Living Like a Billionaire For a Single Day

Kevin Roose is a writer for the Dealbook blog at The New York Times. For his most recent story, he wanted to see what it would be like to live like a billionaire for a day

First, you’ve got to appreciate this introduction:

As a reporter who writes about Wall Street, I spend a fair amount of time around extreme wealth. But my face is often pressed up against the gilded window. I’ve never eaten at Per Se, or gone boating on the French Riviera. I live in a pint-size Brooklyn apartment, rarely take cabs and feel like sending Time Warner to The Hague every time my cable bill arrives.

And then we get to Kevin’s reporting:

Really, I wondered, what’s so great about billionaires? What privileges and perks do a billion dollars confer? And could I tap into the psyches of the ultrawealthy by walking a mile in their Ferragamo loafers?

At 6 a.m., Mike, a chauffeur with Flyte Tyme Worldwide, picked me up at my apartment. He opened the Rolls-Royce’s doors to reveal a spotless white interior, with lamb’s wool floor mats, seatback TVs and a football field’s worth of legroom. The car, like the watch, was lent to me by the manufacturer for the day while The New York Times made payments toward the other services.

Mike took me to my first appointment, a power breakfast at the Core club in Midtown. “Core,” as the cognoscenti call it, is a members-only enclave with hefty dues — $15,000 annually, plus a $50,000 initiation fee — and a membership roll that includes brand-name financiers like Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group and Daniel S. Loeb of Third Point.

And the key takeaways:

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that when you’re a billionaire, you’re never alone. All day, your life is supervised by a coterie of handlers and attendants catering to your whims. In the locker room alone after my workout, I feel unsettled. Where’s my bodyguard? Where’s my chauffeur? Why is nobody offering me an amuse-bouche while I shampoo my hair?

I feel bad admitting it, but my billionaire day has been stressful. Without an assistant, just keeping up with the hundreds of moving parts — the driver, the security detail, the minute-by-minute scheduling — has been a full-time job and then some.

Readings: Goldman, Tweeting Library, Mona Lisa, Jefferson County, Billionaire’s Yacht

Here’s what caught my attention over the last few days…

(1) “S.E.C. Accuses Goldman of Fraud in Housing Deal” [New York Times] – this was the biggest bombshell of the day, and it sent the markets tumbling. GS stock finished $23.57 lower than it started at the beginning of the day, a drop of nearly 13%.

(2) “How Tweet It Is! Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive” [Library of Congress] – in what appears to be a belated April Fools’ joke, the blog of Library of Congress announced that every single public tweet since Twitter’s inception in 2006 will be archived. The announcement was posted on Twitter and the news spread like wildfire through the Twitterverse. I understand that there is a benefit to archiving public tweets, but it remains to be seen what the Library of Congress will do in order to allow filtering the tweets. Something else I’m curious about is how the Library of Congress (or whoever manages this overwhelming project) will differentiate the public vs. non-public tweets: Twitter users can set their accounts to public or private at will, so it’s unclear what will happen to those tweets which used to be private but are now public or vice versa.

(3) “Stealing Mona Lisa” [Vanity Fair] – a fascinating piece about the world’s most famous painting. Did you know that Pablo Picasso was brought in for questioning after the Mona Lisa was stolen in the early 1900s? It’s true! And in case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like seeing the world’s most famous painting, here’s what the scene looks like at the Louvre Museum.

(4) “Looting Main Street” [Rolling Stone] – a provocative piece by Matt Taibi, exploring the rise and fall of Jefferson County, Alabama. [via]

(5) “Baccarat Meets Bomb-Proof Glass on the High Seas” [Wall Street Journal] – it’s simply known as the “A,” but this $300 million yacht, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, defies definition. It’s extravagance unparalleled.