Last night I went to the film premiere of Born Rich. Jamie Johnson (of Johnson and Johnson) directed and produced this documentary which is being distributed by HBO. It was quite an interesting perspective into the lives of children of the very wealthy. Supposedly, money is something never openly discussed growing up among their families but as each of the 10 people start talking about their wealth, it is quite an interesting look into what being born rich means.
Like anyone, some people appear to be more grounded than others. Ivanka Trump came off seemingly grounded and real considering she has grown up in the press, surrounded by divorce, and controversy.
Imagine becoming 18 years old and now you are worth somewhere between $100 – $200 million. You don’t have to work. But, how do you feel good about yourself? How can you feel normal surrounded by people that are perhaps uncomfortable by your money? Money after all is a weird thing. Noone likes to talk about it.
The most interesting person in the film was the heir to the Guggenheim/Whitney legacy. At 18, he was brought paperwork to be signed from his parents which brought him into millions of dollars. He became really depressed afterwards. His parents took him out of college and for 2 years he worked on an oil rig down in Texas surrounded by true blue collar workers. Great experience for him. He realized that working was something that gave him self satisfaction. So, although he rakes in probably around $1m a year, he makes $50K doing something for himself. I liked that.
I also liked Jamie Johnson. He really was very curious about his circumstances and how his father dealt with his circumstances as well. He wanted to make sure that his comfort level was better than his father’s. He realized that being born rich is a privilege but what do you do with that?
All and all, an interesting perspective. Who hasn’t thought that wouldn’t it be easier if I just had tons of cash. Well, it obviously isn’t that easy.
It’s funny, but Johnson lives in the same town where I grew up. I had a friend who was also set to inherit large sums of money upon turning 21. Curiously, she was not in the film, but it was sad to see the differences in these spoiled brats and her. She was raised as a “normal” person. She was not forced to hang around other wealthy people. She REALLY worked in her father’s business and had to buy her own way. She drove a sensible car and shopped for sensible clothing. They had no servants, cleaned their own home and did everything on their own. Now, she has inherited her wealth, but is still a grounded person. Yes, she has some personal problems dealing with the magnitude of the fortune, but doesn’t have the attitude problem of these whiners. I give her parents credit after seeing this film. I haven’t seen her in many years, I moved away, but I keep tabs on her and I know she is doing great now. When I was her friend, I lived in a tiny apartment. She would come to my house and compliment my mom’s decorating style. She was genuine. It didn’t matter that her father could buy the town we lived in like it does to Weil. she is a true person and I am glad I met her and not one of those losers.
“Born Rich” gives a great inside perspctive of what it is like to grow up rich without real merit other than a namesake. The fact is none of the self serving rich want to talk about “money” because it makes them feel guilty. Imagine if everything that you wanted was free. Well this is what it is like for them. Nothing has true worth. I don’t deserve this… must be running through thier minds constantly.
The fact is that these “poor” kids are under tremendous pressure in an enviroment that is totally alien to the rest of us working smucks. I did not get the idea that anyone of them are particularly happy. It is as if the money is piled up all around them forming a prison with a self imposed sentence.
Imagine getting out of bed tomorrow and being worth 100 million dollars for no reason. Your choices would be limitless….sure you would have one hell of a time for a year or two…..but what then? How would you learn to appreciate the little things in life? How would you get satisfaction? This is where “Born Rich” really hit the mark. Satisfaction and self worth is earned..not bought at any price.
I am glad am not any of them….well perhaps I wouldn’t mind it for a year or two or three….okay okay….lets be honest. We all want to be rich. But the fact remains only those rich who either find some satisfaction in charity or earn it themselves really have a meaningful life.