The next generation of Paris Hiltons

The rich kids of America are coming into their own. But it’s not all bad news.


Lauren Greenfield: documenting "generation wealth"
(Image credit: Copyright (c) 2018 Shutterstock. No use without permission.)

Doctors have a saying that the best diseases to specialise in are those of the rich. Photographer Lauren Greenfield seems to have been thinking along similar lines. While "trying to form trusting relationships with members of a Mayan tribe in Mexico in the early 1990s", she "picked up a discarded copy of Bret Easton Ellis's novel Less Than Zero", says Rupert Neate in The Guardian. After reading about "the parties, drug taking and sex lives of rich college kids", she decided it would be more interesting "to swap photography subjects" from the Maya of Chiapas to the "rich kids of her home town".

Twenty-five years later, she "has amassed 500,000 images of the often absurd lives of the wealthy", which she is now using as the basis for a book and documentary entitled Generation Wealth. Over this period her subjects' attitude to flaunting their wealth has changed. Initially, "getting permission from parents to document their kids' lifestyles sometimes proved difficult" as the parents "wanted to be a little discreet". Fast-forward to the present day and parents' attitudes have completely changed. Some of them even boast that their children "are just like Paris Hilton". Indeed, when she went back to her old school to do some filming, the children "pulled cash out of their pockets, posing for the camera".

Breakdown and redemption

Some of Greenfield's subjects have changed for the better though. Until the global financial crisis, the German hedge-fund wizard Florian Homm was "a German Gordon Gekko" with a net worth estimated at $500m, says Christopher Goodwin in The Times. In September 2007, Homm disappeared into the night, "with $1.2m in cash stuffed into his Calvin Klein underwear, cigar boxes and suitcases". He then "vanished for five years, living in Colombia and elsewhere".

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Homm claims his disappearance was prompted by a "profound spiritual and moral breakdown", but his investors claim he "orchestrated a huge stock scam", allegedly laundering $53m in ill-gotten gains "into bank accounts, properties, gold and art all over the world". After six years on the run he was arrested in Florence in 2013. He successfully fought extradition and was eventually released by the Italian authorities and returned to Germany, out of the reach of US and Swiss prosecutors.

This experience genuinely seems to have altered Homm's attitudes. Despite the fact that his bank accounts are frozen, and he is "apparently living on little more than a €700 monthly disability pension", he "claims to be happier than he has ever been", and is raising money "to help disabled and disadvantaged children". Greenfield thinks he might be genuine: "In moments of devastating personal or communal crash, there is insight, and with that insight there is the possibility for change". America Magazine's John Anderson is more sceptical about the "overbearing, cigar-smoking Homm". But even he accepts that Homm's words and behaviour "seem to verge on the penitential and even profound". Let us hope that they are right.

Tabloid money Her Majesty brings Trump to heel

Donald Trump did not arrive in Britain "so much as descend from the skies la Apocalypse Now, with his monogrammed helicopters, his motorcade, his 160-strong security detail, his £1.5m armour-plated limo called the Beast", says Rachel Johnson in the Mail on Sunday. But in the end, we turned the tables on him. All Trump was really interested in was tea with the Queen. And in Her Majesty, Trump met his match. She managed to bring the unruly, unreliable, unpredictable Trump to heel as if she were house training a puppy. He may have brought his Beast, but we do pomp and ceremony like no other country. We don't need his expeditionary force of an entourage, his hot air about a hard Brexit, because we have all the soft power of an old lady with a handbag. He came. We saw. But she conquered.

Somewhere in the leafy shires, a middle-class parent is composing their Ocado order of mung beans, quinoa, Fair Trade bananas and ethically sourced fish for their next right-on dinner party, says Jane Moore in The Sun. "Then later, oh the irony, they'll be back online to order special topping' from a local cocaine dealer who, according to the Global Drug Survey, can now deliver it faster than a pizza." These deliveries are often made by vulnerable teenagers, who are recruited at the school gates or from care homes, lured by the promise of cash or designer trainers. "So the next time a middle-class drug user is about to call their dealer, perhaps they could pause... to consider that while the contents of their fridge are aimed atkeeping their own children healthy, the contents of their nose is potentially destroying the lives of other youngsters caught up in the vicious cycle of their tawdry habit."

"Mumpreneur" is a new word, but the reality has been around for a long time, says Carole Ann Rice in the Daily Express. The truth is, women thrive in setting up their own businesses. Debbie Gilbert is one mumpreneur who started her business 20 years ago when she launched Mums UnLtd and Viva Networking, as well as the Best Business Women Awards. She has now written a wonderful warts-and-all book, The Successful Mumpreneur a guide to the pitfalls and pleasures of business for go-getting mothers.