The Richest Man In The World


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?