Meet the married billionaire couple who helped create the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine

Ugur Sahin Özlem Türeci biontech
Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci.

  • The German couple behind BioNTech is one of the driving forces behind Pfizer’s historic coronavirus vaccine, which has now been authorized in the UK and US, and is recommended for use in the EU
  • Dr. Ugur Sahin is the CEO and Dr. Özlem Türeci the chief medical officer of BioNTech, the company that created the vaccine in partnership with Pfizer.
  • The couple crossed the billionaire threshold in June, when BioNTech shares surged on news of its pact with Pfizer.
  • Sahin was named one of the world’s richest 500 people by Bloomberg; Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.3 billion.
  • The duo met while working at a university hospital in southwest Germany; they cofounded their first pharmaceutical company a year before getting married.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pfizer and BioNTech have made history with the results of their coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine, developed in partnership between the US and German companies, has an efficacy of over 90%, per clinical trial data. 

It’s the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed, its efficacy came in much higher than the 70% or 80% virologists were hoping for, and it was the first coronavirus vaccine to get approval in the US, on December 11. On Monday, it was recommended for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency.

That’s good news for the future of the pandemic – and for the German couple behind it.

BioNTech’s CEO, Dr. Ugur Sahin, cofounded the firm with his wife, Dr. Özlem Türeci, who is the chief medical officer. The couple crossed the billionaire threshold back in June, as BioNTech’s stock surged after its pact with Pfizer was announced. In early December, Sahin joined the list of the world’s 500 richest people after the UK approved the Pfizer vaccine; according to Forbes, his net worth is now $4.3 billion.

In clinical trials, it was ultimately 95% effective at preventing coronavirus.

“It could be the beginning of the end of the Covid era,” Dr. Sahin told the New York Times.

Here’s how the vaccine power couple met one another, and how they made their mark on modern medicine.

BioNTech did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Read more: How the pharma giant Pfizer teamed up with a little-known biotech to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine in record time

They are both German citizens, with families of Turkish origin.

Ugur Sahin Özlem Türeci biontech
Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci.

Per The New York Times, Sahin immigrated to Germany from Turkey when he was 4 years old and Türeci was born in Germany. Sahin hails from Iskenderun, a city near the Syrian border, while Türeci’s father is from Istanbul. Türeci has described herself as a “Prussian Turk,” per the Guardian, citing her admiration for aspects of German culture.

They came to medicine through different routes: Sahin, the child of a car factory worker, was introduced to it from science books. Türeci’s father is a surgeon, and she grew up watching him operate on patients.


The couple met while working at a university hospital in southwest Germany.

saarland university hospital
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) visits the Virology Department of Saarland University Hospital together with Saarland Premier Tobias Hans (CDU, r).

Sahin had also worked at hospitals in Cologne, according to Reuters. He received his MD from the University of Cologne in 1990. Türeci got her MD from Saarland University Faculty of Medicine. 

Read more: We just got our first evidence that a coronavirus vaccine works. Here’s everything we know about the race for a vaccine and when you might be able to get a shot.

The duo cofounded their first pharmaceutical company in 2001. They married the next year.

FILE PHOTO: Astellas Pharma's logo is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, December 3, 2019.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Astellas Pharma’s logo is pictured at its headquarters in Tokyo

Starting in 2000, Sahin and Türeci had together been leading a research group at University of Mainz. Then, in 2001, they founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, which focused on the role of antibodies in treating cancer. Per Forbes, Ganymed received backing from billionaires — and identical twins — Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann.

The company was acquired by Astellas Pharma for around $1.4 billion in 2016

“I understood that what we can offer cancer patients at the hospitals is not much, and we could do more by bringing new discoveries to the patient’s bedside,” Türeci told LABIOTECH’s Clara Rodríguez Fernández in a 2017 interview.

Per the Times, the duo came into the laboratory the morning of their 2002 wedding, left to perform the ceremony, and then returned to work later that day.

They went on to cofound BioNTech in 2008, with Sahin as CEO.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of German biotech firm BioNTech, is interviewed by journalists in Marburg.

Türeci said in 2017 that Sahin took on the role of CEO of BioNTech in 2008; she stayed on as CEO of Ganymed. Pre-Ganymed acquisition, she also worked as a scientific advisor for BioNTech.

“In 2008, we recognized another platform had reached a maturity point where they had to be accelerated towards individualized vaccines, and BioNTech was founded,” Türeci told LABIOTECH.

BioNTech, which set out to use immunotherapy in cancer vaccines, was also backed by the Strüngmann twins. Türeci became its chief medical officer in 2018.

Read more: Why a top infectious-disease expert says it’s too soon to celebrate Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine



BioNTech and Sahin began to narrow in on coronavirus research in January. Pfizer partnered with them in March.

GettyImages 1229305135
A health care worker injects a patient with a syringe of the phase 3 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial in Turkey in October 2020.

According to the Times, Sahin read an article from The Lancet in January on Wuhan’s outbreak. He spotted the potential dangers and, according to Reuters, saw how BioNTech’s  work on mRNA could be applicable for a vaccine. 

That’s when the company had 500 staffers start working on potential compounds for “Project Lightspeed.”

As Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported, BioNTech had worked on a potential flu vaccine with Pfizer in 2018. As Sahin began to focus on coronavirus research, he called Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research, in February.

BioNTech partnered with Pfizer in March, and began human studies of a vaccine in late April.

By September, German weekly Welt am Sonntag listed the duo as among the 100 richest Germans — they came in at 85th.

BioNTech’s valuation was up to $25 billion on Friday. A year ago, it was a little under $3.4 billion.

Sahin reportedly doesn’t check the company’s share price.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech are seen in Mainz, Germany July 31, 2018.  REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech are seen in Mainz

Sahin is known among his peers for continuing to bike into work, reportedly often toting a helmet and backpack. He continues to teach at Mainz University Medical Center; he began teaching there in 2014.

And, in addition to her BioNTech duties, Türeci serves as the president for the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy.

The couple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

While BioNTech soars, and vaccine distribution and production ramps up, investors told the Times that the couple is focused on driving medical advances — not the money.

The New York Times reports that, upon learning the efficacy data, the couple celebrated by brewing Turkish tea.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet Moderna’s cofounder and chairman, whose coronavirus vaccine was just approved and is now rolling out nationwide. He loves basketball and Dolly Parton.

