Poor Little Rich Girl
By Patrick F. Cannon
The recent divorce saga of Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin and his wife Anne reminded me of a similar story a few years ago. Another billionaire, who died last year and shall remain nameless, was in the news because his ex-wife had asked the courts to increase his child support payments for their daughter to $320,000 a month from $50,000.
We were told that the tycoon had the child out of wedlock in 1999. The gallant fellow agreed to make an honest woman out of her, but only upon the understanding that she would then file for divorce, receiving $50,000 per month for the child, but nothing for herself.
Now, the last time I looked, $50,000 a month only adds up to $600,000 a year. As we know, grown men make far more money playing children’s games like baseball and basketball, so it hardly seems fair that an actual child should have received so little, particularly a child who was both the daughter of a billionaire and lived in Southern California.
Although it hardly seems relevant, I should mention that the child was then three, the mother 36 and Mr. Moneybags 84.
If we examine the reasons for needing $320,000 a month (or $3,840,000 a year), all might become clear. Travel, for example, was projected at $144,000 per month. Surely, you might say, one would have to be on the road continuously to spend that kind of dough. But this is to completely misunderstand the requirements of the rich, particularly the rich in any way associated with Hollywood (the father owned one of its major studios).
Travel broadens one, even a three-year-old. Let’s say a trip to Paris seems desirable. No child of that age can travel alone. She’ll need mommy, nanny and a security guard. Four first-class tickets from LA to Paris would be about $40,000. Upon arrival, mom and the kid would likely share a suite, say at the Ritz or the George V. A week could run another $30,000. Nanny and the security person would rate only single rooms, but two could add another $10,000. At Paris prices, meals could easily add another $10,000. I think that totals $90,000 for a week in Paris, leaving a mere $54,000 to last the rest of the month. It might well be even less, as a prudent mother of a billionaire’s daughter might well opt for a private jet to avoid any possibility of a kidnapping enroute.
“Parties and play dates” were estimated at $14,000 a month. For a child whose first birthday party cost $70,000, this does not seem excessive. As a child, I simply went next door and knocked on the back door to see if Jimmy could come outside and play. But of course I didn’t live in Bel Air or Beverly Hills. Can we reasonably ask a child to scale an electric fence with razor wire at the top to play with the kid next door?
An additional $2,500 a month was set aside for movies and outings. While movies may only be $15 a ticket, the usual entourage increases the tab to $60, not including popcorn. Because she lived in the film capital of the world, and her father was deeply involved in the business, we would naturally expect her to keep up with the latest releases and trends. And all parents know that Disneyland, Universal Studios and Knotts Berry Farm don’t come cheap.
Other expenses listed by the Associated Press seemed equally reasonable: $1,400 for laundry and cleaning, $1,000 for toys and books, and $436 “for care of Kira’s bunny and other pets.” Actually, Ms. Kerkorian might want to revisit the pet care costs. My own experience with a poodle of delicate health and constantly growing coat suggests it might not be enough.
You may have noticed that the expenses listed only totaled $163,336 per month. But of course that doesn’t include the costs of housing, food and staff, which could quite easily eat up the remaining $156,664.
Many of you will recall F. Scott Fitzgerald’s comment that the rich are different than us, and Ernest Hemingway’s famous rejoinder, “yes, they have more money.” Well, as you can see, they actually need it.
Copyright 2016, Patrick F. Cannon