Saturday, August 6, 2011

The 258th Richest Person in the World

Let’s say you buy a $43.5 million, 6,000-square-foot oceanfront estate on 6.5 acres in Sagaponack, Long Island (the country's most expensive zip code, according to BusinessWeek). What's the first thing you do? According to a June 2, 2010 post on the AOL homepage, if you're hedge fund billionaire David Tepper, you tear it down -- along with the guesthouse, swimming pool and tennis court -- to build an even bigger mega-mansion.

According to the Southampton Patch, Tepper bought the home in 2009 from ex-wife of former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, in the area's most expensive transaction of 2010. In April, he got a permit for the demolition, and two months later the site was completely cleared.

The new house is about twice the size of the original, with "ocean views from every room, a sunken tennis court, a three-car garage, a widow's walk, second-floor decks, including one with a Jacuzzi, and a covered porch," according to the minutes of a recent town board meeting at which the construction was reviewed.

From Wikkipedia, we learn that in 2009, Tepper's hedge-fund firm earned about $7 billion by buying distressed financial stocks (including acquiring Bank of America common stock at $3 per share) in February and March of that year and profiting from recovery of those stocks, with $4 billion of these profits going to Tepper's personal wealth. In March 2010, the New York Times reported that Tepper's success made him the top-earning hedge fund manager in the world in 2009, and in 2010 he was ranked by Forbes as the 258th richest person in the world, all through engaging in what Ghandi, in his list of "seven deadly social sins," describes as the wrong of "wealth without work."

This reminds me of a story Jesus once told of a well-to-do farmer who had an exceptionally good harvest one year. Pleased with his newly acquired wealth, he decided, “I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.’”

That may sound like a great plan for an early retirement, but what the poor man didn’t realize was that God labeled him as a fool for this kind of self-centered planning, a wealth-blinded mortal whose priorities were short-sighted and whose life was about to be terminated.

Unbeknownst to him, he was about to leave it all behind. Every bit of it.
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