Noubar Afeyan
Noubar Afeyan, an immigrant from Lebanon, is the cofounder and chairman of Moderna, the company behind one of the most promising potential COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Noubar Afeyan is the cofounder and chairman of biotech firm Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine is close to getting approval in the US from the FDA.
  • On Thursday, an expert FDA panel endorsed the vaccine, and on Friday, the agency officially authorized the vaccine, making it the second authorized coronavirus shot in the US.
  • Afeyan is an immigrant and a basketball fan, and calls himself a “parallel entrepreneur” because of his strategy of cofounding and helping to grow new companies, which stands at 41 over two decades.
  • Insider spoke with Afeyan to learn more about his experience as an immigrant to Canada and then the US who became a serial entrepreneur, the development of Moderna, and his favorite Dolly Parton song.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Noubar Afeyan loves basketball. In his free time, he roots for the Boston Celtics, a team he supported even before enrolling at MIT in the same city (he also likes the Patriots and the Red Sox). He loves to play recreationally – but he’s had to pause during the pandemic. 

Afeyan hasn’t had much free time lately. That’s because he’s the cofounder and chairman of Moderna, the biotech firm that produced a vaccine shown to have 94.5% efficacy against the virus. 

COVID-19 caught the attention of Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel In January, even before the pandemic hit the US. Moderna got to work, and it shipped the first batches of its vaccine to the National Institutes of Health by February 24.

On Thursday, an expert FDA panel endorsed the vaccine, and it was officially approved on Friday. Nationwide distribution began over the weekend.

Ahead of the Moderna vaccine’s authorization, Insider spoke with Afeyan about the vaccine’s development, including partial funding received from Dolly Parton, his experience as an immigrant founder and how it’s shaped his worldview, his strategy of “parallel entrepreneurship,” and of course a little basketball.

Afeyan, who is Armenian, grew up in Lebanon and lived there until he was 13.

noubar afeyan young
Noubar Afeyan pictured here in grade school in Beirut, Lebanon.

Although he grew up in Lebanon and then Canada, Afeyan’s Armenian background — and living in Armenian communities — has been an important part of his life. Throughout his career, he’s focused on both entrepreneurial and philanthropic investment in Armenia.

He said he sees his philanthropy as “paying back for the various debts that I felt to Armenians for having been helped by others in surviving genocide and many other difficulties.”

Afeyan’s grandfather was a survivor of the Armenian genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians died in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Afeyan has written in The New York Times about continued violence against Armenians during the coronavirus pandemic.





At the age of 13, Afeyan’s family moved from Lebanon to Canada during the Lebanese Civil War.

NBA 1975 Canada (1)
Noubar Afeyan in Canada in 1975.

Prior to his move, he’d never seen snow before, he said.

Afeyan went on to attend high school and college in Canada.

NBA Montreal High School Graduation 1978 (1)
Noubar Afeyan at his high school graduation in 1978.

He graduated from Loyola High School in Montreal in 1978, and went on to attend McGill University. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1983.

Afeyan then went to MIT to get his PhD in Biochemical Engineering; at the time, it was the only institution that offered the degree program.

MIT mass institute tech
A view of Building 7 on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 31, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“The field was being invented” while Afeyan and fellow students were doing their work, he said. 

“It wasn’t clear what a biochemical engineer actually did when we were there,” he said.

Then, in 1985, Afeyan had a transformative encounter. He had been sent to represent MIT at a National Science Foundation meeting in Washington DC, and he struck up a conversation with a fellow attendee over lunch. He told Afeyan how he had started a company that “made instruments for a new breed of engineers.”

“I was sitting there listening to this thinking, ‘Well, you know, I’m going to be a new breed of engineer,'” Afeyan said.

Later in the conversation, Afeyan learned his lunchtime companion was David Packard — the cofounder of Hewlett-Packard. He spent a “bunch of time” with Packard that day, learning what starting a company was all about.




When he returned to MIT from DC, Afeyan was determined to learn everything he could about starting a company. He began frequenting MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

MIT Sloan Campus
The MIT Sloan School of Business campus.

Afeyan said he was “kind of a stranger” at MIT’s Sloan School at the time. “I wasn’t doing an MBA. I was just trying to learn what innovation was, what management was.”

He’s now a senior lecturer at Sloan, where he’s taught since 2000. 


Afeyan went on to found his first company, Perseptive Biosystems, at the age of 24.

Noubar photo FSV color web ppm

He said he met with his first prospective investor just a day or so after “Black Monday,” the historic stock market crash of 1987.

“In hindsight, it was a lucky break for me because after that just about any startup activity ceased, and I persisted because I was bent on trying to see if I could start a company,” Afeyan said.

He said that he got around $300,000 in seed capital to launch the company. In 1989, Perseptive Biosystems “eventually attracted some venture capital.”

Perseptive went public in 1992; in 1998, it was acquired by The Perkin-Elmer Corporation.

“Over that kind of 10-year journey until 1997, I probably made every mistake in the book,” Afeyan said. But the company going public when he was around 29 gave him the opportunity to learn about the “messy, turbulent” world of startups early.


In 2000, Afeyan founded Flagship Pioneering, a company incubator.

cambridge massachusetts
The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA.

Afeyan said entrepreneurs are known for going from one thing to the next (and then the next one after that).

“I didn’t want to leave the first thing, because it was a great learning experience,” he said.

So, instead, he came up with his own answer to serial entrepreneurship: “parallel entrepreneurship.” Instead of founding a company and moving along, he would help cofound companies and continue to work with them. In 2000, Flagship Pioneering was born to do just that.

Flagship has now helped launch 41 companies, with an aggregate value of over $34 billion.


Moderna, which Afeyan cofounded in 2010, may be Flagship’s most famous company right now.

Noubar at Moderna
Noubar at Moderna.

When Afeyan started exploring the idea of an messenger RNA (mRNA) biotech in 2010, some research on mRNA was looking at it “as a potential way to transform cells.”

Afeyan sought out his friend and colleague Bob Langer (who later became an early investor in Moderna). He asked Langer a key question: “Instead of doing these STEM cell experiments and using this for a laboratory setting, what if we could think about a way by which we could use the patient as a bio-reactor for their own drug?”

He said that, at the time, they didn’t know if mRNA could get into the cells of animals or humans, or whether they could cause an immune reaction (spoiler alert: they can). 

