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Is that the world's smallest violin I hear playing?
March 6, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Forbes has brought forth its annual string-of-zeroes-envy/porn-list of the world's gazillionaires. Missing from the list is Eike Batista, recently the seventh wealthiest individual in the world who lost over 99% of his wealth in eighteen months and his assets are being sold off.

Is he a victim of class worfare?
posted by dances_with_sneetches (61 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
My mind boggles. So much wealth in one person's possession and control is really obscene to me. But then to lose it all seems like a great tragedy.

Sometimes my sense of fairness and my sense of empathy are on opposing sides.
posted by darkstar at 10:37 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Don't feel too bad darkstar. 1% of 30 billion is still 3 with 8 zeros behind it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:40 AM on March 6 [23 favorites]


But then to lose it all seems like a great tragedy.

One half of one percent of thirty billion dollars is a hundred and fifty million dollars. So maybe not all that great a tragedy, as these things go.
posted by mhoye at 10:40 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Well yeah...there's that.
posted by darkstar at 10:41 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


It's only Monopoly money the world gets to plays with, anyway...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:47 AM on March 6


Sweet, I can finally get me some living room cars at rock bottom prices.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:49 AM on March 6 [10 favorites]


There is a strong suggestion that he may lose the rest of his wealth. The articles referenced above were from October/November when the loss was 99%. I couldn't find one from recent days that didn't repeat mostly the same information. He has negative personal assets now.

Bottom line is: it sounds like a fascinating story that is still waiting to be definitively written.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:55 AM on March 6


Something tells me he's the kind of guy who, even if he's lost everything, won't stay poor for long.
posted by slater at 10:57 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


I always try to put mind-bogglingly huge numbers like this in perspective, and while I don't always suceed sometimes it creates some funny results. For instance, I just did some quick googling and based on data from the International Dairy Foods Association on ice cream production, anyone in the top 50 on Forbes' list could buy ALL THE ICE CREAM PRODUCED IN AMERICA in a year and have money left over. ALL THE ICE CREAM!
posted by Wretch729 at 11:02 AM on March 6 [20 favorites]


Was this man worfy of such a fortune?
posted by Riton at 11:08 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


“She called me Goldesel,” he said, recalling the Grimm brothers’ fairytale about the good luck donkey that dropped gold pieces from its mouth.

Don't worry Mom he's still your little gold-dropping donkey.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:11 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Aliko Dangote is the first black man on the list and Dangote Cement is the first Nigerian company to have crossed the USD $20 Billion cap mark.
posted by infini at 11:11 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Now, if only we could somehow get them all together in one room. Anyone got any ideas? Maybe tell them they've won a free boat?
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:13 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Yes... out on international waters....I'm told anything goes out there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:19 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


"class worfare"

ಠ_ಠ
posted by Jacqueline at 11:19 AM on March 6 [10 favorites]


I think you mean

}|{
ಠ_ಠ
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:25 AM on March 6 [72 favorites]


recently the seventh wealthiest individual

Paywall fail.
posted by evil otto at 11:26 AM on March 6


ALL THE ICE CREAM!

"The rich are not like we are."
"No. For one thing, they have all the ice cream."
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:26 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


He's still got his Mercedes dealership though?
posted by biffa at 11:26 AM on March 6


Ok help me out here - what's the worfare thing about? Is it just mispelled warfare?
posted by Fuka at 11:29 AM on March 6


It's just the new MeFi holiday from yesterday, which has apparently spilled over into today. Relevant MeTa thread.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:34 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Worf Day was cute but please let's not make it Worf Week...
posted by Jacqueline at 11:35 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


I did include a gratuitousworfreference and lateworfreference among my tags. No worfs were hurt during the making of this post.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:36 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Jacqueline: "Yeah, Worf Day was cute but please let's not make it Worf Week..."

