BILLIONAIRES GET SQUEEZED, TOO

Time for another peek into to the “Lifestyles of the Rich … and Cranky.”

Time for another peek into to the “Lifestyles of the Rich … and Cranky.”

Maybe you’re one of the millions of working stiffs who’ve lost their jobs, their homes, and their faith in the system as a result of the losing crap game that Wall Street played with our economy. Well, if so, it’s time for you to stop your whining and show a little concern for the other guy. Yeah, the guys at the economic pinnacle, the high-rollers who made a bundle the last few years in Wall Street’s speculative boom. They’re feeling some pain, too.

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Did you hear, for example, that Louis Gonda had to put two of his jets up for sale? Some years ago, insurance megapower AIG bought one of Gonda’s companies for a ton of cash and a bale of AIG’s high-priced stocks. But, AIG recently tanked, requiring an $85 billion taxpayer bailout to keep from going under. As a result, Mr. Gonda’s AIG stock is now barely worth the paper it’s printed on.

So, to make ends meet, Louis is selling his Gulfstream V and Gulfstream G550. Total asking price is $108 million, but I’ll bet you could get the pair for a cool $100 million. Also, while Gonda still has luxury homes in California and Manhattan, he had to sell another one for $2.4 million, eating a $300,000 loss on the sale.

The cruelest blow for Gonda, however, is not in cash, but in prestige. Last year, he was number 286 on the Forbes list of America’s 400 richest people – but with the freefall in AIG’s stock price, he’s been unceremoniously dropped from the list. Oh, bitter gall! Word is, he’s down to his last billion.

The superrich are being squeezed. For example, instead of ordering four bottles of wine at a thousand dollars each for dinner, many top corporate executives are said to be ordering only two bottles. And you thought you had problems.

“They’re Pinching Hundred-Dollar Bills,” The New York Times, October 4, 2008.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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