The Ugly Side of Getting Rich
April 20, 2017 11:09 AM   Subscribe

In one photograph, the German-born, Harvard-educated hedge fund manager Florian Homm, who made and lost a personal fortune of more than $800 million, poses in a German brothel that he once co-owned. In another, Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines accused of stealing billions from state coffers, sits in her Manila apartment beneath a gold-framed Picasso. Later on, a 43-year-old Chinese billionaire Huang Qiaoling is pictured walking from his mansion, built as a full-scale replica of the White House, to his chauffeured Mercedes S Class. Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth will be published in May. Dozens more similarly lavish and disconcerting vignettes fill Generation Wealth (Phaidon, 2017), a 504-page monograph by Lauren Greenfield and out on May 15.

More images from the photographer are available here and here. Previously.
posted by Bella Donna (44 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, will you look at that. What would you call that? Hosplaying?
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:20 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Well, will you look at that. What would you call that? Hosplaying?

There's one in Atlanta, too.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:23 AM on April 20


Three-quarters scale? Feh. And the swimming pool kind of spoils the effect.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:30 AM on April 20


Yours for only $49.79!
posted by googly at 11:30 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


FTFA: (Emphasis mine.)
Workers in Beijing complete construction of the Zhang Laffitte Chateau hotel, a replica of France's 17th century Château de Maisons-Laffitte, in 2005. The project displaced hundreds of peasant farmers to make way for what will be the centerpiece of a large real estate development. They can apply for low-wage jobs maintaining the estate.
Oh, for gross.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:32 AM on April 20 [18 favorites]


just an s class?
posted by ryanrs at 11:33 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Really, there's no pretty side to incredible wealth. Its all ugly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:35 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]


The Chateau is from 17th century France. What comes next is from 18th century France.
posted by Horkus at 11:35 AM on April 20 [81 favorites]


I suppose by comparison the 'seasonal closet' at the top of the article is the picture of restraint.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 11:36 AM on April 20


Clicked on first link... Gah! Suzanne Rogers.

More pics of her and all her stuff.
There's closets and then there's Suzanne's closet (fashion porn might be the best way to sum it up). … And the best part? She's managed to raise over one million dollars for charities around the globe - while doing it in her sky-high baby blue YSL pumps nonetheless. And she seems to do it all (with Birkin in hand) while raising three beautiful children. Take note and follow by Mrs. Rogers’ example - we'd love to see more Canadians decked out in Moncler Gamme Rouge during our winters.
posted by Kabanos at 11:41 AM on April 20


My first thought is how trashy it all looks. I feel embarrassed for these people and sad that their focus in life if so clearly on the wrong things.
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 11:42 AM on April 20 [22 favorites]


The Chateau is from 17th century France. What comes next is from 18th century France.

This is in a country that already had a Communist revolution not all that long ago, so that doesn't seem to stick very long. Though the French one didn't stick very long either.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:45 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Paging Pierre Bourdieu, paging Pierre Bourdieu. Pierre Bourdieu to the courtesy phone, pleaded.
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:47 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


more as a destructive addiction than a path to self-improvement

If only they could destroy themselves without taking the rest of us down too.
posted by klanawa at 11:52 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


By the very nature of the project, this is biased toward only the most image-hungry, vain, and desperate for attention.

I mean, point and laugh, but let's not pretend they're all clowns like these people. To some degree I feel this project tends to reduce righteous outrage, inasmuch as it makes the wealthy seem like unusually ill-trained toddlers, rather than planet-sucking monsters.
posted by aramaic at 12:04 PM on April 20 [13 favorites]


Great post, we always appreciate more names for the list!
posted by Madame Defarge at 12:10 PM on April 20 [65 favorites]


Ugh. The Birkin Bag.
“And not all of these people could access the [Hermes Birkin] bag, obviously, it’s too expensive. But it’s just that there’s this knowledge about something that seems like such a fringe experience.”
The Birkin bag is literally made so that it can't be sold to anyone but Hermes' best clients (as in, those that spend the most money). It has nothing to do with the cost of the product.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:11 PM on April 20 [12 favorites]


The point of that sort of fashion is the money spent, right? Otherwise it seems like it would be cheaper and more exclusive to just hire a designer to create bespoke pieces.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 12:14 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


The thing that bring me comfort about The Birkin Bag is that someday, some tube of lotion will explode in it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:18 PM on April 20 [24 favorites]


sad that their focus in life if so clearly on the wrong things.

