The rich life in the Hamptons

No, I’m not moving to the Hamptons, but that doesn’t mean that the antics of the schemers, oligarchs, and wealthy layabouts who inhabit that locale are going to remain unnoticed. A proud local named Joe Schwenk has taken to Twitter to share his encounters with those seasonal residents who have too much money and too much free time. Here’s a little bit about Joe from his Twitter page (click the image to see a larger version):

If you search for the handle @HamptonsBorn on Twitter, you’ll find these and many more entertaining Tweets:

If you ask me, Joe should forget about turning his Tweets into a book and move right to a TV deal. I hope that works out, because I have a feeling that his house watching opportunities are going to begin drying up very soon.

Let’s all celebrate the Royal Wedding!

That’s right, in just two short days, the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William and commoner Catherine “Kate” Middleton will be upon us. So much has already been written about the participants and all that this event might do for the spirits (and pocketbook) of a country that’s stuck in the doldrums that there’s very little that I can add from so many thousands of miles away, so I’ll just leave you with my simple tribute, which you can enjoy by clicking here.

David Desmond

Dear Beneficiary

I tend to receive very little spam in my e-mail, but, for some reason, all of it seems to have been sent by Nigerian scamsters. Well, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Some of it may have been sent from Togo, and I suppose there’s always the possibility that I am truly the sole heir of a recently deceased member of the royal family of Guinea-Bissau.

The messages that I receive tend to be entertaining for a variety of reasons, including their far-fetched promises of riches beyond my wildest dreams, but I am particularly fond of the fictitious names and positions that the scamsters create in an effort to make their messages seem more authentic. For that reason, I’ve reviewed all of the scamster e-mails that I’ve thus far received in 2011 and compiled a list of my favorite fictitious senders (please note that all misspellings and errors in formatting and punctuation were present in the original messages):

Mrs. Mercy Yoon
Vice President
Yahoo!! International Lottery Organization

(Note: I wonder if this lottery is Yahoo!! CEO Carol Bartz’s last gasp effort to save her company?)

Donlucky George
Director Of Project Implementation
Cote D’Ivoire

(Note: If so, she should have appointed a person named Donlucky to run it to inspire optimism in potential participants.)

Sir. Gilbert Bankole
Auditing Manager
WEMA Bank Plc

(Note: Talk about inspiring confidence, Sir. Gilbert doesn’t just work for a bank, his last name INCLUDES the word bank!)

Mr.Godwin Ude
THE MONEY GRAM REMMITTING OFFICE

(Note: I wonder if THE MONEY GRAM REMMITTING OFFICE is a Nigerian affiliate of Western Union.)

CHIFE MR Benson Kenneth
Western union

(Note: Apparently not.)

Dr. Benson Kenneth

(Note: Let’s all congratulate Dr. Kenneth on the completion of his doctorate.)

Alberto Abraam
head of Audit department of a Bank in Madrid   Spain

(Note: Smart, let’s keep the name of my Spanish bank to ourselves so nobody finds out about my potential windfall.)

Charleen McMahon
MICROSOFT NATIONAL LOTTO GROUP

(Note: I guess Microsoft is following in Yahoo!!’s desperate footsteps.)

Mr Ethel Obiako

(Note: Mr Ethel?)

Last but not least, here is a remarkably bizarre and convoluted message from Ms Ella Onyema:

I am Ms Ella Onyema. A computer scientist with central bank of Nigeria.

I am 26 years old, just started work with C.B.N. I came across your file which was marked X and your released disk   painted RED, I took time to study it and found out that you have paid VIRTUALLY all fees and certificate but the   fund has not been release to you.

The most annoying thing is that they cannot tell you the truth that on no account will they ever release the fund    to you. Please this is like a Mafia setting in Nigeria; you may not understand it because you are not a Nigerian.

The only thing I will need to release this fund is a special HARD DISK we call it HD120 GIG. I will buy two of
it, recopy your information, destroy the previous one, and punch the computer to reflect in your bank within 24    banking hours. I will clean up the tracer and destroy your file, after which I will run away from Nigeria to meet  with you.

If you are interested. Do get in touch with me immediately, You should send to me your convenient tell/fax numbers   for easy communications and also re confirm your banking details, so that there won’t be any mistake.for phone
converstion,please call me on +234-8051708534.

Regards,

Ms Ella Onyema

If you enjoy receiving these bizarre e-mails as much as I do, why don’t you read Delete This At Your Peril, one man’s attempt to get to know the Nigerian scamsters just a little bit better, and, perhaps, drive them crazy.

David Desmond


The evisceration of L’Ami Louis

As I wrote this post, I tried to decide whether to categorize it under “Paris” or “Ponzi Schemers, Oligarchs, and Wealthy Layabouts.” Although there’s no dispute that L’Ami Louis is located in Paris, I decided upon the latter category because it perfectly characterizes this restaurant’s typical clientele.