“None of that work had ever been done. And that’s kind of how Flagship Pioneering operates.”

In 2018, Moderna had the biggest IPO in biotech history.

Moderna IPO.JPG
Noubar Afeyan at the Moderna IPO.

It was valued at $7.5 billion at the time. Afeyan owns over 2.1 million shares.

Moderna’s vaccine also made headlines for a notable contributor: Country legend Dolly Parton donated $1 million to the research behind the vaccine.

dolly parton
Dolly Parton, country singer and vaccine funder.

Parton announced in April that she had donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University; that research was part of the Moderna vaccine effort. The Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund is listed as a supporter in a report for the New England Journal of Medicine on the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

“Growing up, I did actually listen to her music and there were a number of memorable songs,” Afeyan said. 

He lauded her public donation for both its size and the awareness it created.

“I think that’s a terrific thing. It’s a great act of generosity and providing resources to what’s otherwise one of the important projects of our times.”

His favorite Parton song? The classic “9 to 5.”

So what comes next?

Moderna vaccine
Biotechnology company Moderna protocol files for COVID-19 vaccinations are kept at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020.

Afeyan said the vaccine — and the awareness its created around mRNA — will lead to “more science, more research, more products.”

He said the public was only just made aware of mRNA in March, when the vaccine clinical trials began. But “there’s a 10-year history that involves billions of dollars in investment, hundreds of people’s hard work, hundreds of patents that have been filed.”

In other words, the vaccine didn’t just happen in the months since Moderna first began working on the coronavirus; it’s the culmination of nearly a decade of research and invention. Now that Moderna and mRNA have that public visibility, there’s more innovation to be done.

“That platform, we think, will give rise to dozens of additional new drugs and vaccines; we’re intensifying our efforts already in this regard,” Afeyan said.

Most of all, it will be a demonstration to the public “of the power of innovation and science coming to the aid of one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime.”


Read the original article on Business Insider

From Rolex to Audemars Piguet: The 11 best watch investments for aspiring collectors

Rolex GMT
A Rolex GMT, Reference 1675.

  • Buying luxury watches is an investment — both for your style and your finances
  • Although new watches are nice, vintage watches are the ones that almost dominate the watch sector.
  • Secondhand watches are also very popular. A 2018 Bain report found the secondhand market to be worth nearly $25 billion, with watches and jewelry making up over 80% of all secondhand market purchases.
  • And some watches, such as Rolexes and Patek Philippe, have the potential to resell for thousands more than their purchase price. 
  • Business Insider spoke to three watch experts to see which they recommend to those looking to start (or expand) their watch portfolios and they recommended 11 stand-outs. The list includes both new and secondhand watches. 
  • The watches include a Royal Oak Jumbo Audemars Piguet, which goes for about $27,600, as well as a Patek Philippe Nautilus that can go for nearly $45,000.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Drake owns a Richard Mille worth $750,000. Justin Bieber has an Audemars Piguet worth $50,000. And Jay-Z has a Patek Philippe worth at least $2.2 million

They’re watches, of course. 

High-net-worth-individuals have been buying high-end watches for years, but the trend has accelerated along with so much other spending at the upper end during the pandemic.

For example, the Sotheby’s Important Watches live auction concluded Tuesday and brought in $10.4 million – a 27% increase from last year – with a Patek Philippe Ref 2499 retailed by Tiffany & Co. selling for $818,600. A Cartier Ecran Mystery Clock went for $564,500, while a Rare Salmon Dial Audemars Piguet Royal Oak sold for $441,000. 

New watches can be very pricey and collectible, but vintage watches are the ones that almost dominate the watch sector. In fact, secondhand watch sellers are almost as popular as the auction houses that sell blue-chip artwork, and the websites that resell Birkin and Chanel bags

According to Deloitte’s 2019 “Global Powers of Luxury Goods” report, the average annual sales made by the top 32 watch and jewelry companies topped $2 billion in 2017, but a 2018 Bain report stated that the secondhand market was worth nearly $25 billion, with watches and jewelry making up over 80% of all secondhand market purchases. 

As for where to look in secondhand? There are certain stand-out names.

“Brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet are controlled by families and not investors,” Tim Stracke, CEO of the watch resale site Chrono24, told Business Insider earlier this year. “They have limited their supply for more than a century. They have a super long-term view and they value brand reputation higher than short term profits. This will very likely prevail for future generations and keep the value of their watches up.”

Business Insider spoke with three watch experts to find out which watches are the best to invest in, and which ones they would recommend to those looking to start (or expand) their watch portfolios. The list includes both new and secondhand watches. Keep reading to find out the 11 stand-out watches they recommend. 

Business Insider spoke with three watch experts to see which watches they would recommend for those looking to invest.

Bob's Watches Couch Rolex $250,000

The experts Business Insider spoke to all recommended the same brands: Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. These brands, in addition to Richard Milles, are synonymous with luxury in the watch world and make for a good long-term investment.

Tim Stracke, the CEO of Chrono24, a platform that allows customers to buy and sell pre-owned watches, told Business Insider that these top watch brands are known for their quality and craftsmanship, and are not produced en masse. 

“They are not available in unlimited numbers,” Stracke told Business Insider. “That’s why the demand is rising and prices remain stable or even grow.”

Audemars Piguet: Royal Oak Jumbo, Reference 15202ST

Audemars Piguet   Royal Oak Stahl

Retail Price Estimate: $27,600

Stracke told Business Insider that historically, “steel sports models from iconic brands” are usually the ones that out-perform the global stock indexes. 

One of his top picks is the Audemars Piguet: Royal Oak Jumbo, Reference 15202ST, pictured above. 

Patek Philippe: Steel Nautilus, Reference 5711

Patek Philippe   Nautilus Stahl

Retail Price Estimate: $74,796

He also recommends the Patek Philippe: Steel Nautilus, Reference 5711. And said that mechanical watches such as this “hit the ‘zeitgeist.'”

“They are a counterpoint to the ever-growing digitalization of our everyday life and remind us of the beauty of true craftsmanship,” he said. “Certain watch models are more sought after than others, which is mainly due to the brand reputation of the Swiss brands in terms of their craftsmanship.” 

Omega Speedmaster “First Omega in Space”

Omega   Speedmaster First in Space

Retail Price Estimate: $5,300

Another watch he recommends is the Omega Speedmaster “First Omega in Space” which he said is a “hidden champion” in watches. He also pointed to the fact that, over the last three years, this watch model has increased in value at a steady 10%. 

