The dubious charms of Monaco

Even Monaco, the playground of billionaires, wants to distance itself from the likes of Sir Philip Green.


Even Monaco is feeling queasy having to watch this

A sunny place for shady people. Somerset Maugham's phrase for the Riviera is still apt enough but there are limits, even in a place like Monaco. The Monaco royal family is said to be so concerned that Sir Philip Green is giving the principality a bad name that it is considering revoking his wife's residency. In the light of all the publicity about BHS, even Monaco, says Katie Glass in The Sunday Times, "felt squeamish" watching Green take possession of a new £100m yacht.

One of his neighbours thinks he's "dragging the whole principality into the dirt". Glass describes Le Roccabella, the building where he has an apartment, as "an ugly beige rectangle with orange awnings flapping over narrow balconies". Ugly, yes, but not cheap. You won't get a flat in the 27-storey block for less than £20m.

But while the architecture may be as overrated as the beaches, Monaco has its advantages if you don't like tax. And if you want to show off. "Rich people come to Monaco to peacock," explains a regular. "To parade their new bigger boat, the new car, the new girlfriend." Gaudy displays of wealth, says Glass, are encouraged and everyone looks like Philip Green: "Ronseal tan, thinning hair, mobile phone glued to hand".

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Glass walks to Twiga, where two Russian footballers allegedly spent £210,000 on 500 bottles of champagne, then goes to Alain Ducasse's restaurant, La Trattoria, one of Green's favourites, where you can get lamb chops for £38. "I sit beneath pink-lit palm trees and faux Roman columns wondering if this was where Green planned his toga party 60th birthday, when he blew £5m flying 200 people to Cyprus."

It's just the place where Green would fit in, says Glass. "I hear he likes it flash." A Monaco neighbour describes him as "rude and nasty He always to a certain extent paid for his company by entertaining people to such ridiculous extravagance that they'd go along because they fancied the party rather than because they liked him. But once you've gone past a certain point of reputation, even the inducement of being flown around the world or staying in a sumptuous hotel isn't enough."

Another acquaintance, in London, says: "He is horrendous. Rude, not at all charming. The wife is perfectly nice just naff. Like a taxi driver, but with some cash."

Why I quit Wall Street

Lives that revolve round money are rarely as happy as they seem. In The Times on Monday, Sam Polk, a former hedge fund trader, talked about his former life as a "wolf of Wall Street". Polk, who has written a book called For the Love of Money, says the huge bonuses and $700 hotel rooms in the Caribbean started to sicken him, and he eventually quit.

Now, at 36, he's running a food business for low-income families in Los Angeles, and much happier. Suddenly his family and friends matter most, as they didn't on Wall Street. He says simply: "If you have a life focused on self and accumulation, no matter how wealthy you get, there is just no satisfaction at the end of that road."

Tabloid money "By the time you read this, the average fat cat will have pocketed another quid"

By the time you read this sentence, the average FTSE 100 fat cat boss will have pocketed another £1. So let's keep this brief. The High Pay Centre on its website has a "hypnotic" salary clock for a typical "boardroom baron", which started on 4 January, explains Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror. By the end of the year, it will be showing £4.96m. "Another sentence, another pound on the total These unjustified, colossal sums illustrate the fundamental unfairness of a warped economy run in the interests of a few."

So shame on the government for not backing the striking cleaners in their battle with ISS. The "hugely profitable contractor" cut their hours so they wouldn't gain from the increased £7.20-an-hour minimum wage. (Two minutes, 24 seconds if you were wondering.) "Slowing the High Pay Centre's clock and boosting wages from the bottom is the key test for every political party."

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) may be short of a bob or two to keep its warships in the water, says Charlotte Griffiths in The Mail on Sunday, but it has the cash to splash on "flashy uniforms" for its celebrity ambassadors. A Freedom of Information request revealed that cyclist Sir Chris Hoy's RAF uniform, consisting of a two-piece suit, cap, shirt and tie, cost £896.54.

The Olympic gold medallist is far from the only one to bear an honorary rank and tie. There's also Group Captain Carol Voderman, who is at least a qualified pilot; TV historian come Army Reserve Colonel Dan Snow; and Royal Marine Lieutenant Colonel Bear Grylls. In total, the MoD has spent £100,000 on the military get-ups. But lest you jump the gun, the MoD adds that there were no further costs for Group Captain Hoy, as he "did not receive any training". Funny that.

On the subject of titles, does George Osborne deserve to be made a Companion of Honour, asks Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. It was the former chancellor who "threatened economic isolation, soaring unemployment and an emergency tax-raising budget if we dared to vote Out'".