I enjoy reading restaurant reviews, but I usually find that harsh reviews are more entertaining than laudatory reviews. I previously wrote a post entitled “Oligarch Chic” based on a critical New York Times review of the restaurant Nello, but this takedown of L’Ami Louis by noted culinary hitman A. A. Gill in a recent issue of Vanity Fair takes the concept of a negative review to an entirely new level. Here’s an excerpt:

We order foie gras and snails to start. Foie gras is a L’Ami Louis specialty. After 30 minutes what come are a pair of intimidatingly gross flabs of chilly pâté, with a slight coating of pustular yellow fat. They are dense and stringy, with a web of veins. I doubt they were made on the premises. The liver crumbles under the knife like plumber’s putty and tastes faintly of gut-scented butter or pressed liposuction. The fat clings to the roof of my mouth with the oleaginous insistence of dentist’s wax.

That sounds tasty, doesn’t it? If the foie gras is unsatisfactory (to put it mildly), how about L’Ami Louis’s famous roast chicken? That’s sure to be delectable, isn’t it? Perhaps not:

I have decided not to go for the famous roast chicken, mainly because I’ve suffered it before and I’d just been watching a Japanese couple wrestle with one like a manga poltergeist from some Tokyo horror movie, its scaly blue legs stabbing the air. So on to the broiled kidneys. Nothing I have eaten or heard of being eaten here prepared me for the arrival of the veal kidneys en brochette. Somehow the heat had welded them together into a gray, suppurating renal brick. It could be the result of an accident involving rat babies in a nuclear reactor. They don’t taste as nice as they sound.

If you would like to read A. A. Gill’s full review of L’Ami Louis (trust me, you do), click here.

David Desmond

Quaint, seemingly.

RSVP ASAP, Charlie Rangel’s birthday party is tonight!

Entirely innocent and not-at-all corrupt twenty-term Congressman (D-NY) Charlie Rangel’s 80th birthday party is being held at the Plaza Hotel in New York tonight. I hope you’ve already received your video invitation because you’re running out of time to RSVP. You say that you haven’t received it yet? A simple oversight, I’m sure, perhaps because the e-mail message containing the link to the video invitation ended up in your spam folder. That’s no problem, though, because you can view the invitation thanks to YouTube:

No gifts please, but a generous donation to Congressman Rangel’s legal defense … sorry, reelection … fund would be much appreciated!

David Desmond

The Rich Life, both a blog and an aspiration

The Duchess of York

(click on the above image to be taken to the video)

I must say, this is quite unseemly behavior for a member of the Royal Family (yes, I know, Sarah Ferguson was born a commoner, but she’ll remain a royal until such a time as she decides to remarry, an eventuality that seems to me to be exceedingly unlikely). One would have thought that the onerous taxes imposed in the United Kingdom would be sufficient to subsidize the lavish lifestyle of its ruling class.

Perhaps the Duchess of York should consult this website if she’s having trouble making ends meet.

Oliver Booth

Oligarch chic

I wonder if you saw this review of a Madison Avenue restaurant called Nello in the New York Times on April 14th. No? Too bad, because the reviewer, Sam Sifton, did his hilarious best to advise you to steer clear of that all-too-hot establishment.

While offering unqualified praise for the flowers, he describes the cuisine as “diner food at champagne prices” and the atmosphere as “oligarch chic.” Here are some excerpts from his review:

Rage can overtake a person at Nello: the place is what used to be called a rip. (And the desserts are stale to boot.) But if $32 means nothing to you, if it is the equivalent of the dollar the rest of us can spend on a slice of pizza off Times Square, the restaurant is welcoming and the people-watching is nonpareil.

Nello, which opened in 1992, is an ecosystem that is almost incomprehensible to those not a part of it. The food is not very good. Yet the restaurant’s customer base is built of the richest and most coddled people in the city, who love it for its elegance and, perhaps, simplicity.

During the day, the crowd is women who shop and women who dress like their daughters and men who meet them for lunch. There are air kisses and the tinkle of tennis bracelets against wine glasses.

One night at dinner, there was a very tall woman in elegant clothes, with skin stretched tight over her face in unnatural ways and glasses the size of salad plates to magnify that. She was eating with a small red-faced fellow with dark hair in a center part, who was wearing an ascot and green Tyrolean coat. A cartoonist might render them as an awkward French giraffe and a mischievous Austrian chimp. The woman drank wine as the man devoured a plate of pasta in tomato sauce. They were a good couple. When he finished, she wiped at the corner of his mouth with a napkin. The man signaled to a waiter. He laughed and slapped the table with his open palm. “AAAH-gain!” he cried, happily. “Once AAAH-gain!” The waiter smiled and withdrew with the empty plate. Within 10 minutes the man was eating again.

