A Millionaire's Life for a Mere [Pounds Sterling]3m? Don't Make Me Laugh! as Coutts Declare You Need [Pounds Sterling]3m to Be a True Millionaire

Daily Mail (London), October 19, 2005 | Go to article overview
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A Millionaire's Life for a Mere [Pounds Sterling]3m? Don't Make Me Laugh! as Coutts Declare You Need [Pounds Sterling]3m to Be a True Millionaire


Byline: MICHAEL WINNER

COLE PORTER, in the 1950s, wrote the famous lyric, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? I certainly don't. A million pounds today is utterly meaningless - as verified yesterday by Coutts, bankers to HM The Queen and me.

Chief executive Sarah Deaves, of Coutts UK, says: 'While 25 years ago [pounds sterling]1million would have been more than enough to comfortably live the millionaire's lifestyle a few times over, today it will afford only a small portion of the trappings.

'Our research shows it is time to coin a new expression "thrillionaire", as people now need [pounds sterling]3million to be able to live that luxury lifestyle.' Absolute nonsense! I worry that Ms Deaves is in charge of my money if she really believes that. Is she seriously saying that if a bankrupt suddenly had [pounds sterling]3million, he could live the lifestyle of a millionaire?

There are four, in my view, modest terrace houses which run along the back of my garden in Kensington.

They have no garages. The gardens are tiny. They go for [pounds sterling]6million each.

And that's before you carpet, curtain and furnish them.

And believe me, they don't look like houses where the normal person would expect a millionaire to live.

Let's say you have your basic possessions, a house, a car, a few clothes.

And you bung [pounds sterling]3million on top of that. How can that give you a luxury lifestyle?

You couldn't afford a luxury yacht - [pounds sterling]100million at least. You couldn't afford a good private plane - [pounds sterling] 10million for starters and another [pounds sterling]500,000 a year to run it. You couldn't afford a grand villa in the south of France - another [pounds sterling]10million, minimum. As for a top-notch Van Gogh painting at [pounds sterling]42million - forget it!

In 1892, Fred Gilbert wrote the famous song, The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo. It went: 'As I walk along the Bois Boulong/ With an independent air/ You can hear the girls declare/ He must be a millionaire...' If you needed a million pounds to live the rich life in 1892, you'd need [pounds sterling]100million today.

My own view is that on top of all your standard assets of home and car, you need at least [pounds sterling]30million in the bank, ready to go, to live any sort of real luxury lifestyle. And it wouldn't be the best by a long way, even then.

When I first went out in London as an individual spender, around 1953, a really good dinner for two at a top restaurant with wine cost [pounds sterling]1.50.

That dinner today would cost at least [pounds sterling]150. A hundredfold rise.

So to match the good life in 1953, 52 years on, you'd need [pounds sterling]100million.

But luxury prices have risen massively. It costs me [pounds sterling]90,000 to go to the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados for four weeks over Christmas.

I spend another [pounds sterling]100,000 at least at other hotels, add [pounds sterling]150,000 a year for private jets and, when you throw in staff and other expenses, I reckon it costs me [pounds sterling]700,000 a year to live - more, if I'm in a generous mood to the girlfriend.

So what's [pounds sterling]3million got to do with it? If I had to start with [pounds sterling]3million, within half an hour I'd be staying at a YMCA and rationing my phone calls to three a week.

Coutts said a surge in property prices had resulted in a surge in the number of millionairesrising 80 per cent in just three years to now number 425,000.

But there's millionaires and millionaires.

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