“[It’s] a great version of the legendary Moonwatch at a more affordable price point,” he said. 

Rolex: GMT, Reference 1675

Rolex GMT

Retail Price Estimate: $16,000 

Paul Altieri, CEO of Bob’s Watches, has similar recommendations for those looking to invest in watches, and one of his favorites is the Rolex GMT, Reference 1675.

“I always encourage folks to buy what they love and not what will end up being the ‘best investment’,” he told Business Insider. “Historically speaking, Rolex has done fantastically well appreciating in value in the past few decades. And they are — for the most part — affordable luxury.”

Rolex: Daytona, Reference 16520

Rolex Daytona

Retail Price Estimate: $27,500

Another one of his favorites is the Rolex Daytona, Reference 16520. 

“I am partial to the Rolex Submariner, Daytona, and GMT models,” Altieri continued. “You really can’t go wrong here, whether it’s a new model, pre-owned, or vintage.  As long as it’s an original honest example.” 

Rolex: Submariner, Reference 16800

Rolex Submariner reference 16800

Retail Price Estimate: $9,195

He is also a huge fan of the Rolex Submariner, Reference 16800. He pointed out that all of the three Rolex sports models — the Submariner, Daytona, and GMT, have increased substantially in demand over the past few years, as demand is what typically drives valuations. 

“They have all proven to be great investments over time,” he finished. 

Patek Philippe: Nautilus, Reference 3800

Patek Phillipe Nautilus
Patek Philippe Nautilus, circa 1978, in stainless steel. The Nautilus is arguably the most famous of Gerald Genta’s designs and adorned by collectors, new and old.

Retail Price Estimate: $44,900

Adam Golden, CEO of Menta Watches, also said it was best to stick with “blue chip” watches, such as the ones previously mentioned, and said he loves the Patek Philippe: Nautilus, Reference 3800, pictured above. 

“Patek Phillippe Nautilus, circa 1978, in stainless steel,” he said. “The Nautilus is arguably the most famous of Gerald Genta’s designs and adorned by collectors, new and old.”

Longines Vintage Chronograph, circa 1940-1950s

Longines chronograph
Incredibly rare Longines chronograph, circa 1940-1950s, powered by their important Cal. 13ZN movement

Retail Price Estimate: $3,000

However, he does say that it might be worth looking at other watches, like the Longines Chronograph from the 1940-1950s, as a good possible investment. 

“If you want to swerve off the beaten path, find models within “other” brands that have large cult followings,” Golden said. “For example, Longines chronographs from the 1930-1960s with Caliber 13ZN or 30CH movements — they have a rabid fanbase and will always be desirable, albeit to a smaller audience.”

Omega Speedmaster, Reference 2998-2

Reference 2998 2 Omega Speedmaster,
Reference 2998-2 Omega Speedmaster, which is one of the earliest Speedmasters produced by Omega, and one of the only references to use the famous “lollipop” chronograph hand. Early Speedmasters, such as this example, are grails amongst collectors, and finding well-preserved examples has become exceedingly difficult.

Retail Price Estimate: $37,500

Like Stracke, Golden is also a huge fan of the Omega Speedmaster series and recommends Reference 2298-2.

“It’s one of the only references to use the famous ‘lollipop’ chronograph hand,” he said about the watch. “Early Speedmasters, such as this example, are grails amongst collectors, and finding well-preserved examples has become exceedingly difficult.” 

Audemars Piguet: Royal Oak, Reference 5402

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Reference 5402, circa 1970s. Designed by Gerald Genta, the Royal Oak is the focal point and main attraction for the legendary watchmaker, and these first execution models have soared in popularity – finding a nice example has become harder and harder. This particular example is a first-series, or “A” series, meaning it was the very first batch of production, of only allegedly two thousand were produced.

Retail Price Estimate: $124,660

Another model Golden recommends is Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, Reference 5402, circa the 1970s, and designed by Gerald Genta. 

“The Royal Oak is the focal point and main attraction for the legendary watchmaker and these first execution models have soared in popularity,” Golden told Business Insider. “This particular example is a first-series, or “A” series, meaning it was the very first batch of production, of only allegedly two thousand were produced.”

Rolex: Gilt-dial Submariner, Reference 5513

Gilt dial Rolex Submariner
Gilt-dial Rolex Submariner, Ref. 5513, circa 1966. This dial variant is nicknamed the “Bart Simpson” due to the similar appearance of the coronet on the dial to the famous character’s head.

Retail Price Estimate: $28,500

Finally, Golden is a big fan of the Rolex Gilt-dial Submariner, Reference 5513. This model, he said, has been nicknamed the “Bart Simpson” because its coronet on the dial is similar to the famous character’s head.   

“Whenever I have someone ask me ‘what is the best watch to buy for investment purposes,’ my answer is usually the same — watches should, as a whole, not be treated as investments — they should be worn and enjoyed, as intended,” Golden said. “However, if you want to “protect” your purchases and asset, make sure you do your homework, and buy a watch in good condition, and as original as possible.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Are Texas and Florida the new California and New York?

elon musk.JPG
Elon Musk is the latest high-profile tech figure to relocate from California to Texas.

  • Texas and Florida are challenging California and New York, respectively, but will they replace them?
  • Tech elites from Silicon Valley have been flocking to Texas, mirroring Big Apple financiers on the east coast fleeing to Florida.
  • They’re all seeking warm weather, affordability, and low taxes as they leave behind a higher cost of living.
  • Texas and Florida may never truly displace California and New York, but the rivalry is real, positioning the southern states as true power players.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sunnier locales, lower taxes, and a more affordable cost of living. California’s tech elite and New York’s financiers are in pursuit of all three, and they’ve found that trifecta in Texas and Florida.

Out west, there’s a Silicon Valley exodus to Texas, headlined by Elon Musk’s and Oracle’s moves to the Lone Star State. And on the east coast, there’s the Wall Street exodus to Florida, marked by the relocation of Charles Schwab himself and reports of Goldman Sachs shifting some of its operations to the Sunshine State.

The pandemic-era rise of remote work has spurred companies and the individuals who work at them to reevaluate their locations and the lifestyle that comes with them.

The migration that has ensued is transforming the no-state income tax lands of Texas and Florida into the California and New York equivalents of 2020, but really only for the time being.

