Eye-spy wealth: cultural capital and ‘knowing luxury’ in the identification of and engagement with the superrich

Emma Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing upon a wider ethnographic study of superrich lifestyle mobilities, I reflect upon my experiences of working as an assistant within a yacht brokerage during a superyacht sales show in West Palm Beach, Florida. Specifically, I examine the role of dress and appearance in guiding (and at times misguiding) my identification of potential superrich clients during the yacht show. In turn I outline the four-step process utilized by yacht brokers both to qualify the wealth status of a potential client and to successfully engage with legitimate clients. In doing so, I reflect upon some of the constraints of conducting an empirical study of the superrich, including the need to demonstrate sufficient cultural capital of luxury leisure practices and material goods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-328
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
Issue number3
Early online date21 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • superrich
  • superyacht
  • dress
  • cultural capital
  • yacht show
  • luxury

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