Besides, everybody is Worfin' for the weekend...
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:37 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


They winked at his bare knuckle business style

I suspect this means he destroyed functional companies, costing Brazil jobs and economic function on his erratic course. It's not like this guy's fall is just his tragedy....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:39 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Where worlf?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 AM on March 6


I don't get it. That guy looks nothing like Worf.
posted by slogger at 11:41 AM on March 6


Just curious, but why does Forbes still list Hong Kong as a "country of citizenship"? Hong Kong has never been a country and has thus never had citizens. So what does that category even mean? Are these people HK residents? Born in HK? Acquired/hold their wealth in HK? All/some of the above? What?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:51 AM on March 6


Who parks his car in his living room like that? And on top of those marble inlays? I mean, I don't care about the granite, but the marble will just soak up any kind of stain. At least put down some rugs -- jute or sissal or something, in case the undercarriage is dirty or sandy or whatever.

Good riddance.
posted by Malory Archer at 11:58 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I'm sure he just lost his fortune two days before a crack team of Cuban assassins dispatched by Castro was going to steal it.


That seems to be how things work for Batistas.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:06 PM on March 6


I am under the impression that gold mining in Ecuador is a euphemism for wiping out the rainforest and displacing/enslaving natives. On the other hand, he seems to have nobly stayed aboard his ship as it sunk. He could have probably have saved a lot more money screwing investors at the last minute and running off with billions.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:08 PM on March 6


Just curious, but why does Forbes still list Hong Kong as a "country of citizenship"?

I just jumped over to a local billionaire a friend works for to check, and from what I know he was born in Russia but emigrated to the US. It lists his citizenship as US. So I assume, Forbes lists "citizenship" as the country (or territory in the HK case) you have legal papers from.

There is still distinction between Hong Kong and Mainland China. Separate citizenship papers, currency, laws/constitution, and customs territories. Not to mention Hong Kong has a separate government system (that's co-governed by people handpicked by Mainland China).

Though, I don't think citizenship really matters as much for billionaires, since they can fly anywhere and probably hold citizenship and residency in multiple countries. So I do agree that it is kind of a weird and probably pointless category for the list.
posted by FJT at 12:08 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


These days, Batista is melancholic and dazed and yet still craving the kind of attention he once commanded, according to people who have seen him in recent months. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Sept. 15 that he would make a comeback, mentioning the example of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of PayPal (EBAY) and electric car maker Tesla Motors (TSLA).

Man, it's kind of depressing that you can be left with $150-400 million, as the article states, and feel like you need to make a "comeback". Mentally, wealth seems like a subtype of hoarding, except with bank accounts instead of belongings. It would also explain why few billionaires do the kind of wealth-draining, world-changing things that Bill Gates chooses to do.
posted by crapmatic at 12:10 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Man, it's kind of depressing that you can be left with $150-400 million, as the article states, and feel like you need to make a "comeback". Mentally, wealth seems like a subtype of hoarding, except with bank accounts instead of belongings.

I read somewhere that pretty much everyone living above the poverty level feels that, if they made 50% more, they would have everything covered, and they would be secure. That might explain a lot of fiscal pathology, if true.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:16 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Utterly unsurprised that this happened in oil and gas. From my not-at-all-lofty perch in the Energy Capital of the World, there's a few of these (or mergers and acquisitions, instead of bankruptcies) both already happening and well due.

It's mostly US shale operators at the moment, but Citigroup just took a bath (on a much smaller scale) on a Mexican oil company due to fraud. Oil and gas does tend to privilege the big talking cowboy type, and Batista fits that mold well.
posted by librarylis at 12:18 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I am under the impression that gold mining in Ecuador is a euphemism for wiping out the rainforest and displacing/enslaving natives.

I thought that term was "oil drilling in Ecuador"? Maybe it's just "doing business in Ecuador" in general?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:19 PM on March 6


Man, it's kind of depressing that you can be left with $150-400 million, as the article states, and feel like you need to make a "comeback". Mentally, wealth seems like a subtype of hoarding, except with bank accounts instead of belongings.

I read somewhere that pretty much everyone living above the poverty level feels that, if they made 50% more, they would have everything covered, and they would be secure. That might explain a lot of fiscal pathology, if true.