Silicon Valley is headed to Texas

San Francisco’s increasingly high costs, safety, and political climate are pushing some tech elites out of San Francisco, Business Insider’s Meghan Morris and Berber Jin reported

And it’s not just the bigwigs reconsidering their lifestyle. More than a third of Bay Area tech workers said in a recent survey they’d consider leaving if they could permanently work remotely. 

While Silicon Valley’s fleeing residents have scattered everywhere from Miami to Denver, most have flocked to Texas. Austin, long the center of Texas’ tech scene, has been a hot spot in particular. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Opendoor cofounder JD Ross are moving to the city, while companies are also relocating there, including software giant Oracle and the investment firm for venture capitalist and Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale.

larry ellison oracle smiling
Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison is moving Oracle’s headquarters to Austin, Texas.

Tesla also has a Cybertruck factory under construction in the area. Its founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is the latest high-profile tech figure to announce a move to Texas, but it’s unclear where in the state he’s moving. 

Even Houston has been attracting tech talent, with Hewlett Packard Enterprises relocating its headquarters there from San Jose.

“There are lots of people that have already moved that haven’t been written about that are pretty high profile,” venture capitalist Keith Rabois, who headed to Miami instead of Texas, told Morris and Jin. He declined to name who else left. “Post-COVID, I think the concentration of talent has atrophied, perhaps permanently.”

He said that pre-pandemic, San Francisco’s spot at the top of the tech hierarchy outweighed his dislike for the city, but remote work has scrambled that hierarchy. 

Wall Street is flocking to Florida

While California’s tech elite are packing up their bags for the Lone Star state, New York’s financiers are trading in skyscrapers for sunshine in Florida.

Hedge fund Elliott Management is moving its headquarters to West Palm Beach. Its co-chief investment officer, Jon Pollock, has reportedly been living in his West Palm Beach home during the pandemic. Charles Schwab, founder of the eponymous brokerage and asset management giant, also relocated to Palm Beach this year, voting registration records show.

Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, headquartered on Park Avenue in Manhattan, is opening an office in Miami with plans to bring as many as 215 technology-focused jobs there. More recently, Goldman Sachs has been considering plans to shift asset management operations out of New York, Bloomberg first reported.

West Palm Beach, FL
Big Apple financiers are heading to spots in South Florida, such as West Palm Beach.

Business Insider recently spoke with 13 finance and real estate professionals about Florida’s ascendant appeal amid the pandemic, many of whom described an uptick in bigger and longer office-space leases by out-of-state firms and high-end real estate inventory running low as Big Apple financiers flood the area.

Stephen Rutchik, Colliers’ executive managing director of office services for the South Florida region, had told Business Insider during these talks that low taxes, warmer weather, and a low-key vibe had lured financial services firms in recent years.

But interest really popped off in July, he said, when the industry had become more comfortable with remote work. Rutchik said his team is seeing unprecedented interest, with the call volume from prospective tenants increasing “overnight” to “torrential” levels.

“We’re touring hedge funds on our agency side one to three times a day,” he added.

CA and NY are still top, but TX and FL are officially in the game

While Texas and Florida are enjoying the limelight as the new hotspots, experts say they won’t come to dominate New York’s Wall Street and California’s Silicon Valley.

Jonathan Woloshin, head of real estate and financials research at UBS, acknowledged to Business Insider that Texas and Florida have been and will continue to be the beneficiaries of further population, job, and business growth, and job inflow will contain a greater percentage of “front line” work as opposed to back office-related functions. But they aren’t necessarily the “new” California and New York, he added. 

Ron Conway, the founder of SV Angels who’s been called “the godfather of Silicon Valley,” recently told Business Insider this isn’t the end for Northern California’s dominance.

“The Bay Area’s challenges can be frustrating, to be sure, but there’s still no place on earth like the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to talent, access to capital, and the tech ecosystem for startups that have created so many successful companies and founders,” he said. 

Wall Street, New York
Wall Street won’t lose its grip in the long run, experts say.

Regarding Florida, several experts Business Insider previously spoke with highlighted a few challenges that could ensure the real Wall Street hangs on to its core position: a tighter labor market, expensive relocation costs, and a shortage of available luxury homes, to name a few.

Across the pond, similar fears that London would lose its luster after the Brexit vote have (so far) proved unfounded. Despite UK fund managers predicting 16% of Britain’s asset management jobs would relocate, a Financial Times survey found the majority of international banks and asset managers have actually increased their number of London employees since 2015.

California and New York may remain unparalleled in the long run, but Texas and Florida’s elevated status as the current main attractions could give the former two a run for their money.

Woloshin said that as more individual wealth becomes concentrated in Florida and Texas, it’s likely that more venture-like and private equity fund-raising and investing could occur in both states.

“New York and California are likely to remain strong business destinations given their attractiveness to the talent pool,” he said. “However, going forward, they will not be the only game in town in terms of high-quality job and wealth creation.”

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The world’s most expensive pigeons are on sale again. Weeks after a record $1.9 million sale, 800 deluxe racing pigeons are up for auction.

racing pigeons
In this Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 file photo, pigeons fly inside their coop at Pigeon Paradise in Knesselare, Belgium.

  • There’s a new group of 800 racing pigeons up for auction after a record-breaking sale in November.
  • They include descendants of previous record-breaker Golden Prince, and they all come from breeder Gino Clicque.
  • Racing pigeons have picked up interest among the ultrawealthy in the past couple of years, particularly those from China.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A flock of 800 racing pigeons are up for auction starting today, following a historic sale in November.

In 2017, Belgian racing pigeon “Golden Prince” broke records when he was sold for €360,000 (almost $430,000 at today’s exchange rate). Since then, prices have been flying up for prize pigeons. 

In November, “New Kim” sold for $1.9 million – shattering the prior record set by the same owner for “Armando,” who reportedly plans to mate the pair.

The new crop of pigeons include several of Golden Prince’s descendants. All 800 of the pigeons come from one breeder, Gino Clicque; they were either born before 2019 or are new, “unflown” descendants.

Golden Prince’s then-record-breaking sale “proved that the Golden Prince bloodline is very interesting to potential buyers,” according to Sjoerd Lei, who works in the sales department of Pipa, the Belgian auction house that specializes in pigeons and is hosting the sale. His granddaughters, First Lady and Golden Princess, are among the more acclaimed pigeons up for sale.

