I have a problem and maybe you can help me with it.
I know who the richest person in the world is and it’s not Bill Gates. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that I know, totally by coincidence, the richest man’s daughter.
She lives in a ghetto. She has a roommate because she can’t afford to live on her own. She’s struggling with a business that she occasionally asks for my advice on.
One time she told me what her dad did for a living. She said I may have heard of him because he’s a “gambler”. I had heard of him in that context actually and knew many people who knew him from Las Vegas.
But he’s not a gambler. He did something in the 1980s that caused him to generate so much money it makes Bill Gates look like…I can’t think of the appropriate cliche here.
Basically, Bill Gates has a lot less money than this guy. Everyone on the Forbes 400 of the richest people in the world has much less money than he does.
You might think that’s impossible. Bill Gates started one of the biggest companies in the world. Warren Buffett owns fruit of the loom underwear AND Geico. Who could be richer?
But it would take me five seconds for me to explain how this guy did it and you would say, “oh, that was genius! No wonder he has more money than anyone.”
Why would he hide? I don’t know. The Forbes 400 tracks rich people whose wealth holdings are public knowledge. For instance, we know that Bill Gates has about a billion shares of Microsoft so that’s 40 billion dollars plus he sold some shares and we know how much. It’s all public information.
But if you do some ingenious tricky thing involving 30 different countries in the early 1980s and then that wealth compounds in various ways then nobody will know who you are.
There might be more people like him. I don’t know. I was told this guy was the richest guy in the world.
“Richer than the Sultan of Brunei?” I asked. And the people who told me, laughed. “Yeah,” they said. “The Sultan of Brunei can’t wash this guy’s shoes.”
I told them about his daughter and what a weird coincidence this was. They didn’t even know he had a daughter. “He never mentioned her,” one of them said to me. But it was definitely true. All the names and places and descriptions matched up.
She has no idea how much money her father has. She just thinks he gets by when he’s on a winning streak and she’s afraid to ever ask him for money. She talks about him all the time.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” one of the guys who told me about him said, and then the three or four guys in the conversation looked at each and one of them said to me, “he’s a strange guy.”
The other day I was talking to her. She said, “I don’t know how I can raise money for this business and I think my partner is trying to screw me out of my share even though she does no work.”
In other words, the typical problems that people just starting out in business have. That’s when she told me she lived in the worst neighborhood in NYC and that she might even get evicted and have to move to a different city if she can’t get this business going.
Let’s say you work REALLY REALLY hard even though you already had a lot of money and then suddenly you have an extra $10 million.
Then you die with that extra $10 million in the bank. That sort of means you just wasted all that time making that extra $10 million. You could’ve been laughing with your family.
I don’t want to judge. Everyone is a little bit strange. Every family relationship has its issues. My relationships in my family certainly do and I know many people who are quick to judge me before they think.
Why don’t I tell the daughter about the father?
Because who am I to get in the middle? Clearly there are issues here that go way back and I’m nobody and nobody has asked me to get involved in that way.
And there’s no guarantee that me telling the daughter would solve her problems. Or his.
My only point is: when you read the newspaper, about who is the “X” and who is the “Y”, then chances are they are wrong. The news is written by people trying to sell ads by having flashy stories. It’s not their job to be right but to be flashy.
And sometimes there is a man involved and a woman involved and every now and then there is a deep sadness in between. A deep chasm of despair. Money will never patch that sadness up.
What would you do?