Tony Stark vs. Jay Gatsby: Who Lives More Lavishly?

Movie Talk
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr.

"The Great Gatsby" is opening this weekend to a box office battle with "Iron Man 3." And prognosticators are betting the Robert Downey Jr. comic book flick will easily beat Leonardo DiCaprio as the star of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel adaptation, making "Iron Man" a likely candidate as the No. 1 film its second weekend running. ("Gatsby" is set to open at an estimated $30 million, according to Variety -- not too shabby.)

When it comes to these two films fighting it out, there are a few other grudge matches we've concocted that pit the leading men – an their respective fictional counterparts -- against each other in battles of the bucks.

Jay Gatsby's cost of living was recently analyzed by British money magazine, MyVoucherCodes. They surveyed the experts and adjusted their figures to today's costs (and not those from Gatsby's 1920s era) – leveling the playing field between the mysterious rich man played by DiCaprio and his modern-era money adversary, the ultra rich Tony Stark (Downey).

Gatsby would be spending the most amount of his money on his home on the Gold Coast of Long Island -- where mansions there run around $15 million nowadays. The magazine also got an expert guesstimate of the cost of his roaring and decadent parties -- up to $50,000 a pop. His clothes would be worth nearly $500 thousand and he would probably spend about $800 thousand for a staff of servants.

Counting the cost of gardeners, his weekly delivery of oranges, lemons, and champagne, his boats, cars and hydroplane -- Gatsby's entire cost of living was estimated by the British mag at just more than $34 million (the equivalent of nearly $3 million in 1920s money). Though Ryan Millsap, real estate professor at the University of Southern California, suspects that figure is too low. He factored in other things like fine art purchases and set Gatsby's net worth at more than $100 million.

Gatsby is most definitely loaded. But let's face it, we live in the era of billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. And our fictional richies reflect that: Tony Stark is a billionaire by definition. "He is a multi-billionaire," Millsap pointed out, adding, "That's in a totally different stratosphere [than Gatsby]." Millsap likens Stark to real life billionaire, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, whose net worth is approximated at $43 billion. And Gatsby's modern day equivalent: "It's Leonardo DiCaprio. That's the funny part -- he's playing himself from a lifestyle and net worth standpoint."

While it already seems like Stark is wiping the floor with Gatsby's bootlegged loot, let's crunch his numbers for fun.

Stark's Malibu, California, mansion is inspired by a real-life design. We asked an expert at Sotheby's who said if that very house was in Malibu (and not La Jolla, California, where it was built), it would go for about $40 million. That's in real life. Now one estimate took it a step further – creating figures based on Stark's fictional world -- and came up with a much higher $117 million-plus number.

No matter how you slice it, Stark looks on track to beat Gatsby's entire estimated cost of living. Add to that all of Tony's toys – his high-tech gadgets, arsenal of computerized, flying suits, not to mention his wardrobe, Pepper Potts's salary (and other staffers), and his other expenditures -- we're probably looking at a figure that's up to 20 times Gatsby's cost of living. (Given that the U.S. defense's research and development budget alone is close to $100 billion, $1 billion or so for Stark's lifestyle costs still sounds pretty conservative.)

But don't count Gatsby -- or Leo -- out just yet! DiCaprio has topped Forbes's highest-paid actor list twice, one more time than Downey. And in 2011, Leo's earnings were said to be millions more than Downey's recently admitted $50 million Marvel paycheck. Long story short – assuming he's not mismanaging his wealth, DiCaprio presumably has a whole lot more in the bank than Downey.

Look who's flying high now, Tony.

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