New Kim’s record-breaking sale in November is part of a larger trend surrounding the sport. Pigeon racing, which began as a working-class sport after World War One, has become something of a prestige symbol for the wealthy. China in particular has seen a huge surge of interest.

Pipa’s Niels Cuelenaere previously told Business Insider that China has around “1 million pigeon fanciers,” and their numbers were only growing.

Lei said it’s “common sense” that Chinese buyers will be interested in the new auction, although it’s unclear if it will yield another record-breaking sale.

During New Kim’s record-breaking sale, visitors to Pipa’s site surged, according to Lei, but that has since quieted a bit. He said he expects interest to pick up again with the new sale. 

At press time, the bidding for pigeon “Golden King” was already up to €202,000 – around $245,345. 

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Bill Gates has been unseated as the world’s second-richest person. Here’s how he spends his $129 billion fortune, from a luxury-car collection to incredible real estate.

bill gates
Bill Gates has an estimated net worth of $129 billion.

  • Bill Gates, who has an estimated net worth of $129 billion, is no longer the world’s second-richest person.
  • Elon Musk unseated Gates’ title, but Gates is still one of three people in the world with a net worth over $100 billion.
  • While Gates indulges in a few luxuries, they make up only a fraction of his fortune.
  • He mainly spends his billions on charity through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and plans to give away most of his fortune.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bill Gates is no longer the world’s second-richest person.

That title goes to Elon Musk, who unseated Gates as the world’s second wealthiest in November. But Gates is still pretty wealthy, with an estimated net worth of $129 billion. He’s one of three people in the world with a net worth exceeding $100 billion.

Gates has made some lavish purchases over the years, including a Washington estate worth $125 million, a private airplane, and a luxury-car collection. More recently, he dropped $43 million on a 5,800-square-foot home in Del Mar, California. But these indulgences make up only a fraction of his massive fortune, and Gates isn’t known to throw his money around.

In fact, Gates and his wife, Melinda, previously said it’s unfair they’re so rich. Instead of spending billions on themselves, they often donate it to charity through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They’ve also pledged to give away most of their fortune through the Giving Pledge, which they launched in 2010.

Keep reading for a look at how Gates spends his billions.

Bill Gates, the cofounder of Microsoft, has an estimated net worth of $129 billion.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates speaking at an event in Washington, 2014.

Source: Bloomberg

He long held the title as the world’s second-richest person until Elon Musk unseated him in November 2020.

bill gates
Microsoft founder, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, on October 9, 2019.

Source: Business Insider

Now, Gates is the world’s third-richest person and part of a three-man club, with Jeff Bezos and Musk, of people currently worth more than $100 billion.

bill gates

Source: Business Insider

If he spent $1 million a day, it would take him more than 245 years to spend his fortune. Here’s how he spends his money.

Bill Gates.JPG

Source: Business Insider

Gates has invested in a variety of stocks and assets and launched a $1 billion investment fund, Breakthrough Energy, with 20 others.

bill gates

Source: Forbes

Despite his massive fortune, Gates previously told Ellen DeGeneres that when he became a billionaire at age 31 (history’s youngest billionaire at the time), he didn’t go on a spending spree.

bill gates ellen
Bill Gates on “Ellen.”

Source: Business Insider

But he has indulged in things over time, he said, like a private plane.

rich people private plane

Source: Business Insider

It’s been reported that Gates owns a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express, which costs $40 million and can seat up to 19 people.

Bombardier Global Express
Not Bill Gates’ personal plane.

Source: Business Insider

Gates also spent a lot on his estate, Xanadu 2.0, in Medina, Washington. It took him seven years and $63 million to build. He purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988.

Bill Gates House
This aerial photograph taken on July 13 shows Bill and Melinda Gates’ home in Medina, Washington which cost more than $60-million and four-years to build.

Source: Business Insider

At 66,000 square feet, his home is worth about $125 million today.

Bill Gates House Property

Source: Business Insider

In 2017, he paid $1,041,292.55 in property taxes on it, according to public filings.

Bill Gates House
An outside deck is shown at the home of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates Tuesday, April 18, 2006, in the Seattle suburb of Medina, WA.

Source: Business Insider

The estate has a trampoline room, which Gates told DeGeneres his three kids love.

Bill Gates Jennifer Gates

Source: Business Insider

There are roughly $80,000 worth of computer screens sitting around the house.

bill gates microsoft

Source: Business Insider

Devices worth $150,000 can display different paintings or photographs on the screens at a single touch.

bill gates art

Source: Business Insider

However, there are real paintings on the wall as well – like the Winslow Homer painting Gates purchased for $36 million in 1988.

winslow homer lost on the grand banks

Source: Business Insider

There’s also a 60-foot pool – in its own separate, 3,900 square-foot building.

bill gates pool house

Source: Business Insider

That’s not to mention the 2,100-square-foot library, home to a 16th-century Leonardo da Vinci manuscript that Gates bought at auction for $30 million in 1994.

codex leicester

Source: Business Insider

Gates reportedly pays to have sand imported from St. Lucia in the Caribbean to the shore surrounding his house.

st. lucia, saint lucia

Source: Business Insider

In addition to a home theater for 20 guests, six kitchens, and 24 bathrooms, Gates’ house has various garages for 23 cars.

bill gates home

Source: Business Insider

It’s perfect for Gates, an avid luxury-car collector. His first big splurge after founding Microsoft was a Porsche 911 supercar, he told DeGeneres. He later sold it, and it was auctioned for $80,000.

Porsche 911

Source: Business Insider

But that wasn’t Gates’ last Porsche. He also has a Porsche 959 in his car collection.

Porsche 959
Not Gates’ personal car.

Source: Business Insider

Outside of his Washington pad, Gates also has a 4.5-acre vacation ranch in Wellington, Florida, with a 12,864-square-foot mansion.

bill gates florida home

Source: Business Insider

He reportedly dropped $27 million to buy a whole string of properties in the area.

Wellington Florida

Source: Business Insider

The area is hotspot for wealthy equestrians. His daughter Jennifer is an accomplished equestrian, and he bought the property to support her passion.

Jennifer Gates horse

Source: Business Insider

In California, he owns the 228-acre Rancho Paseana, which he purchased for $18 million. It includes a racetrack, orchard, and five barns.

bill gates rancho paseana

Source: Business Insider

He added to his California real estate portfolio in 2020, dropping $43 million on an oceanfront home in Del Mar, California. It has six bedrooms, a 10-person Jacuzzi, and a swimming pool.

california coastline del mar homes
Del Mar, California.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

He also reportedly purchased a 492-acre Wyoming ranch, which listed for $8.9 million back in 2009.


