PALM BEACH, Fla.—Now that President-elect Trump has promised to supercharge the economy, vanquish China as a trade competitor, and make us all billionaires, you might be a little confused.
You’ve never been a billionaire. You don’t know where to start.
I’m here to help.
First of all, you’re gonna need a suit. I can already hear your objections.
“I don’t need a suit. I have three suits.”
But you’re a billionaire now. You can’t wear those suits anymore. Billionaires don’t wear suits from Men’s Wearhouse, or Joseph A. Bank, or Brooks Brothers. You can go to the finest Armani boutique in Italy and you still won’t be able to dress like a billionaire.
The lesson you have to learn is: Billionaires don’t shop at any place you’ve ever heard of.
What you’re gonna buy is a “bespoke” suit. “Bespoke” is a Brit word that probably has some linguistic origin involving a manservant named Farnsworth who was sent to pick up cummerbunds from a tailor named McSweeney. The suit is “spoken for,” it’s one of a kind, made from scratch. You’re gonna spend all day consulting with a Chinaman who’s gonna stick a tape measure in your crotch and show you 17,000 different fibers and then you’re gonna go back four times in the next three months while he builds the goldang suit. Then he’s gonna ask you for $30,000.
Now, listen up—there are only six cities where you can do this. London, New York, Hong Kong, Naples, Tokyo, and Brussels. Memorize those.
If you go to Hong Kong, it’s the Armoury.
If you want an Italian suit with the soft shoulders, it’s Isaia in Naples. I know, I know, it makes more sense that the Italian tailors would be in Milan. They’re not, okay? You’re not billionaire-literate yet, just trust me.
In Tokyo it’s Kamakura.
In Brussels it’s Scabal.
If you wanna buy American, in keeping with the Trump ethos, you’ll go to the Garment District in New York and seek out Beckenstein. Yes, there are Chinese tailors and Italian tailors in New York, but it’s New York City, you’re safer with a Jew.
But since you’re a new billionaire, and since you’ve gotta buy your way into the fraternity of one-percenters, what I suggest is that you go to the oldest, most established place in the world, Savile Row in London, where they don’t make the soft shoulders but they do make suits that look like they could have been worn by Fred Astaire while disembarking from an ocean liner. Pick out some baby alpaca in a herringbone or some Irish linen in a soft weave, accessorize it with a cravat, and pretend like you’re Richard Burton when he was sober. The place you do this is Gieves & Hawkes, which dates from 1771 and is known for dressing people like the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales and various world leaders. They’re gonna want some serious coin, up to 50K per suit. You’ll need ten of them.
You getting the hang of this yet? The working principle here is, do what the other billionaires do. Otherwise they’re gonna take away your money and send you back to the third shift at Walmart.
Next you’re gonna need a car. I know what you’re thinking—Mercedes, Rolls, Aston Martin—and, okay, I’ll accept those. But if you’re gonna get a Rolls-Royce, the only acceptable one is the Phantom Serenity—price tag: $1.1 million—and you cannot actually drive it. You need to chauffeur that puppy. It is okay to drive an Aston Martin yourself because James Bond does, but you need to make sure it’s the $1.4 million model that tops out at 220 miles per hour. If you go Mercedes—and you’re starting to bore me—at least get the Maybach Exelero model, 700 horsepower, that retails for about $8 million.
But I don’t think those are gonna satisfy you. The word is already on the tip of your tongue, right?
But remember, you’re a billionaire, you can’t get a common Ferrari, you need the Ferrari Sergio. There were only six made, and they sell for $3 million, so it might be a while waiting on one of those to hit the market.
That’s why you need to move up to either Bugatti or Lamborghini. I recommend the Bugatti Veyron, which is well worth the $3.4 million because it has 1,200 horsepower and easily gets to 254 miles per hour. Even better is the Lamborghini V12, which goes from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds and can be ordered for $4.4 million.
One car-buying danger, if you just became a billionaire last week, is that you’ll be labeled nouveau riche and treated like a vulgar loudmouth Russian oligarch.
People, look at who’s president! He loves vulgar loudmouth Russian oligarchs.
That’s why you’re gonna go for the car nobody’s heard of, the Trevita, made by the Swedish geniuses at Koenigsegg. The most expensive car in the world sells for $4.8 million, looks like a silver spaceship, and has 1,004 horsepower, and the paint job actually contains diamonds. So don’t park it next to a Dodge RAM pickup on flea market day, but otherwise your wheels are gonna say, “Hey, dudes, I’m filthy with it.”
Better yet, go for all three—the Trevita, the Lamborghini, and the Bugatti—because the next thing you need to know is…
You’re gonna need to buy at least four homes.
The first three have to be in billionaire places. The fourth one is your “wild card” home and you can sort of freelance with it. But let’s do the basics first…
You’ll need a penthouse in Manhattan. Yes, I know Bill Gates lives in Seattle and Warren Buffett lives in Omaha, but they’ve got media cred—you’ve got to bust through the front gates of horrible excess. Ninety percent of the billionaires live in Manhattan. I would recommend a twenty-room, two-floor spread in a Fifth Avenue building, with a marble staircase, a wine cellar, an art gallery and—why not?—an equestrian ring, and the price for that is only gonna be about $96 million, but there’s a big obstacle. All those buildings on Fifth Avenue are co-ops, meaning the people who are already living there get to decide who moves in and who doesn’t, and they’re not gonna like you. Why aren’t they gonna like you? Because they don’t like anybody. But they especially don’t like you because you’re tacky with your money.
You could go down a few blocks and get a place in Trump Tower, but…too obvious!
If you take the penthouse in the new Atelier building on 42nd Street, they’ll throw in two Rolls-Royces and a summer house in the Hamptons in exchange for $85 million. But 42nd Street sounds too…42nd Street.
The answer: buy an actual house on the Upper East Side. Yes, these mansions still exist. You can move in for $80 million, maybe a little less, and you’ll have floors modeled after the Pavlovsk Palace and Hermès leather wall coverings and pretty much hot and cold running slaves to serve your every need. No co-op board. No other pesky tenants getting in your way. Just a big Victorian facade that says, “I’m Andrew frickin’ Carnegie for the 21st century.”
Nevertheless, you still need that house in the Hamptons. The Hamptons, if you haven’t been there, is this cold rainy place out on the eastern end of Long Island, four hours from Manhattan by car but only 22 minutes for you, because you’re gonna go by helicopter—or, come to think of it, about the same time frame if you’re driving your Bugatti Veyron at 254 miles per hour on the Long Island Expressway. Either way, you’re gonna be confused when you get there. You’ll be thinking, “I’ve seen better beaches in Alaska.” This doesn’t matter. This is where billionaires go to eat steak tartare on a cracker at restaurants named after Alsatian villages. You’re gonna spend anywhere from $30 million to $140 million on a house that you’ll use on eleven summer weekends each year. Don’t ask questions about this, just do it, I don’t have time.
Now. Look at the map. There are a whole bunch of Hamptons out there, but the one you’re gonna focus on is East Hampton. Yes, I know the Goldman Sachs guy bought a seven-bedroom in Bridgehampton for $32.5 million, and it’s always a good idea to watch what the Goldman Sachs guy is doing, but again, you’re not the Goldman Sachs guy. You wanna get as close to Georgica Pond as possible, preferably within a mile of Steven Spielberg’s house. Georgica Pond is not really a pond, more like a messy marsh where the ducks have to go through an audition process to swim there. What you really wanna aspire to is the grandiosity of Chris Whittle, the education entrepreneur who calls his $140 million estate “Briar Patch.” I’ve never been inside, but I assume the Uncle Remus reference is ironic.
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