“The name’s Bond… James Bond. Can I borrow a fiver?” Not words you’re ever likely to hear coming from the world’s greatest super-spy, right? (Although he does borrow a few million from Felix in Casino Royale). James Bond — silky smooth lothario, bedder of women, foiler of villains, driver and smasher-upper of fast cars — has always exuded a monied appearance. We’ll wager he’s never once had his credit card declined (minus M putting a stop on it as she did in Quantum of Solace) or had to phone his mum to transfer some money to his account to make rent. He’s got the lot: dapper clobber, the latest tech, the sexiest wheels and even a specific and annoying way of preparing his favourite cocktail. If he didn’t keep saving the world, you’d probably kind of hate him.
The question we’re all here to answer today as the latest Bond adventure No Time To Die hits screens is this: who does James Bond’s expenses? And does he have an upper limit? Do the poor, overworked accounting team at MI6 ever have to draw the line somewhere? Surely even they must have guidelines, rules that can bend but not break. They can’t keep giving him free cars and three-piece suits if all he’s going to do is riddle them with bullet holes. Exactly what would 007’s expense report look like?
Some financial aspects of Bond’s continued existence are unavoidable. If there’s a megalomaniac threatening to explode a warhead on a tropical island, 007 has to be on the next plane to that island paradise pronto — you can hardly stick him on an EasyJet and have him change at Cardiff. Bond’s tech budget is pretty much carte blanche: guns and gadgets are part of the gig, not an added extra. (Fun pitch for an alternate universe Bond ‘What If?’ scenario: a fiscally responsible Bond who has to pay for bullets out of his own pocket — I think you’d find there will be far fewer villains dying ironic deaths if 007 was responsible for underwriting all the ammo). Saving the world doesn’t come cheap, but surely, surely, in our age of austerity, some corners can be cut? Bond? Are you even listening?
So, we’ve broken Bond’s expense reports down into multiple categories across an average mission: we’re categorising the aspects of spyhood that come at a necessary cost, providing 007 keeps the receipts. One thing is for sure: Bond 100% does not file his own expense reports. You can practically guarantee he’d claim he “doesn’t know” how MI6’s expenses system works, and he stuffs all of his receipts, unordered, in a big fat envelope which he leaves on Moneypenny‘s desk with a Post-It note that just says ‘Cheers x’ with a little drawing of a gun barrel on it. The cad.
The most hotly debated regular expense at MI6 headquarters, I’m sure. Does Bond really need to spend thousands of pounds on a designer suit? Would a £65 two-piece from Moss Bros not do the job just as well? Apparently not: the kind of criminal enterprises Bond has to infiltrate can apparently sniff out a cheapskate by an inferior pocket square alone. Or at least, that’s what he tells the Accounts department. Money maketh the man. He learned the importance of snappy dressing from the dearly departed Vesper Lynd, according to Daniel Craig-era Bond films which rebooted the franchise with an adaptation of the first Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale, in which we meet a yet-to-be-licensed-to-kill, pretty green spy.
Bond will always need at least one high-end three-piece suit on an average mission, but should probably have another in reserve just in case he gets shot/stabbed/spills his Martini. Let’s face it: there’s absolutely zero chance he’s wearing these things more than once — have you ever seen him at the laundrette? I rest my case. 007 famously wears Tom Ford’s threads, and the average price of a three-piece is around £3,500. Multiply this by two.
But wait: there’s more! Bond cannot and should not be barefoot or gallivanting around in his stockinged feet — he needs a shoe, preferably two. A pair of black leather brogues from Tommy F is going to set Bond back around £1,100 — he simply will not wear a standard trainer or flip-flop while on duty. The man is also a master accessoriser: chuck in a £6,390 Omega Seamaster Watch, a pair of £2k Tom Ford sunglasses and some decent cufflinks (you can get a pair of matching Omegas for the low, low price of £360) and only then is the look complete. Now, watch him sweat through his shirt like a maniac and get engine oil all over his shoes.
