With Thomas Piketty's book on inequality topping the charts among the book-reading common-folk, ambitious ex-bankers are enjoying the high-life in ways not even Gordon Gecko could have dreamed up. If greed is good, then this is better as former Lehman execs sell the first ".luxury" website domain names and ex-Goldmanites pitch "curated environments that optimize health" for home living with 'Vitamin-C-infused showers'. Of course, as one banker opines philosophically, "it's all about balance...it's important that people who have the capital are making it as useful as possible."
As Bloomberg reports, two former Goldman bankers (Jay Dweck and Paul Scialla) are launching Live Better Systems LLC...
“We’re launching this brand and launching this movement,” Paul Scialla said before a tour of the $50 million penthouse his company, Delos Living LLC, is selling with posture-boosting cork floors, purified air and antimicrobial coatings in New York’s East Village. “There’s so much attention focused on the environmental impact of buildings, and we didn’t think there was enough focus on the human.”
Scialla, 40, was co-head of U.S. interest-rate products cash trading at Goldman Sachs last year when he and his twin brother Peter left the firm’s partnership pool to expand Delos. It’s bringing “curated environments that optimize health” to Las Vegas hotel suites, Philadelphia dorms and Los Angeles offices, according to a website that describes lighting built around circadian rhythms and Vitamin C-infused showers.
“If we can scale this and get this to as many people as we can through real estate, that’s a real big win,” he said, citing hospitals and affordable apartments as options, along with housing for Haitian orphans the company has pledged to build. “Anything with four walls and a roof can be infused with this thought.”
Other former bankers working on what they call boutique projects are more explicit about selling to their own kind.
Last month, former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. vice president Monica Kirchner also cited mass appeal, or a version of it, after she began selling the first websites that end in .luxury instead of .com.
Kirchner, whose Beverly Hills, California-based Dot Luxury won an auction for rights to the domain, said her target audience spans “ultra-high net worth all the way into just your middle income.”
Serge Marquie, who ran corporate equity derivatives at Goldman Sachs and left last year, said the firm he started with his wife, Sally Wilkinson, is selling rights to Napa Valley wines before they’re bottled to “bankers, hedge-fund guys.”
The company, E-Cep, offers contracts similar to Bordeaux futures that allow buyers to get U.S. wine at a preset price, like an $1,800 magnum of 2011 Scarecrow cabernet.
Piketty would be proud...
“There’s incredible inequality, but there’s also incredible demand at the high end of the market,” Wilkinson said. “That’s just a reality of the world we live in.”
She and Marquie described the business as a way for them to make an impact.
“Capital can be useless, or it can be very beneficial,” Marquie said. “And it is important that people who have the capital are making it as useful as possible.”
But it's all about balance... right?
The renovation of his stone-and-shingle house -- whose reverse-osmosis filtration makes his shower water “like bottled water” even if it lacks the Delos vitamins -- will cost $3 million, he said. He estimates he’ll spend an additional $3 million fixing up grounds that include the pool, a baseball field, an outdoor kitchen and a movie screen.
“Lots of people have that money,” he said. “They’re willing to spend it on, to me, much more frivolous things.”
“Well,” Scialla said, “it’s all about balance.”
We suspect none of these masters of the universe turned luxury brand creators ever thought to thank the one who is really responsible for their 'success'... Ben Bernanke (and Tim Geithner).