Source: Business Insider

But Gates’ real-estate portfolio doesn’t end there.

Bill Gates

He’s made numerous investments through his personal investment firm, Cascade, including partial ownership of Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

charles hotel cambridge

Source: Business Insider

He reportedly owns nearly half of the Four Season Holding’s hotel chain through Cascade, including hotels in Atlanta and Houston.

four seasons atlanta

Source: Wall Street Journal

Gates shares 95% ownership with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia.

Four Seasons Hotel

Source: Wall Street Journal

In 2013, Gates and several unnamed buyers paid $161 million for the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. As of 2014, it was reportedly worth $200 million.

ritz carlton san francisco

Source: Wall Street Journal

When he’s not busy buying real estate or working, Gates needs a vacation or two to unwind.

bill gates vacation

He’s traveled to Australia and Croatia …


Source: Travel + Leisure, Forbes

… and Belize and the Amazon in Brazil.


Source: Travel + Leisure, Forbes

He’s also treated his family to a Mediterranean vacation on board the 439-foot superyacht Serene, which he chartered for $5 million a week. It included a helicopter.

Yacht Superyacht Serene
The superyacht Serene is pictured at Auckland’s Wynyard Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand.

Source: The Daily Mail

He previously said that he likes to play tennis and go skiing. He’s also been spotted spectating at tennis matches.

bill gates and roger federer

Source: The Telegraph

But Gates’ downtime isn’t always so adventurous. He’s an avid reader, having indulged in quite the book collection.

bill gates reading

Source: Business Insider

He’s also an “avid bridge player,” as he once told Reddit.

Bill Gates playing bridge

Source: Business Insider

Gates hates to shop for himself, but did admit that he likes to “buy nice things” for his wife, Melinda.

bill gates melinda gates

Source: CNBC

However, he once told Reddit that he doesn’t like overspending on clothes and jewelry.

bill gates

Source: CNBC

But Gates’ splurges are only a fraction of his massive fortune. He previously told The Telegraph, “I have no use for money.” Instead, he often donates to or invests his money in good causes.

bill gates

Source: The Telegraph

Gates previously invested in Amyris, a synthetic-biology company that originally produced precursors to malaria drugs and hydrocarbon-based biofuel. Today, it focuses on health through fragrances, skincare, and sweetener.

bill gates
Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City.

Source: Business Insider

In November 2017, Gates invested $50 million into Alzheimer’s research.

bill gates speaker

Source: Business Insider

He continued these efforts by recently investing $30 million with a group of investors into the Diagnostics Accelerator, a “venture philanthropy” fund to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier.

Bill Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2017.

Source: Business Insider

Gates and Melinda are huge on philanthropy. They were recently named the most generous philanthropists in the US by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, having donated more than $36 billion to charitable causes through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

bill gates philanthropy

Source: Business Insider

Gates agreed to give away most of his fortune through the Giving Pledge, which he launched in 2010.

bill and melinda gates

Source: Business Insider

The Gateses spent money traveling to Tanzania and other countries for charity work.

bill gates charity work

Source: Travel + Leisure

In 2017, they donated $4.78 billion, mostly to projects run by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

bill and melinda gates charity

Source: Business Insider

They donated more than $2 billion in 2016 to causes related to global health and development and US education.

charity bill and melinda gates

Source: Business Insider

They’ve pledged about $2 billion to defeat malaria, donated more than $50 million to fight Ebola, and pledged $38 million to a Japanese pharmaceutical company working to create a low-cost polio vaccine.

bill and melinda gates charity work

Source: Business Insider

The Gates Foundation has also committed at least $2.5 billion to the GAVI Alliance, which works to improve access to vaccines in poor countries.

charity bill gates

Source: Business Insider

Bill and Melinda also prioritize education. The Gates Foundation established the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which has received $1.6 billion.

bill gates stanford speech

Source: Business Insider

It also partnered with the Dangote Foundation in 2016 to spend $100 million on eliminating malnutrition in Nigeria.

bill gates in africa

Source: Business Insider

When it comes to the future of his fortune, Gates is leaving $10 million to each of his children, a fraction of his net worth.

bill gates family

Source: Business Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider

Philanthropy is still dominated by the ultrawealthy, but asking billionaires to solve inequality is colossally stupid

Finding Nemo Bruce
Bruce, one of the vegetarian sharks in “Finding Nemo.”

  • If 2020 has made anything clear, it’s that billionaires aren’t going to save us — and that goes for all the millions they spend on philanthropy.
  • Philanthropy is currently dominated by high-net-worth individuals, and philanthropy was already serving an outsized role in American life even before the inconsistent government response to the pandemic.
  • Anand Giridharadas, the author whose book “Winners Take All” criticizes this overreliance, told Business Insider that instead of funneling money into causes they’re passionate about, billionaires should instead be taking less from workers.
  • The reliance on high-net-worth individuals for philanthropy also leaves a gap that the government needs to step in and fill.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s an apt metaphor for the rhetoric of “billionaires will save us” in beloved children’s cartoon “Finding Nemo.”

Our protagonists – both fish – come across sharks who paradoxically claim to be vegetarian. The sharks, to their credit, seem pretty nice. They’re trying to reform, and don’t want the fish to be scared of them. Their refrain? “Fish are friends, not food.”

They seem to be holding strong until Dory gets a nosebleed. There’s literally blood in the water; primordial instincts win out, and the sharks attack. The fish were right to be scared.

In the case of widening inequality during the coronavirus pandemic, the refrain could become: “Lower-income people and workers are friends, not food.”

But when billionaires’ net worths grow by nearly $1 trillion during a pandemic – all while their frontline workers fall ill or don’t receive hazard pay, per a report by the Institute for Policy Studies – workers are right to feel scared. Even when those billionaires turn around and give hefty donations to coronavirus-related causes.

Philanthropy and charitable giving has become one major way for Americans to help each other in times of need, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. When the world came to a halt in March, Americans turned to GoFundMe, which the New York Times called “America’s Safety Net,” while the Gates Foundation has poured millions into pandemic-related causes, all as the government has failed to pass another stimulus following the expiration of the previous package in July.