Of course, an average Bond mission does not necessarily mean a trip to a casino or high-class ballroom — often the world of villainy will throw him a curveball. Therefore, there’s always a chance Bond’s expense report is going to come back with a ton of mad stuff on it: scuba suits, clown costumes, silk kimonos — there’s an extremely high chance 007 is clarting around in any number of elaborate disguises. Best just factor in a £5k buffer for the one-offs and say no more about it.
Average expense per mission: £21,850
Budget alternative: Bond rocks up to the Casino Royale wearing Bermuda shorts and an XXL ‘I’m With Stupid’ T-shirt. Unsurprisingly, they don’t let him in.
James Bond is possibly the world’s most travelled man. There can’t be many countries he hasn’t visited and destroyed a small part of. Exotic locations are all part of the package for your common or garden super spy: evil criminal organisations always seem to favour the ‘hollowed-out volcano’ sort of locale, as opposed to, say, affordable warehouse space in Wolverhampton. So 007’s passport is well stamped, and the man has enough AirMiles to put Virgin Atlantic out of business.
On occasion, if the mission calls for it, Bond may have to charter a private plane. He’s not flying coach, the poor lamb. For example, getting from Madagascar to the Bahamas, as Bond simply had to in Casino Royale, would cost somewhere in the region of £150k. 007 missions do tend to span across multiple countries, so you can multiply that figure by four, maybe shaving off a little for frequent flyer miles. That’s half a million quid on commuting alone, which is almost as much as an annual Zone 1-6 travelcard on the London Underground.
Once the wheels are down, the expenses don’t stop at the airport. Bond, being a man’s man, absolutely must drive the sportiest cars on the planet — how dare you even suggest he rent a family saloon. Presumably, it’s partly about giving him the best chance when it comes to evasive driving but let’s not overlook that it’s also about perception: a secret agent’s car is an extension of his person, so a man driving a Ford Ka isn’t going to be bedding any voluptuous double agents any time soon. (Sorry to those of you who drive a Ford Ka, but prove me wrong, guys).
Even MI6 draws the line at purchasing fresh motor vehicles fresh off the lot, so the reasonable alternative is renting a car — but seeing as the possibility of Bond totalling the vehicle in question is statistically 100%, he might as well pick up the tab. An Aston Martin DB11, an advanced version of the model Bond drove in Spectre, will set a chap back about £150k. So yeah. Apols, guys. Bond will take the L on this one. He swears he’ll catch an Uber on the next mission. ‘Whoops’.
A taxi would be an especially good idea for saving the taxpayer some money since his insurance costs would be sky high. Insurance company Cuvva calculates Bond’s car insurance premium would be a staggering £80,575.72, which they reliably inform us is 187 times the UK’s national average. We’re not including this in final calculations, though, as this would likely be taken care of outside of reimbursable expenses.
But don’t forget that curveball — it’d be remiss of 007 to assume that planes, trains, and automobiles would be his only necessary methods of transportation. Should the need arise, Bond will absolutely hire a helicopter to chase some skirt (£5,700 for six hours), or infiltrate an underwater base in a bespoke hydro-convertible car-boat hybrid (£132,000). What the hell, you might as well chuck another £150k of emergency transportation funding on the Bondfire, the world’s going to end anyway.
Average expense per mission: £800,250 (including petrol)
Budget alternative: Honestly, 007, would it kill you to drive a Subaru every once in a while? They were recently voted Hatchback of the Year by WhatCar Magazine.
FOOD AND DRINK
Bond is like us, in that he eats, drinks, and goes to the toilet (we assume, citation needed) but in another, more accurate way, he’s not like us at all, in that he eats only the pinnacle of haute cuisine and drinks only the finest wines known to humanity, and occasionally a Heineken. We’ve all felt the pinch of eating out three times a day while on holiday, but Bond doesn’t lose any sleep — he just whacks it all on his corp card. He’ll get a complimentary breakfast as part of his hotel stay and not even bloody use it, he’s James bloody Bond, mate.
Bond doesn’t Nando. He doesn’t Subway. He doesn’t even Tesco Meal Deal. Bond dines at the most exclusive restaurants in the most expensive cities in the world and he doesn’t even order off the Prix Fixe menu, because that’s just how he rolls, and if you don’t like it you can chuffing well get 006 on the case and have him fill his boots at the Pizza Hut lunchtime buffet (9am-3pm). Bond gets results, therefore he gets the window seat at those terrifying restaurants where they don’t even have pictures of the food on the menus.