I think I talked about my cousin who sold his business for $100 million and "retired" (meaning he squeezes a golf game into his 20+ hour work days at his other business). My family threw him a big retirement party the following weekend. At the party he was all down in the dumps and when a couple of us asked him about it he was really sad that he could have held out for 105.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:23 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Think of all the jobs that have been uncreated.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:23 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


One sad consequence of Eike's fall: He bought the Hotel Glória, a beloved 1920s Rio de Janeiro landmark, took R$150 million in public money to rip out all the vintage interiors and furnishings for a totally unnecessary retrofit and then went bankrupt, leaving just its concrete skeleton behind. Cariocas hate him for that.
posted by Tom-B at 12:24 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


I read somewhere that pretty much everyone living above the poverty level feels that, if they made 50% more, they would have everything covered, and they would be secure.

Not me. I'd like twice as much. Oh, and I don't want to have to do any work for it, either.

Thanks in advance.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:27 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I always try to put mind-bogglingly huge numbers like this in perspective

I divide their total wealth by the average lifetime earnings to get sense of how many people's entire working lives they own. Then I barf in my mouth.
posted by srboisvert at 12:31 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


I just did some quick googling and based on data from the International Dairy Foods Association on ice cream production, anyone in the top 50 on Forbes' list could buy ALL THE ICE CREAM PRODUCED IN AMERICA in a year and have money left over. ALL THE ICE CREAM!

Not acceptable at all. Not even slightly.

No.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:36 PM on March 6 [64 favorites]


ALL THE ICE CREAM PRODUCED IN AMERICA in a year and have money left over. ALL THE ICE CREAM!
Not acceptable at all. Not even slightly.

No.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:36 AM


Eponsyterical, All-Time Grand Champion Division
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:38 PM on March 6 [39 favorites]


I do not wish upon this man a thermonuclear brain freeze.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:51 PM on March 6


I've got about a week's worth in the icebox, and I don't plan on selling, ever. You'll have to build your ice cream palace AROUND my stash, rich man.

I won't eat it, either, just point at it and say, "I've still got some, and you can't have any," just like I used to say to my brother.
posted by notyou at 12:54 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Spite makes everything taste better.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:01 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


What baffles me is that so many of his investors didn't actually appear to do the real due diligence to verify his claims. The utter lack of transparent investor reports from the "failed" energy companies seems to be a serious lack of proper accounting and actual research to back up the oil reserve claims and other things that appear to have caused the major investor retreat. I'm also curious as to whether that low 17,000 barrels of oil per day was due to there just not being that much oil. or if it was actually problems with production outside the scope of the statements made by the company before they started drilling.

Of course, a lot of what I'm gleaning from the way in which this guy is described (a self-described "efficiency" expert; that is a sure sign of an idiot), that a lot of the problems might have been simply unrealistic expectations of the benefits of efficiency versus that labor intensive, but much more accountable, methods of industry. I think the disconnect between the corporate "leadership" of a lot of companies, and the actual in-the-trenches productive work done by actual laborers, might be starting to make itself much more apparent as more of these large financial giants try to apply finance theory to physical industry. It's one thing to believe that you can get x amount of production for y amount of investment, but there is always an alphabet soup of other factors that will make achieving those stated goals a fantasy for a long time. Just thinking about off-shore drilling (even in shallow waters) alone is a nightmare of logistics and a huge amount of overhead to do it correctly. It's not like putting a couple guys no a raft and sticking a straw into the ocean. The engineering required is amazingly expensive, and the other random factors like weather and supply chains make it even more of a nightmare to do reliably. Same goes for mining and other extraction industries, not to mention the other support systems you have to have in place for those industries to function (housing, infrastructure, food, entertainment, etc, etc).

That investors were won over by this "bare-knuckled" approach just shows that investors don't generally know shit about anything other than spreadsheets and power point presentations. And that is a shame, considering how much of everything requires investor confidence, instead of investor prudence/diligence.

It is also sad to see so many people with gobs of money just throwing it at personalities, not at fundamental empirical data.
posted by daq at 1:19 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


Of course, if he wants to bounce back, he should model himself on the Donald. As much as I dislike the man, he was able to avoid personal bankruptcy and come back both financial and as a celebrity. Of course, that might involve stealing the alien being that lives on his head.
posted by Hactar at 1:29 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


That investors were won over by this "bare-knuckled" approach just shows that investors don't generally know shit about anything other than spreadsheets and power point presentations.

