Author Orhan Pamul spent his $1.5 million Nobel Prize money to build a museum in his hometown of Istanbul, based on his novel “The Museum of Innocence.” He conceived the novel and the museum together. When writing, he collected thousands of artifacts that reflect the story and its protagonist – a wealthy, self-centered man who collects things and steals from his love interest. Now open, the museum holds 83 glass displays including cigarette butts supposedly touched by fictional characters. Visitors can buy a copy of the book (and his others) in the museum gift shop.
British scientist Richard Roberts used his half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology (1993) to install a croquet lawn in his front yard. Franco Modigliani, an MIT professor who won the Prize in Economics in 1985 spent his money to buy a sailboat. And in 1919, during divorce negotiations, a confident Albert Einstein committed his anticipated Prize winnings to his soon-to-be-ex-wife physicist Mileva Maric (some academics say she contributed to his early work), although he wasn’t awarded the Prize in Physics until 1921. That year, he married his cousin and she bought three houses in Zurich.