Let’s use Spectre as our case study on what kind of catering Bond might expect while jet-setting around on an average mission, and let’s say for simplicity’s sake that he’s eating at the same restaurant on two consecutive nights. First, he hits up Mexico City, and an average meal at the esteemed Pujol restaurant is likely to set him back around £300 with a tip. In London, he’d likely stop by a classy joint like La Gavroche, which will cost him around £500 with some decent wine. Rome’s five-star La Pergola restaurant — the only one in Rome with three Michelin stars — will have a bill of around £220, and you can double that if he’s taking a grieving widow he’s trying to bed out to dinner.
To Austria next, where Restaurant Amador is looking at a bill of £260 per person — that’s a lot of schnitzel. Morocco is the next country on his journey — Bond’s holiday gut somehow not spilling out of his Tom Ford by this point — with a bill of around £300 from hotspot Amanjena Arva Italian, although to be fair that comes with live entertainment. Then finally, back in Blighty, he’d hit up Rules, the oldest restaurant in London (as seen in Spectre), in which he’d spend an average of around £400 on a solid meal (an establishment doesn’t get that sort of reputation by doing two-for-one burgers). Round that up to include the odd mid-day snack and 007 is looking at an expense report that’s claiming £4k on food alone. Because international crime syndicates never meet to discuss their evil deeds over cheesy chips.
Don’t forget alcohol, because Bond won’t! How many Vesper Martinis is Bond likely to sink over the course of a particularly gruelling mission? Let’s be conservative and say, over the course of a week, around 52. Sorry, but he is a functioning alcoholic and it is dangerous to pretend otherwise. At about a tenner a pop, you’re looking at about 500 quid on booze over one fun-packed seven day period (we cut off £20 from the final bill due to the statistical likelihood that a man who drinks as much as Bond does might accidentally find himself in a bar at happy hour).
Remember that time you filed an expense report for a coffee you ordered but didn’t drink and you spent a week freaking about it? Be like Bond: eat, drink, and be merry at Her Majesty’s pleasure and don’t even give it a second thought. Live and let dine.
Average expense per mission: £4,500
Budget alternative: Sausage and Egg McMuffin for breakfast, Happy Meal for lunch, Big Tasty for dinner — the McTrifecta. Bond has to cut the villain’s monologue short to rush to the bog for an emergency evacuation.
He likes a flutter, does Bond. Loves the sound of the rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat of the little ball spinning around the roulette wheel. So it makes sense that MI6 would indulge him and give him a little budget for gambling in his downtime. Of course, that one time where the British government bankrolled him to the tune of £7.3 million in that royale casino in Montenegro was just a one-off, he can’t use that excuse again. Really Bond? There’s another private banker to terrorist groups who also cries blood who’s setting up another high stakes poker game and you need another ten million dollars to be at the table? Pull the other one, mate.
No, it’s reasonable to assume that Bond could claim some of his gambling expenses back if he feels like the flirtation with risk makes him a more fully-rounded secret agent — and honestly, if he doesn’t keep his senses sharp, there’s a definite risk he could flake the next time the chips are down. You can’t have Britain’s finest secret agent vigorously scanning the rules pamphlet every time he’s asked to show his hand. Let’s say gambling expenses up to the value of £20k are MI6-approved — that’s enough for Bond to feel the big-boy thrill of the game while also impressing any nearby ladies who are into high rollers, but not so much that it’ll make the arse fall out of the Bank of England if he forgets whether aces are high or not.
Average expense per mission: £20,000 (winnings not reported)
Budget alternative: Aware that Bond likes a flutter during his downtime, MI5 tops up his Paddy Power account with £10 in free bets.
