Filthy Rich Feed

UBS Undeclared Accounts

UBS exec reveals private banking practices:

Mr. Birkenfeld told U.S. prosecutors that UBS holds an estimated $20 billion in assets for U.S. clients in undeclared accounts. These accounts generated $200 million a year in revenues for the bank, prosecutors said.

. . . UBS trained private bankers in techniques to avoid detection by U.S. law enforcement, including instructing them to indicate on customs forms that they were coming to the U.S. on vacation instead of business, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say Mr. Birkenfeld also explained how bankers advised clients to hide their wealth by purchasing artwork and jewels with funds from Swiss accounts. For one client, Mr. Birkenfeld told prosecutors he smuggled diamonds into the U.S. inside a toothpaste tube.

UBS provides philanthropic planning services as well.  It is all Wealth Bondage, after all.


Are America's Rich Boors Generous?

I had a chance to meet Pablo Eisenberg at Hudson Institute last week. Along with Tracy Gary, he is a long term advocate not just of philanthropy, but of social change philanthropy with an eye to those most in need. He has a eloquent and impassioned article in the current Chronicle of Philanthropy, "Are Americans Generous? - Not really." Now, how can a man who was captain of the tennis team at both Oxford and Princeton be a friend of the poor and disadvantaged? Yet he is, as is Tracy, who was herself born into money. For a certain class within the privileged classes, the felt obligation to give back is urgent. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48. Should children of privilege be raised with such ideals, and taught them through the liberal arts? Or, should each family just pass on its own values, however mean-spirited, venal, or cramped? Do we as a society have a stake in elevating the ideals of our ruling class?

I think again of Amy Kass and her book, Giving Well, Doing Good, an anthology of literary readings for thoughtful philanthropists. While she might identify as conservative, her readings would open a dialogue with any literate donor about self, family, society, virtue, self-reliance, obligation, and justice. This is not just about conservative versus liberal knee-jerks; it is about what it means to have a responsible upper class, or a true aristocracy, as opposed to a diverse bunch of rich boors. Amy could well convene such a conversation, no less than could Pablo. We are in this together, as a society. We cannot perhaps reverse the movement of money upward to the few. Can we  not at least try to elevate and renovate their ideals? Nobility - not much of it. As a self-respecting Fool I would willingly serve a King, or an Empress, yet my clients are so often just upstart businesspersons with no class whatosever. So, toss Amy's learned book in the Dumpster; ignore the ideals of Tracy and Pablo. Let's talk about Social Capital Markets instead. That is just vulgar enough to appeal to today's culturally illiterate money. Well, I am late for a consultation on a client's vision and values - Coming Candidia!


The American Dream: Obit

The New York Times points to rising inequality of incomes, and the increasing despondency of the middle class: "We are running out of smoke and mirrors." Yet the paper itself is little else but. What else can a paper be that is supported by ads aimed at those with an appetite for luxury? Fashion lifestyle deliverables include philanthropy. As displaced populations are shunted into Freedom Camps run by Halliburton, the Times will be running puff pieces on some bozo billionaire's gift to Yale. If I rail against the language of "philanthropic capital markets," it is because until we get below the language of money we will never heal the disease that wracks the body politic.  The language of brotherly love (caritas and philia)  - how does that sound this Merry Christmas? The Church Militant.


Ethical Luxury Chic

From Moscow comes an uplifting perspective from this year's IHT luxury conference:

Arnault and the next speaker, the designer Tom Ford, also gave strong emphasis to what is being called "ethical luxury" - the products that define their owners or wearers as people with human and ecological consciences.....

Ford summed it up starkly: "Luxury is not going out of style. It needs to change its style." He added, "We need to replace hollow with deep."

Replacing hollow with deep is the purpose of my work at Gifthub as a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, as it is that of my Mentor, The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars at Wealth Bondage. We are pledged to helping the ultra-wealthy be wondrous deep, whatever their educational, intellectual, aesthetic, ethical or spiritual shallowness. I do it through philanthropy; Tutor through corporal punishment. But we get to the same place: The Joy of Giving.


Billionaire's Bio's Provided as Public Service - Christmas Delivery Guaranteed

According to the WSJ what billionaires really want for Christmas is a flattering biography:

Mint Lifestyle produced a mini gift guide for its clients this fall. The most popular item was a commissioned biography, which it says wives are buying for their husbands. The books, which cost around $30,000, tell a person's life and business story.

Have I been saying this, or what? I keep telling you English Majors Rule! I will do your bio for free, friend, if you are worth one billion or more. Just stop by the Dumpster. We chat until I can fit you to the proper archetypal story, most likely Midas, The Emperor's New Clothes, Peachum in The Beggar's Opera, Tartuffe, or Madame Bovery, say, or Daisy Buchanon in Gatsby, or Trimalchio from the Satyricon. Then I write a satire that cures you of your vanity, leaving you chastened, but grateful that someone has at least taken the time to straighten you out, rather than shining you on.  Instead of the $30,000 that that these flunky writer's charge to swell your already distended ego, I charge nothing - strictly pro bono publico, and my pleasure! Healed, you can pay it forward, contributing the $30,000 to Inspired Legacies, my charity of choice. 

Hope Conrad Black gets a commissioned bio under the prison Christmas Tree.  Prometheus! For that I would charge. I can do it, I will do it, but that is a $50,00 piece of work if I can bring it off.


What Do Billionaires Want?

Caroline Garnham, of Lawrence Garnham, with an estimated 30 billionaire clients:  "Wealth is like fire, if properly contained, it provides warmth but uncontained it can burn and destroy absolutely.” The answer, apparently, is to run family governance like corporate governance. If you have a billion, don't get burned! Contact Caroline  for more information. (Not a solicitation. We at Gifthub always recommend that you seek and rely upon your own legal counsel.)