On the other hand, if you're rich enough you can do this crazy shit without even focusing on it.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:18 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Lifestyles of the nouveau riche and wannabe famous.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:25 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Great post, we always appreciate more names for the list!
posted by Madame Defarge at 12:10 PM on April 20 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This is perfect and beautiful.
posted by nonasuch at 12:33 PM on April 20 [13 favorites]


From the article: "...for others, status symbols go only so far. 'I think one of the things we’ve seen in a lot of the characters [in her book] is that money is an enabler of what’s already there,' she said. 'David Siegel [the time-share king] said that money doesn’t make you happy—it makes you unhappy in a better part of town. I love that, because who should know better than him?' "
posted by Bella Donna at 12:49 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


I'm happiest walking in the woods all day and sleeping in the dirt, just to do it again in the morning. I'll compartmentalize whatever soul-crushing job it is to be able to afford that and minimize the hours I need to achieve it as much as possible.

Being miserable, that's what's expensive.
posted by alex_skazat at 12:49 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


This book will be useful when the revolution comes and we need to know who's next to be against the wall. First wave of course will be all political and that might take a while given the new administration. Next is all those who worked at Fox TV when Firefly got cancelled. Third will be the heads of the IOC, FIFA, the NCAA, and the NFL. And of course the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. But after that, these people.
posted by Ber at 12:52 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


A little surprised this wasn't published by Assouline or Taschen in a folio-sized, slipcased, limited edition.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:52 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid (young teen, pre-teen) I used to watch 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' and wanted to be rich. But the more I actually see of the 'lifstyles' of the rich, the less appealing it is to me.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be worth 5-10 million. But I sure as hell wouldn't want to be worth 100-500 million.

Part of me thinks that such wealth inevitable leads one to being very lonely. Sure, you can hang out with other stupid rich people, but it's a pretty limited range of people - and most of them I wouldn't want to hang out with.
posted by el io at 1:09 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


I just picked up Girl Culture from the same photographer from a used book shop; it's great but what's funny is the intense reactions I've gotten about it from basically everyone else that's seen it on my coffee table. Men and women alike seem horrified. I found a lot to identity with, personally, but I'm also a documentary photographer and appreciate it on that level. She directed Queen of Versailles which was also alternatingly horrifying and sympathetic (if I remember correctly?). I'm looking forward to this book.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 1:14 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


"I am honoured to be on very good terms with some of the world’s most ruthless plutocrats. They are simple folk with two emotional settings: petulant anger or petulant ennui."

"Call me old-fashioned, but I believe there is a kind of nobility in this shared boredom, this shared rage-filled humanity.  The far-from-humble oligarch has much in common with the far-from-humble fascist princeling.  The far-from-humble Kyrgystani warlord is as cruel and impatient a patron as the far-from-humble  Texan stock wrangler. Extreme wealth is a great leveller." - Ian Martin
posted by mhoye at 1:28 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Really, there's no pretty side to incredible wealth. It's all ugly.

This is consumption, not wealth. Wealth give you the potential to spend money on whatever you want. For, say, Bill Gates, that's saving literally millions of lives. That's pretty damn beautiful. (He has a pretty nice $123 million house too.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:31 PM on April 20 [8 favorites]


When I was a kid (young teen, pre-teen) I used to watch 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' and wanted to be rich. But the more I actually see of the 'lifstyles' of the rich, the less appealing it is to me.

The point isn't that you shouldn't want to be rich, the point is that no one should be rich, at least not rich enough to own a super yacht or private jumbo jet. Money is power, and concentrated power destabilizes democracy. Common sense taxation isn't enough, but it's a good start.
posted by Beholder at 1:31 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


It turns out the richness was in their hearts all along.


And it was as miserable and shrivelled as their souls.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:42 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


Wealth give you the potential to spend money on whatever you want

Or as Andrew Carnegie (possibly apocryphally) said, "God has given me my money. Who am I to withhold it from the University of Chicago?"

I used to watch MTV Cribs just so I could feel superior to all those rich people with their tacky-ass houses. "Money can't buy taste," someone (possibly apocryphally) once said.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:17 PM on April 20


Buy guillotine futures.
posted by Slinga at 4:02 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


One of the many nice things about being rich is giving zero fucks about middle-class aesthetics. If I were rich, it would be goodbye tastefully mismatched mid-century furniture and HELLO Brideshead Revisited Murder Island.

The problem isn't that they're tacky, the problem is the exploitation of workers and the environment. In addition to not giving any fucks about nice middle-class taste, they don't care about middle-class people, working class people, any people besides themselves.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:11 PM on April 20 [13 favorites]


This is consumption, not wealth. Wealth give you the potential to spend money on whatever you want. For, say, Bill Gates, that's saving literally millions of lives. That's pretty damn beautiful. (He has a pretty nice $123 million house too.)