What, you think a man of James Bond’s lifestyle is scouring AirBnB for deals and special offers? Doubtful. He’s lived the high life for decades: if a hotel is not five stars, 007 is going to let you know about it in no uncertain terms. If the hotel lobby does not drip with ridiculous opulence, he’s going to throw a wobbly. If the thread count on the hotel duvet is not north of 750, he’s — well, you get the idea. Let’s just say Bond has certain expectations re: lodging. Certain exorbitant, unrealistic, unreasonably high expectations.
Let’s look to Spectre once more to set the scene: Five exotic cities, five painfully expensive hotels, two nights a pop, a continental brekkie in the morning if he’s got time before foiling any evil plans. No spa breaks or massages. No tipping the concierge.
Mexico City’s Las Alcobas Hotel (five star, natch) will cost Bond’s employers £350 per night. Back to London, he can expect a bill from the Savoy for £928 per night, minus any laundry costs. Rome’s Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie will charge him £765 per night — fancy name, fancy prices. Austria’s premier Hotel Raffl’s St Antoner Hof will set him back around £964 per night during high season. And for his brief stay in Marrakesh, the Hotel Mandarin Oriental will add £709 per night to his expense report. It is as yet unconfirmed whether or not Bond plans to nick any towels or little spa slippers.
Oh, and we should also account for any additional mini-bar expenses — for when the hotel bar is closed and another Vesper Martini simply must be shaken and slurped in his room. Honestly, Bond, mate, you’ve got a problem.
Average expense per mission: £8,000
Budget alternative: Travelodge is delighted to welcome back James Bond for an overnight stay in our spacious Deluxe suite, just a convenient 14-mile round trip via bus, tram, and train from the local crime syndicate headquarters. We’ll set your wake-up call for 4.15am!
One imagines there is a lot of damage inflicted on innocent civilians’ property throughout the course of an average 007 outing — cars totalled via thrilling road pursuits, market stalls smashed to bits during chase sequences, big Bond-shaped holes left in walls and roofs all throughout town. These people are just trying to make a living Bond, you brute!
The big collateral damage payments — your bombs and explosions and extinction-level events — are likely to be charged to the main MI6 account or written off by the government in an effort to stave off any international incidents. Still, you are probably right to assume that Bond and/or his handlers would make plenty of unofficial hush-hush payments under the table just to get through the day without upsetting the locals.
The average motor insurance claim from 2017/2018 in the UK was around £10,000 per claim. If you’re familiar with the way Bond drives — floor it, no time for seatbelts, leave everyone eating your dust, and get someone to check later that you didn’t run over any pedestrians — then it’s reasonable to assume that he’s dealing with at least five of these claims per city he visits. Points on his licence? You mean his licence to kill? That licence? Good luck trying to enforce a driving ban on this guy, he knows too many people in high places.
Then you’ve got property claims, houses and local domiciles battered into pieces by Bond’s big ham hands during fight sequences — like a punch-drunk oaf swinging his fists around after closing time, he doesn’t care whose property he destroys. The average UK property claim sits at approximately £6,450, a total which Bond would be all too happy to stick on his expenses, again times five. It’s not like it comes out of his salary, right? Perish the thought! What, he’s supposed to control his impulses and only engage in good clean bouts of fisticuffs in an appropriate setting where no local culture is at risk? Out of the way everyone, your stuff is in the way of his fights!
Average expense per mission: £82,250
Budget alternative: Unable to offer the locals any financial compensation, Bond gets to fixing their garden fence himself. While 007 is applying a second coat of Dulux Weathershield, Spectre drops a nuke on Paris. Eep.
TOTAL AVERAGE EXPENSE PER MISSION
With all costs relating to wardrobe, transportation, food and drink, lodgings, collateral damage and, um, gambling fully accounted for, Bond is looking at an average expense report of £936,850 per mission. Anything under a cool mil is a win in his book, the extraordinarily privileged git. Honestly, if he could stop crashing every single automobile he warms his butt in and fly via a budget airline, he could have reduced his expenses by 75%. But no: spy man wanty drive fast — what Bond wants, Bond gets, even if it’s your tax pennies that pay for it, probably, I assume.
No Time To Die hits screens in the UK on September 30, 2021 and in the US on October 8, 2021.
Click below to read our interview with the director of another much-loved modern classic, Breakdown.