Philanthropy on the whole is also “top-heavy,” dominated by high-net-worth individuals. Per a report from, small donor giving has declined over the past two decades, and “any increase in giving has been driven by donations by mega-donors and mega gifts over $300 million.” That means there’s fewer – but richer – people driving donations.

“We don’t need the richest and most powerful people in the society to give more. We need them to take less,” Anand Giridharadas, the author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” told Business Insider. 

“We don’t need them to make a difference. We need them to stop making a killing at the society’s expense. We don’t need them to increase their generosity. We need them to reduce their complicity and injustice.”

Anand Giridharadas
Anand Giridharadas, author of the book “Winners Take All.”

Giving is still dominated by high-net-worth individuals

This week, nonprofit organizations and foundations observed Giving Tuesday. It’s a day that a grassroots movement has been increasingly successful in connecting to charitable giving after the consumer blitzes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Giridharadas said there’s an important distinction between everyday Americans donating to causes they support and the ultrawealthy pouring huge donations into various causes. Someone donating $100 to a beloved cause is, as Giridharadas notes, “for the good” and worthy of celebration.

But ultrawealthy philanthropy is a different beast entirely, he said, because it’s “engaging in giving at a scale that is quasi-governmental in ways that often seek to erase and obscure” the ultrawealthy’s role in causing many of the social problems that they laterally become interested in solving.

Even though “Winners Take All” was published in 2018, it remains a hot-button publication, and still comes up in interviews with billionaires. In December 2020, one such billionaire, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, was asked by TIME magazine to comment on the book. 

Schmidt said he hasn’t read the book, that it has been described to him, and that he thinks there’s plenty of examples to both prove and disprove its thesis. Schmidt also said that Giridharadas’ main argument, that billionaires use philanthropy to alleviate social pressure while shaping change in a way to benefit themselves, “is certainly not my goal.”

A notable Democratic donor, with close ties to the Obama White House, Schmidt acknowledged that “the American Dream is in trouble,” as the average person hasn’t been doing much better over the last decade, while “the elite, obviously including myself, have done super well.”

A representative for Schmidt declined to comment to Business Insider.

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., and former CEO of Google.

A U-shaped philanthropy curve

Research has shown there’s a “U” shape of giving, with lower-income people – particularly those making under $30,000 a year – and higher-income people giving the most. 

Jacob Harold is the executive vice president of Candid, a nonprofit that helps connect people with information and data on giving. He said when looking at the numbers of how much people are giving, it’s important to recognize the distinction between giving as a percentage of income or as a percentage of wealth.

“You have folks at the lower end of the spectrum who really don’t have a lot of wealth,” Harold said. “And you also have people at the upper end of the spectrum, who are giving a lot as a percentage of their income, but actually aren’t touching their wealth, and so from that perspective are actually being less generous.”

High-net-worth individuals do generally give at a higher rate than anyone else. A 2018 study from Bank of America found that 90% of high-net-worth households had donated to charity in the past year. Meanwhile, a May 2020 Gallup survey found that 73% of American adults said they’d given to charity, a new low. That figure was even lower for lower-income households.

Dianne Chipps Bailey, managing director, National Philanthropic Strategy Executive at Bank of America, said the gap is “huge,” but grassroots initiatives like Giving Tuesday can help bridge it.

Among Bailey’s clients, she said she’s seen a “significant increase in interest” in giving “to achieve racial equity.” Her team has created a four-part starting plan for impactful giving towards racial equity. 

Jacqui Valouch, head of philanthropy at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, works with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. She told Business Insider that giving came to a halt in March, but was boosted “enormously” in the second half of the year.

Bill Gates Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates head up the Gates Foundation.

Some high-net-worth individuals are calling for stricter regulations on that giving

A subset of potential megadonors have even started to call for their own power to be curtailed.

Scott Wallace is the co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund, a member of the Patriotic Millionaires. This group of self-described “proud traitors to their class” wants all Americans to hold the same power as millionaires – and for its own taxes to be raised.

Wallace, who ran for Congress in 2018, told Business Insider, “if I have a choice between annoying some of the wealthiest dynasties in America by making them spend more” and “helping the people in my district be served by nonprofits,” the decision is “a total no-brainer.”

Its current crusade? Reforming charitable giving. The Patriotic Millionaires want to raise the minimum amount of assets that private foundations need to donate per year from 5% to 10%. Wallace said many foundations treat the 5% requirement as a floor, not a ceiling.

Another reform? Deductions for donor-advised funds (DAFs). Currently, someone can put assets into a DAF and deduct that full amount from their taxes immediately; all of that money is earmarked for nonprofit causes, but it could sit there for a while.

Under a related reform proposed by Wallace, DAF users would only get their tax breaks once the money leaves their account, instead of when it enters. Per Wallace, the reforms could unlock $200 billion for nonprofits – which could certainly need it this year.

The groups behind the initiative call it a “Emergency Charity Stimulus.”

anand giridharadas
Anand Giridharadas speaks onstage at Conversations About America’s Future: Senator Elizabeth Warren during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on March 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

But while reforms in giving could help, ultimately the government – and not billionaires – can provide the relief we need

Even if billionaires are donating meaningfully, they’re still individuals with their own interests.

Most importantly, they’re also not a replacement for the government – and that’s only become clearer with the lack of structural support in fighting coronavirus and racial inequities. A nonprofit can’t singlehandedly fend off the devastating effects of a global pandemic.

“We only will succeed with deep government involvement,” Harold said. “Even though it sounds like billionaires have a lot of money, in some ways it’s quite small compared to the trillions that the US government is able to bring to bear.”

That’s not to say there isn’t a role for billionaires. Rather than giving toward individual causes, or putting black squares on Instagram in support of racial equity, Giridharadas said they can fund programs that would benefit not just Black people, but all people – if they pay “proper taxes.”

“Are any of the wealthiest and most powerful people in our society serious about bending the arc toward justice?” Giridharadas asked. “And if so, are they willing to do the only thing that is actually going to get us there, which is fighting for the kind of systemic change that would reduce their own power?”

“And the good news is if they don’t want to do that, that’s fine. That’s sort of what I expect,” he said. “The rest of us have a way to do that – which is called democracy.”

[Editor’s note: The fifth paragraph was amended after publication to clarify that billionaires’ net worths grew by nearly $1 trillion amid the pandemic, per a report by the Institute for Policy Studies.]

Read the original article on Business Insider