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Jan 28 2013

Poor rich people

It seems like some rich people never seem to realize that, in times when so many are losing their homes, it is not a good idea to whine to reporters about how tough their lives are when their troubles are ones of having excess. I wrote about this peculiar phenomenon before and the latest edition comes from people living in New York (where ordinary people are lucky if they can afford an apartment that is bigger than a closet) who complain about having too much space.

“I realized I hadn’t been up to my library in six months. My wife pointed out that neither of us had been to the parlor in the last three,” art dealer Otto Naumann recently confessed to The Observer. “We were basically living on two floors.”

The Naumanns’ townhouse on East 78th Street had five, in addition to an elevator meant to relieve the headache of traveling between them. Perversely, the couple quickly discovered that the elevator made it easier not to get around the house. They were bypassing entire floors without so much as a glimpse from the stair landing for weeks, even months. Prized possessions, like a beloved boat sculpture, were stranded in neglected corners. After two years of rattling around the brownstone behemoth, they admitted defeat and retreated to a 2,500-square-foot cond-op.

They weren’t the first, or only, townhouse dwellers to find the vastness and verticality of their home daunting. While such residents would seem to be living the dream—the exceedingly common one in which the dreamer discovers extra, hidden, previously unexplored rooms in his or her own house—it can sometimes feel more like a nightmare.

One doesn’t know what to say.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    One doesn’t know what to say.

    How about “assholes”? Just “assholes.”

  2. 2
    ollie

    Here is a charitable way to view this: many of us, myself included, have too much stuff; we simply don’t need all the excess. Solution: give some of it away.

  3. 3
    ollie

    PS: In my case, I am talking about having too many t-shirts and coats; I usually make a yearly run to Goodwill to give away my excess (the ones that are in good condition). I am not talking about having too many floors and rooms in my house. ;-)

  4. 4
    slc1

    I don’t know if Prof. Singham saw this one but here’s a complaint from one of those “poor rich people”, namely golfer Phil Mickelson who stepped on his tongue a few days ago. It’s rather unfortunate as “lefty” is considered one of the nicer competitors on the PGA tour.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/stupid-dumb-phil-scolds-tax-talk-article-1.1246144

  5. 5
    Mano Singham

    Yes, I saw it. I should have included it as another example of the point I was trying to make but forgot. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. 6
    evilDoug

    Judy Small of Australia sings her song Ordinary People
    Auto-plays. Safe for work (unless you are a third assistant gardener).

  7. 7
    Psychopomp Gecko

    Oh the horror of having too many rooms. Of having to downgrade to a condo unit to keep your sanity. As opposed to those of us downgrading to the cardboard box your boat sculpture came in with a bottle of Thunderbird to keep us warm at night.

  8. 8
    Bill Openthalt

    I blame the journalist and the editor. Some articles should not be written, let alone published.

    Humans don’t need much to live, but have been searching for better living conditions the moment they discovered they could improve them by bending nature to their will. Humans don’t need much food to sustain themselves, but have turned food into an art form, like they made art out of protecting themselves from the weather (and from the looks of other humans). Where lies the boundary between innocent enjoyment and callous disregard for the feelings of others?

    Absent a direct link between the indulgences of the rich and the misery of the poor, maybe we should try not to let our jealousy utter itself as (not so) rightful indignation.

  9. 9
    TGAP Dad

    I still think the award for greatest disconnect belongs to Linda Lay in her “Today Show” interview. The poor Lay family even had to sell their home in Aspen! They had “nothing left of the hundreds of millions Lay collected while he was defrauding shareholders and energy consumers alike.

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    I still think the award for greatest disconnect belongs to Linda Lay in her “Today Show” interview. The poor Lay family even had to sell their home in Aspen! They had “nothing left of the hundreds of millions Lay collected while he was defrauding shareholders and energy consumers alike.

    One of the venture capitalists who invested in my company, back in 1997, complained to me that he was having a tough time. Tech stocks had taken a hit, don’t you know, and he’d had to cancel his private jet service and now his wife was chewing his ass because she couldn’t fly to Palm Springs for her favorite hairdresser. I managed to make some kind of sympathetic noises and imagined throwing him out the window (we were in his suite at the top of The Ritz) until I felt more cheerful.

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