How many physicians do you know socially? Probably not many. You know lots of accountants and lawyers, but few anesthesiologists or heart surgeons. If there is a big hospital nearby, they must live somewhere. The seriously wealthy find ways to fly under the radar. How do they do it?
But First, the Greatest Story About Wealth and Anonymity
The Aldi supermarket chain is big in Germany. It’s actually two separate businesses that were owned by the late Albrecht brothers — Aldi Sud, owned by Karl Albrecht, and Aldi Nord, owned by Theo Albrecht, who also owned Trader Joe’s. The following is a direct quote from “The Trader Joe’s Adventure” by Len Lewis (2005, Dearborn Trade Publishing).
“In fact, the last time the brothers hit the headlines was in 1971 after Theo Albrecht was kidnapped. This is yet another reason the entire family is so media shy. Apparently kidnappers looked at this somewhat shabbily dressed man and kept asking him if he was really Theo Albrecht. Then they demanded to see his identification after throwing him in getaway car.”
How Do The Wealthy Buy Privacy?
Let’s look at ten ways seriously wealthy people maintain a low profile. Not everyone does everything, but a few examples should ring bells about people in your area.
1. Avoid publicity. In England, it’s said a gentleman’s name should only appear in the newspaper on three occasions: Birth, marriage and death. Publicity attracts attention. When you have money, lots of people want to separate you from some of it or help manage it. When you look at those “100 Richest People” lists, a few have no photos or very dated images.
2. Give anonymously. When charities look for donors, logically they do some research on who gave major gifts to the hospital, museum and other high-profile worthy causes. Most charities give the option to opt out of their published donor lists, having their gift listed as “anonymous.” They are doing good, not seeking recognition.
3. Unlisted phone numbers. This one’s pretty obvious. It gets tougher when they have multiple phones. Voicemail works as an effective screener. Don’t answer, review messages later. They have screeners at the office. Technology allows you to hide pretty effectively.
4. Hidden houses. In the U.S., we are into power lawns. Large properties are often positioned in a parklike setting. In the UK, a house “not visible from the road” is a privacy asset. This doesn’t require large amounts of land. A wall running along the property’s edge or a line of trees delivers the same result. If the house is buried in the woods, a gravel driveway (it makes noise when cars approach) or a battered mailbox often don’t get a second glance.