If you would like to learn more about Nello, why don’t you take a look at my post from November 5, 2009, in which I describe Roman Abramovich’s $47,221.09 lunch. Oligarch chic, indeed!

David Desmond

Mickey Rourke at Nello

Despite the apparently blinding lights at Nello, elaborately accessorized actor Mickey Rourke patiently awaits the arrival of his vitello tonnato.

The waiter must have been thrilled

Take a look at this receipt from Nello’s in New York City:

A receipt from Nello's

Forget the wine, who charges $30 for asparagus?

Reportedly, the customer who accrued these charges was Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich, although he did receive some assistance from five of his friends.

Where do I begin? Well, when you break down the charges, the cost for the food was a relatively reasonable $1,162, or $194 per person, not out of the realm of possibility during an evening out at Café Boulud in Palm Beach. On the other hand, Abramovich was very generous with his guests regarding the assortment of drinks that he ordered (I’m assuming that he shared), which totaled $35,425, or $5,904 per person. Even more disturbingly, that breaks down to almost two bottles of some combination of champagne, wine, port, and whiskey per person, which is a lot, unless, of course, you’re either Russian or from Palm Beach.

Although I’m sure that Abramovich and his friends had a very nice time, nobody ended up happier than the waiter, who pocketed more than $12,000 for his efforts (i.e., delivering a few plates of pasta, pulling a few corks, and steering clear of Abramovich’s girlfriend). $12,000? But the bill lists a tip of only $7,328.20. Yes, $12,000, because, as reported by TMZ, Abramovich threw in an additional $5,000 on top of the standard 20% tip to ensure that the waiter’s compensation would be sufficient.

Oh, and, by the way, these charges were for lunch.

David Desmond

Let’s dissect Bernard Madoff’s American Express bill

As part of his investigation into Bernard Madoff’s Byzantine Ponzi scheme, court-appointed trustee Irving Picard recently released selected American Express bills that were associated with the confessed con man’s corporate credit card. What can we learn from these bills? Well, in addition to what seems to be strong evidence that the business was being used as a piggy bank by the Madoff clan and their associates, these bills also provide us with a window into the life of a very wealthy American family.

Let’s take a look at one American Express bill in detail, the charges that were accrued during the month-long period that ended on January 23, 2008. That billing period includes the end-of-year holidays, of course, when it’s not uncommon for all Americans to spend just a little too excessively. The Madoffs went quite a bit overboard, however, particularly given that this was a corporate card whose use really should have been restricted to outings to Staples to buy refills for the Post-It Note dispensers, spending a total of $100,121.99 during that month. Bernie’s wife Ruth led the way with charges of $29,887.94, son Mark was close behind with charges of $26,776.96, and his brother Andrew finished in third place with charges of $8,273.39. Remarkably, Bernie spent only $470 during that period, most of that due to his membership renewal fee.

What can we learn about this now fallen American family from their charges? First of all, they spent a lot of time on airplanes, but they must have had some bad experiences in the past because they all required luggage insurance when they traveled, Mark and Andrew to Jackson Hole during this billing period, Shana, a “compliance officer” at the firm, to Cancun, and Bernie and Ruth to Palm Beach. Commendably, the senior Madoffs supported the local economy by patronizing establishments such as the Frédéric Fekkai salon, the Muvico Parisian cinemas at CityPlace (I can just see Bernie and Ruth having a romantic date to view 27 Dresses over the holidays), and Publix. I find it hard to believe that Ruth did her own grocery shopping, but she did seem to be able to find the time to make some purchases at Giorgio Armani and Jil Sander in Paris during this period. The senior Madoffs also subscribed to Netflix, a smart move because Ruth is going to be spending many lonely nights at home now that Bernie resides at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.

Since this was a corporate American Express card, how about the activity of employees who were unrelated to the Madoffs? The purchasing habits of Ms. JoAnn Crupi are particularly remarkable. In the course of this single billing cycle, Ms. Crupi accrued charges at Shop-Rite Wines, Garden State Wines, the Secaucus Wine Outlet, and the Springfield Wine Library. This lady may like her wine, but she’s not a spendthrift, having charged a meal at the Westfield Diner (this is quite a contrast to a meal at the ultra high-end restaurant Per Se on which Andrew spent $1,126,41, which included a 5.6% tip of $60) and shopped at Costco (perhaps for wine) and 1-800-FLOWERS before jetting off for a holiday in Las Vegas. And, yes, Ms. Crupi requested luggage insurance.

If you would like to take a look at the Madoffs’ American Express bill yourself, please click here.

Oliver Booth

"The American Express card: Don't leave home without it!"

The American Express card: Don't leave home without it!

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