As I’ve often mentioned, one of my favorite perhaps crackpot but also perhaps legit theories is French leftist economist Thomas Piketty’s claim that his famous equation r > g proves that the Forbes Magazine lists of billionaires have to be wrong because there must be far more old money billionaires, while the Forbes lists are dominated by fairly recent wealth. Piketty suspects there are vast hidden fortunes passed down through the generations that Forbes isn’t finding.
Even though Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century was a huge bestseller, few else seemed to pay much attention to the most glamorous and intriguing idea in the whole book. I, however, immediately started thinking about how we could find this wealth. For example, what about using Google Earth to look for evidence of palatial estates? For example, golf courses are instantly recognizable from the air, so personal golf courses are readily visible on Google.
Here’s a NYT article on Jeff Bezos spending $165 million on a Beverly Hills estate plus nearby 9 digit properties that’s relevant to the Piketty Theory: just about everybody involved in owning these properties is famous, most track their fortunes back no further than the 20th Century, backyard golf courses seem to be a dying breed, and, by implication, only trashy Russian oligarchs really like all the steel and glass boxes that have been built on spec in the Hollywood Hills in recent years.
Jeff Bezos Buying $165 Million Estate, a California Record
The Amazon leader reached a deal for the Warner Estate in Beverly Hills with David Geffen, who has owned it since 1990.
By Candace Jackson, Feb. 14, 2020
The national housing market has cooled, but in Los Angeles the ultrarich are still shattering price records. An heiress to the Formula One racing empire sold her …