Above the Law: Billionaires in the Bedroom

When it comes to sexual deviancy, the rich really are different from the rest of us.

Instead of hiring cheap hookers for an hour in a motel, they fly in high-end prostitutes for the weekend to frolic in their underground grotto. Rather than buying sex toys to liven things up, they'll build a sex vault complete with bondage and S&M gear.

The latest in a long line of lurid Lotharios is said to be computer chip mogul Henry T. Nicholas III, who allegedly built a $30 million underground grotto, complete with hidden doors and secret levers, at his equestrian estate in Laguna Hills, Calif. According to court documents unearthed by the Los Angeles Times, Nicholas is said to have planned a "secret and convenient lair" where he could indulge his "manic obsession with prostitutes" and "addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy."

The 47-year-old billionaire, who co-founded Broadcom Corp in 1991, had his private jet ferry prostitutes from New Orleans, Chicago and Las Vegas to his lair, nicknamed the Pond, where he provided his rock-star guests with drugs, including mushrooms and nitrous oxide, according to the draft complaint.

In addition, the complaint dug up by the Times alleges that Nicholas used the lair as his "personal brothel" until his wife caught him in the act with a prostitute, according to the paper. His wife, Stacy Nicholas, has since filed for divorce.

Nicholas' attorney Steven A. Silverstein told the Times that "all of the allegations are denied." In 2000, Nicholas told the paper that the underground facility was a "pump house" to handle runoff from his horse trails.

The allegations seem to echo other well-publicized cases. Publishing heir Richard Quadracci reportedly ran a gay sex club, complete with a 1,000-square-foot playroom equipped with a cross, bondage boards, harness power hoists and other X-rated paraphernalia, out of his penthouse apartment in Manhattan.

Quadracci claims that he only ran a Web site describing a bondage-themed bed and breakfast that he planned to open one day. Eventually, his condominium board sued him and the case was settled in early 2005.

Other notorious cases include Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier who was charged with felony solicitation of a prostitute for hiring underage girls to give him massages at his Palm Beach mansion. In that case, some of Epstein's lawyers including famed barrister Alan Dershowitz, reportedly embarrassed the girls by unearthing their MySpace pages on which they recounted their drug use.

The Palm Beach Police requested an investigation by the FBI after the state's attorney reduced the charges in that case. Currently, prosecutors are expecting the case to go to trial and a case disposition hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16.

The types of sex and erotic indulgences may vary in each case but they're all made possible by having money.

"The rich aren't more prone to extreme sex but they are more likely to have the resources to spend on it," said Manhattan-based therapist Ian Kerner. "There are the $2 toothless hookers and the $20,000 call girl virgins but there's still work for all of them."

Kerner believes that extreme sexual appetites have less to do with money than with core desires and instincts shaped by genetics and your upbringing. But being wealthy and powerful allows you to indulge those cravings -- sometimes with unexpected results.

"I've had cases working with Wall Street bankers who always have to be about testosterone and they never get to explore their feminine side or their vulnerable side and these guys often go to dominatrixes and explore being whipped and spanked," said Kerner.

They also may feel that their wealth is undeserved and that they need to be humiliated. "The investment banker who's mastered the universe just wants to chill out and be dominated."

Wealthy men and women who are in the public eye may already feel above the law but they seek the thrill of putting themselves in high-risk situations. "These are people who feel they can do what they want all the time," said Gini Graham Scott, the author of "Homicide by the Rich and Famous."

"The money lets them indulge every whim and eccentricity and they have the freedom to experiment," she explained. "But once they achieve a certain thrill, they need to expand that. After a while, it gets boring and they keep pushing the envelope on extreme behavior."

That certainly seemed to be the case with Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, who was hospitalized in 2005 after overdosing at the apartment of a 53-year-old transvestite named Patrizia. After a stint in rehab in Arizona, Elkann moved to Manhattan, launched a new line of sunglasses and started indulging new passions: speeding in his family's racecars. Bravo!