$5 says that these clueless investors are actually the professional investors that we pay specifically to not act like that. (If you have started a 401K or retirement account or other kind of managed account).
posted by anonymisc at 1:51 PM on March 6


I won't eat it, either, just point at it and say, "I've still got some, and you can't have any," just like I used to say to my brother.

Spite makes everything taste better.


you see, notyou, what would undoubtably happen there is that the power to your home (and freezer) would mysteriously fail for a while, until your ice cream spoiled. Problem solved.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 1:57 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


"$5 says that these clueless investors are actually the professional investors that we pay specifically to not act like that."

No bet. I don't have enough faith in humans as it is.
posted by daq at 2:08 PM on March 6


crapmatic: Man, it's kind of depressing that you can be left with $150-400 million, as the article states, and feel like you need to make a "comeback". Mentally, wealth seems like a subtype of hoarding, except with bank accounts instead of belongings. It would also explain why few billionaires do the kind of wealth-draining, world-changing things that Bill Gates chooses to do.

That's one of the reasons I support an absolute cap on total wealth; I don't think huge amounts of wealth actually benefit the wealthy, really. I think once you get past about 50 million dollars it's basically all about status and competition. It's so stupid, the wealth gets hoarded and not used as part of a dick-measuring contest when it could benefit so many people if it wasn't tied up. If they weren't allowed to have that much money their lives would basically be the same but many others would benefit.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:36 PM on March 6 [14 favorites]



That's one of the reasons I support an absolute cap on total wealth; I don't think huge amounts of wealth actually benefit the wealthy, really.


Wish I could favorite that about a hundred times.
posted by mordax at 2:48 PM on March 6


Wow, you have to scroll down to person #129 to get to someone who is worth less than $10 billion (Giorgio Armani, $9.9 billion). Less than $10 billion.
posted by sfkiddo at 3:56 PM on March 6


Wow, I bet he can barely afford his own suits for that pittance!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:21 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


"...And that is a shame, considering how much of everything requires investor confidence, instead of investor prudence/diligence."

This. Investment should be the boring work of expert consultants and accountants, not the excitement of chasing a hot new thing.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:58 PM on March 6


Buddy of mine (with money) hooked me up to watch over some guy (with money) for a few days. It was fun. But they have no conception of reality. Guy was drunk, all over the place, talking big to people who had a different kind of wealth and made their money a little more off the books (it was that kind of crowd).
So he's stumbling around and I'm trying to get his wife to control him and she says "Oh, he's just fine." And chuckles.
Yeah, but the bad ass in the white linen suit with cholo shorts with $4k in skin calligraphy might not be just fine.

It's weird. Being in the same tax bracket (or theoretically if one paid them) and ordering the same overpriced bottle service at a fancy, albeit war zone located, nightclub, does not make you the same people.

And what's funny is the gangster probably would have been in more trouble for shooting this guy (my presence excepted) if he got away with it. Corporate sharks are far more dangerous. Not in exactly the same ways. But way, way, more unforgiving.

Meanwhile, you gotta think the same thing coming down from there. How many people did you step on going up the ladder who are going to want to take a piece out of you now that you're down.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:03 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I was excited when I checked my Mega Millions ticket this week before I realized that I had only matched three numbers, not the six needed to win the jackpot. I won $5, but for a brief instant I thought I had won 240 million bucks! I would be set for life! I could take care of everyone I love for life!

$240 million is 0.3% of Bill Gates' fortune.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:10 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I thought I had won 240 million bucks! I would be set for life! I could take care of everyone I love for life!

$240 million is 0.3% of Bill Gates' fortune.


Would you have helped even 0.3% of the number of people Bill Gates has helped with his money?
posted by John Cohen at 5:59 PM on March 6


Him losing all that money is The Way Things Should Be. No one person should be able to amass that much wealth, and if governments are not going to forcibly take it away (and give it to the poor), then it's up to the Fates.
posted by zardoz at 12:30 AM on March 7


I feel like when they're mentioning twitter it's because information about it can be found with the most shallow research, and not because it's somehow relevant to him or his story.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:17 AM on March 7


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