The yoga instructor, the decorator, the kid’s tutor — these are people that can make up the entourages of the super rich. After a while, they become part help, part friend — and that’s where things get complicated.
New York Observer Richard Kirshenbaum breaks down the complexity in his latest ‘That’s Rich’ column about the daily lives of those on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
In his reporting, Kirshenbaum found that this particular ‘paid friend’ topic to be particularly sensitive to his subjects (“there’s nothing more painful than a paid friend break up,” said one).
Very few parties on either side of the relationship — those paying or those getting paid — were willing to admit that the relationship was one of convenience.
But then, if no one with a paid friend will bite, you can always talk to someone else in the situation. Like an ex-wife (from the NYO):
…one evening, I found myself at a dinner party seated next to the glamorous ex-wife of one of New York’s most enigmatic commodities traders, noted for his custom suits and contraband supply of Cubans. Having received a lucrative divorce settlement, she was more than willing to open up about her ex-husband’s assortment of paid friends. In fact, after I artfully plied her with Avión and an orange twist, she couldn’t seem to talk about anything else.
“Everyone, and I mean everyone, was on the payroll.” She played with her chestnut-size South Sea pearls. “When we first started dating, I was annoyed that so many people were always around. But I learned that powerful men all have posses.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I think many really successful men don’t actually have time for real friends. Their old friends are either resentful or bitter or ask for money, and the new friends are often competitive. In my opinion, very rich men have paid friends as an expensive filter, because they can control them. They love to manipulate everyone… Look, let’s be real. If he didn’t have any money, he’d be sitting all alone in his apartment with a container of Häagan-Dazs and a bottle of vodka.”
Kirshenbaum writes that it’s hard to be on the other side too — to constantly be on someone else’s schedule, even if that means you get the royal treatment everywhere.