Just so long as you don't look at the economic reality of Microsoft's blatantly illegal anti-competition practices that enabled it to steal hundreds of dollars from almost every personal computer user on the planet for about 25 years. His company's crime was probably close to billions of petty cash muggings and a severally retarded operating system ecosystem. Buying millions of mosquito nets does not undo that.

I've yet to read about a truly wealthy person who wasn't in some way a crook.

The ugly of most of these people runs all the way through to the soul.
posted by srboisvert at 5:10 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


How rich do you all think Obama will be someday? I mean, he already gets invited to the private islands with Richard Branson and superyachts with Bill Gates. What's the ceiling?

Will the 99% ever turn on him the way we have these people?

What about Hillary Clinton?

When will we stop discriminating and be equal opportunity disdainful of and hostile to the ruling class? They've all figured out class solidarity. They are educated in it and believe in it 100%. When will we get it together the way that they have?
posted by turntraitor at 5:39 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


The only people I find impressive in those photographs are the Chinese builders. I hope they take over the mansion.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 6:37 PM on April 20


I used to watch MTV Cribs just so I could feel superior to all those rich people with their tacky-ass houses.

It might be interesting to go back to those episodes to see who out of those people are still rich and living in those (or other) tacky-ass houses.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:13 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


How rich do you all think Obama will be someday?

it's not about wealth as such, in my opinion. obama contributed massively to the welfare of the world by leading the united states in a responsible manner for 8 years. other ultra rich people, like, say, bill gates, have helped people through committed philanthropy. it's way too simplistic to compare people like them to some socialite who inherited massive wealth and built a "seasonal closet" or a 17th century replica chateau. rich people aren't all morally the same any more than the rest of us are. and that's true EVEN if you believe that the economic system that enabled them to be rich is fundamentally flawed.
posted by wibari at 11:19 PM on April 20 [11 favorites]


When will we stop discriminating and be equal opportunity disdainful of and hostile to the ruling class? They've all figured out class solidarity. They are educated in it and believe in it 100%. When will we get it together the way that they have?

We have figured it out, but they have perfected divide and conquer down to an art. I realize everyone here knows this, and it sucks that it still works even though we know they are doing it to us, but human nature is like Mike Tyson in his prime. It's a miracle that the ruling class is even slowed down at all.
posted by Beholder at 5:13 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


His company's crime was probably close to billions of petty cash muggings and a severally retarded operating system ecosystem. Buying millions of mosquito nets does not undo that.

Oh FFS. Parasite capitalist seeks to eradicate malaria, makes measurable impact? YAWN. First World nerds inconvenienced by same parasite capitalist? UNTHINKABLE CRIME.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:46 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Just so long as you don't look at the economic reality of Microsoft's blatantly illegal anti-competition practices that enabled it to steal hundreds of dollars from almost every personal computer user on the planet for about 25 years.

The way I remember this story is that Microsoft started getting brutal with its anti-competitive practices around '94 or '95. MS-DOS was Good Enough (and worked on the IBM PC, which IBM could have actually looked after at any time) but Windows was niche until Windows 3.0 back in 1990, when it became clear no-one else (cough, Apple, IBM, cough) was releasing a decent windowing system (cough, MacOS, OS/2, cough) for IBM-compatible PCs any time soon. If anyone had released a decent windowing system during that time, Microsoft would not have kept up, but they didn't. Apple wanted to use the superiority of MacOS to drive hardware sales (which worked until it wasn't the only game in town any more), the Unix people weren't going to release a home operating system that didn't force you to use a command line until well into the 2000s, and IBM spent most of the intervening time fucking up hard and relying on its reputation to get the productivity software companies to waste their time on ports instead of keeping an eye on Office. Unless you're talking about the Office lock-in, and I doubt you are, Microsoft earned their monopoly more or less honestly.

Of course, then they were a monopoly, and monopolistic companies inevitably act against the interests of their customers and society, but that's like expecting the scorpion not to sting people.
posted by Merus at 11:47 AM on April 21


(saving the derail for a separate comment)

and a severally retarded operating system ecosystem.

As far as a retarding the progress of operating systems, sure, maybe -- but you're completely missing the long view, how breakneck innovations in hardware were unlocked and commoditized by the commonalities of the Wintel platform, and also how that standardized hardware platform was exploited by free software.

If the Amiga had won in the late eighties, we would not have octocore CPUs, gigabytes of RAM, or GPU-fueled machine learning. Read the coda of The Future Was Here for more on this.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:50 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


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