How the ultra-wealthy attend Burning Man, from $55,000 private jet flights to personal chefs - and why other burners aren't happy about it

burning manJim Rankin/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesThe private jets and luxury camps used by ultra-wealthy burners have received pushback from other attendees and the event's organizers alike.Jim Rankin/Toronto Star via Getty Images

  • Burning Man, the nine-day art-focused event in the middle of the Nevada desert, is favorite of celebrities and tech CEOs alike.
  • Roundtrip private flights from New York to the temporary airport that services the event ground cost $55,000, private jet booking company Jettly CEO Justin Crabbe told Business Insider.
  • Some ultra-wealthy burners also opt to stay in luxurious camps that employ private chefs and can charge as much as $50,000 for nine days, according to The New York Post.
  • Ultra-wealthy burners have received pushback from other attendees and the event's organizers alike.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With enough money, nine days in a remote part of the desert can be a glamorous undertaking.

Most people who attend Burning Man make the 140-mile drive to the event's location in the Black Rock Desert, pitch tents, and survive off of non-perishable food. Not so for many of the celebrities and Silicon Valley CEOs who attend the event.

Read more: Inside the exclusive Italian resort that plays host to Google Camp, the secretive and star-studded annual conference that draws billionaires, CEOs, and celebrities

The event prohibits attendees, called burners, from buying and selling anything other than ice and coffee, which means that ultra-wealthy burners have to go to extraordinary lengths to maintain the level of luxury that they're accustomed to.

Keep reading to learn more about how the ultra-wealthy experience Burning Man.

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Private jets are the preferred method of transportation to Black Rock City for the 1%.

Private jets are the preferred method of transportation to Black Rock City for the 1%.

A private flight on a Super Mid jet that seats eight to 10 people from New York to Black Rock City costs about $55,000 roundtrip for the entire group, private jet booking company Jettly CEO Justin Crabbe told Business Insider.

The company has scheduled at least 20 flights to the event this year.

For Jettly's ultra-wealthy clients, "the party starts long before they get to Black Rock City," Crabbe said.

For Jettly's ultra-wealthy clients, "the party starts long before they get to Black Rock City," Crabbe said.

The only thing that isn't included in chartering a jet through Jettly is catering, Crabbe said — but the company will accommodate guests' request for an extra fee.

One group requested that their flight be catered by upscale New York City Japanese restaurant Nobu, while another ordered 15 bottles of champagne for the flight, Crabbe said.

When one-percenters step off their flights, they "aren't going to see much," Crabbe said.

When one-percenters step off their flights, they "aren't going to see much," Crabbe said.

Burning Man's organizers set up a temporary airport for ultra-wealthy burners' jets, according to Crabbe. The airport has two runways and no permanent structures, not even an air traffic control tower. Only specially trained pilots with permits allowing them to fly into the Black Rock desert can land there.

The airport also lacks any formal ground transportation like shuttles or car service, Crabbe said, forcing burners to travel the 20 miles from the airport to Black Rock City in pre-booked cars, golf carts, or on foot.

"It's no LAX or Teterboro," Crabbe said.

When they do arrive in Black Rock City, luxury camps are waiting.

When they do arrive in Black Rock City, luxury camps are waiting.

Billionaire burners don't erect their own tents like other attendees, they simply check in at so-called "fancy camps." Some "fancy camps" have communal areas with furniture, chandeliers, and working ceramic foundations, Insider's Aly Weisman previously reported.

Other "fancy camps" are made of groups of luxury RVs. Spending the nine-day festival in a camp like this can cost as much as $50,000, according to The New York Post.

However, wealthy burners still have to use outhouses.

Read more: Here's what the inside of a 'fancy celebrity camp' at Burning Man looks like

Wealthy guests get around in tricked-out golf carts and cars called "art cars."

Portuguese model Sara Sampaio posted a photo of herself in front of a cart in 2016, writing "I needed the burn so badly this year! What a place! Even sick loved every minute of it!"

However, some celebrities, like Heidi Klum and actress Kelly Rohrbach, prefer to get around on bikes like the non-1% burners. Katy Perry, for one, posted a video on Instagram of herself riding a Segway at the event in 2015.

Some "fancy camps" hire private chefs for the week.

Some "fancy camps" hire private chefs for the week.

Los Angeles-based private chef Keven Lee charged the 180-person camp that hired him in 2018 $250,000 to prepare four meals a day, according to The New York Post. Alcohol costs extra.

Lee brought six assistants and six vehicles full of equipment, including two refrigerated trucks, to Black Rock City to help him prepare restaurant-quality meals with fresh meats and produce in the middle of the desert, the Post reported.

Arguably the biggest perk of the "fancy camps" is their privacy.

Arguably the biggest perk of the "fancy camps" is their privacy.

The "fancy camps" are often separated from the rest of Black Rock City by a wall of RVs or a line of black tarps, according to Vox. Most camps welcome outsiders in and offer them food and drinks, in keeping with Burning Man's ethos, but the "fancy camps" are more exclusive.

However, the event's organizers say luxury takes away from the Burning Man experience.

However, the event's organizers say luxury takes away from the Burning Man experience.

Radical inclusion, decommodification, and radical self-reliance are three of Burning Man's 10 principles, and some attendees of the "fancy camps" violate all three, according to The New York Times.

The event banned one luxurious camp, Humano the Tribe, from participating in 2019 because it had previously broken a rule against damaging the environment, according to The Times.

"Our job is to shine a light on an issue and do our part," Marian Goodell, the CEO of the Burning Man project, told The New York Times. "Because you are building a community, you need to act like a community. You don't have transactions and businesses. You don't have velvet ropes."

As Burning Man cofounder Will Rogers told Vox in 2014, "After the first dust storm, we're all the same color."

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