Are there many advantages to being born the son or daughter of a billionaire many times over? Sure. Financial security. Unparalleled opportunities. World is your oyster type stuff. But there’s also a dark side that few people ever see or talk about, which can make being astonishingly wealthy by virtue of birth all the more isolating and hard. And it probably seems like no one cares about your or your plight or the anguish that comes with being able to exclusively pursue your passions instead of working because your net worth is at a level that there is “no point in going out to make more money.” Except for one: the New York Times. Today, in an effort to show kids born into immense privilege that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, the Gray Lady has run a profile of Alexander Soros, son of George, which examines the struggles he faced in coming to terms with being rich. They included:
Never getting to live in a McMansion.
Alex Soros spent his youth padding around a Charles A. Platt-designed 14-room house on a sprawling country estate in Katonah, N.Y. His mother, Susan Weber Soros, now divorced from his father, founded the Bard Graduate Center for the decorative arts and adorned the house with Sargents and Cassatts. Their place in the city was a duplex at 1060 Fifth Avenue. While his parents worked, he spent much of his time with his younger brother, Gregory, now 23 and pursuing a career as an artist; his nanny, Ping, from China; and the staff…Mr. Soros was acutely aware that he lived in a privileged bubble, and sometimes dreamed of living in a subdivision, where he could play football in the street with other boys. “As a kid, all you want to be is normal,” he said. “When all you’re being fed is vichyssoise, you want to eat Big Macs like everyone else.”
Not being seen as an intellectual.
After King Low Heywood Thomas, a prep school in Stamford, Conn., he attended New York University, where he tried to come to grips with expectations that came with his last name. For a period, he brooded, and gained weight. “Alex sought anonymity,” said Adam Braun, a former roommate. “He wanted to be known as the intellectual, not the son of the financier.” Alex hated small talk, Mr. Braun added, and he would ditch parties early to go home and curl up with his Baudrillard.
Being seen as a “party-boy” who posted pictures on Facebook with captions like “chilling at dad’s house in Southampton, drinking 40s while cruising on the family boat, and making out with the babes,” after posting pictures on Facebook with captions like “chilling at dad’s house in Southampton, drinking 40s while cruising on the family boat, and making out with the babes.”
…after graduation, he came out of his shell and started to socialize. He made new friends, some of whom were nightclub habitués looking to trade on his name, he said. It was around that time that Facebook pictures [“chilling at dad’s house in Southampton, drinking 40s while cruising on the family boat, and making out with the babes"] of him popped up. He was shocked to be portrayed as another helium-weight Hamptons party boy swilling away his trust fund. “I became this caricature,” he said.
Despite all the obstacles, though, this story has a happy ending. After “wrestling with his moneyed upbringing,” Soros came to grips with who he is and what he’s worth, monetarily-speaking. He was born rich and he’s OK with that.
Mr. Soros, now 26, is taking the stage on his own terms, though in a direction his father clearly approves: philanthropy. Last fall, while pursing his Ph.D. in history at Berkeley, the younger Mr. Soros started the Alexander Soros Foundation. Its stated mission is to promote social justice and human rights…These days, he divides the bulk of his time between Berkeley and New York. Alex admits that his lifestyle is wildly at odds with that of most graduate students. He has a house in North Berkeley, a two-bedroom apartment near Astor Place in Manhattan and a place in South Kensington, London. He collects art by Otto Dix and George Grosz, and has “a couple of Magrittes,” he said.
He has also given up on the idea that he can escape public scrutiny. His trip to Florianópolis, a Brazilian island getaway, with buddies a couple of years ago somehow landed on Page Six, which had him partying alongside the actor Stephen Dorff (“I’ve never even met Stephen Dorff,” he said).
“I live well,” he told the Times for its investigative report, which includes a series of It Gets Better videos. “I try to stay reasonable, but it’s very hard to say what is reasonable. There’s not a how-to book. In a way, if you try to live quote-unquote normal, you’re being disingenuous.”
Making Good On The Family Name [NYT]