Still, the migratory patterns of today’s billionaires show how the super rich have developed their own self-contained global loop—with many of the same people going to the same gilded events far removed from the rest of the world. It is a movable feast of the top 0.01 percent, a further sign that the very wealthy from around the world now have more in common with each other than they do with people from their own country.
Richistan, in other words, is now the world’s richest, pop-up country—with its accompanying fleet of Gulfstream G550s, black Escalades, personal chefs, assistants, nannies and trainers.
“Some of them are looking for a community, and the best way to find it is people in a similar situation,” Friedman said. “So you get this ebb and flow where people are coming into and out of this migration.”
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The billionaires’ migration path is also a sign of how the values of the rich have changed. Rather than pursuing leisure as their main objective, today’s workaholic wealthy are foraging the planet for self-improvement and the best ideas—whether it’s at conferences or auctions, or elite sporting events and philanthropy workshops.
“There is a very important philanthropic focus to where they go,” Friedman said. “It’s more about philanthropic tourism than just enjoyment.”
—By CNBC’s Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter @robtfrank.