. Gates is known to have taken this legendary sports car for a ride in the sand, which is why the car is often referred to as “Gates’ dune buggy.” 

Even if Bill Gates’ private jet and supercar collections don’t exactly square up with his environmental message, at least he’s honest about it. He’s never hidden his guilty pleasure from the public. And considering he’s one of the world’s richest people, most observers wouldn’t expect him to own anything less.

RELATED: What Is the Cheapest Private Plane?