Even if you're not a financial peeping tom, the annual Forbes Celeb 100 list is still a valuable snapshot of pop culture. By checking its rankings, we know who's seen their hard work pay off, and who hasn't. In terms of earnings, yes, but more importantly in terms of visibility, influence and access. That, after all, is the true currency of global culture.
But big- and small-screen success doesn't immunize the world's glitterati from global crises. It's been a stressful year for everyone. And just like us, celebrities need to get away from the seemingly constant stream of bad news. (The markets! Swine flu! What about those nukes?) Considering that every celeb on the list is a millionaire at least once over, it's little surprise that the Celeb 100's getaways are also worth peeping at.
Take Simon Cowell, for instance. The acerbic "American Idol" judge was famous in England long before the U.S. learned to love (or hate?) his caustic, cutthroat comments to wannabe pop stars. So he's had years to find his footing among the world's rich and powerful. Though the globally famous television personality calls London's posh Holland Park home, he recently moved into a $22 million mansion in Beverly Hills; naturally, there's a tanning salon on the premises. Cowell also owns a villa in Spain and an "investment property" on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah Island.
But when Cowell is looking for a Caribbean vibe, he hops a private jet to Barbados, where he's reportedly sunk nearly $15 million into a six-bedroom vacation estate situated on 10 perfect acres. He's hardly the first celeb to take a liking to the island paradise. Hugh Grant, British billionaire Philip Green, David Frost and Andrew Lloyd Webber have soaked up its sun in recent years.
Not every celeb needs an $8,000-a-night island villa to relax. Some, like Angelina Jolie (No.1) and Brad Pitt, prefer the city to the sand. The planet's most famous couple is known for setting up shop in temporary homes around the world, typically determined by Jolie's or Pitt's work schedule. It's a good thing their children "like to pack," as Jolie told Entertainment Tonight.
Most recently, Jolie has been living in Long Island, N.Y., where she's shooting the spy thriller "Salt" for director Phillip Noyce. Pitt, meanwhile, has been spotted elsewhere around the world, both with and without the kids.
When this family of seven wants to get away together, they return to their 1830s mansion in New Orleans' French Quarter, which they reportedly purchased for $3.5 million in 2007.
While staying in their six-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom mansion getaway, Jolie and Pitt can indulge their other passion: charity work. Pitt sponsors the Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans, which solicits environmentally low-impact architecture designs. And together, they founded Make It Right, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to rebuilding the city post-Katrina.
Like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie—and many other celebrities on the Celeb 100 list—Tom Cruise has a lifestyle where work and play are forever mingled. When he's not in a far-flung land filming his next blockbuster, he's promoting his current one. For certain movie premieres, he brings along wife Katie Holmes and their daughter Suri.
Self-proclaimed King of All Media Howard Stern prefers to get away to his own home. When he and Beth Ostrosky were married in October, 2008, they didn't honeymoon in Bali or Hawaii or even Niagara Falls. They went to their favorite place in the world: Southampton, N.Y. "There’s no place we’d rather be,” Ostrosky told Hamptons magazine in 2008, citing their weekend getaways when the shock jock was courting the 36-year-old model/actress.
Their newly renovated 16,000-square-foot beachfront home, which Stern purchased for $18.75 million in 2005, features two bowling alleys and a "shoe room." The latter, presumably, is for the bride.
Whether you're hopping a jet to your own faraway getaway or sticking close to the comforts of home, someone on the Celeb 100 list has the same idea.