I Flyered the Poshest Part of London to Ask Rich People for Money

Let's face it, that wealth isn't going to redistribute itself!
Author Eleanor Margolis flyering people for money in West London
The author. Photos: Bex Wade

An ongoing conversation I have with my girlfriend is about what we’d do for money:

“Would you touch Donald Trump’s dick for a grand?” I ask her, for example.

“No!” she says. “It’d have to be way more.”

“Come on,” I say. “It’s still a grand for doing basically nothing.”

“No. It’s very much a grand for touching Donald Trump’s dick.

I wonder if people have always had conversations like this. If money has always played funhouse mirror with our ethics and imaginations; if 16th century ladies were like, “Wouldst thou lay thine hand upon King Henry’s lance for a half sovereign?”


Now though, the gaping maw between the richest and poorest gives cause for us to – at the very least – ask the big questions about the mental things we’d do for a little bit of extra income. In 2016, the Office for National Statistics found that, in the UK, the richest 10 percent of households hold 40 percent of all wealth, while the poorest 50 percent own just 9 percent. With another four years of Tory rule and the added sting of a pandemic, that wealth certainly isn’t going to redistribute itself.

It’s no exaggeration to say I – for one – have zero prospects of ever owning property. I’m a writer (lol), I currently have £23 in my savings account, and I don’t stand to inherit anything. Even if I stopped splashing all my expendable income on therapy and avocados, like the sad millennial I am, I’d maybe have enough saved up for a parking space in zone four by the mid-2030s.

Flyering Kensington for money

The author in west London.

Meanwhile, across the country and particularly in London, I’m living in close proximity to eyewateringly large pockets of wealth. There are just over 2000 billionaires in the world, and London is home to 80 of the fuckers. And if just one of those billionaires was prepared to toss some of whatever it is billionaires consider chump change at me, I’d probably be set for life. In short: I’m ready to sell out.

But in order to sell out, you need something to sell. And all I have in this department, I guess, is my dignity. Which is why I find myself on a weekday afternoon, a few months before the advent of the lockdown, wandering down Kensington Palace Gardens (aka Billionaire’s Row) with a bag full of flyers. Any given house on this street is worth around £30 million. And as soon as turn onto it, the dogs instantly get posher. One guy in a gilet is walking a beagle and a Yorkshire terrier. A woman (also in a gilet) waits while her mastiff does a big, mastiff-size shit under a tree. All three of these dogs probably have a higher net worth than me.

Flyering rich people for money

Flyering a black Range Rover.

A lot of the grand, white mansions along here are embassies. I’ve already passed by France, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nepal. But there are private residences too, including those of Roman Abramovich, Leonard Blavatnik, and Lakshmi Mittal. Oh, as well as various royals of course. I stop outside one absolute beast of a house, look around me for one of the several armed guards who parade the street, and begin masking taping one of my flyers to a bit of wall. It reads:

More money than you know what to do with?

Let me help!

Hi there. For reasons beyond my control (I’m a writer) I will never be able to own a house. I’m 30 and my prospects are narrowing. How about redistributing some of your wealth into my bank account?

On tear-off strips across the bottom are PayPal.Me URLs. I tear off a couple of them myself, to make it look as if some passing billionaires have already shown an interest. My hope is that there’s a competitiveness amongst the mega-rich when it comes to both tax evasion and philanthropy.

Flyering posh people in London for money

Flyering outside Kensington Gardens.

It’s funny how loitering on a street with houses worth more than the GDP of Tuvalu can make you feel like a criminal. It’s like that sense of unease you feel while groping for ripe fruit in Morrisons, while a security guard watches.

As I quite hurriedly make my way off of Billionaire’s Row and onto High Street Kensington, I spot Peter Phillips – the Queen’s grandson – taking a leisurely, rich man’s stroll towards Kensington Gardens. An elegantly dressed woman of about 80 – quite possibly a minor royal herself – has just warned me not to stop outside the Israeli embassy, because I might “get killed”.

Sitting on a doorstep asking Kylie Jenner for money

Texting Kylie Jenner for money.

Off the high street and through a cloud of cigar smoke, I enter one of Kensington’s fat, white squares. With a gentle steadiness usually reserved for a particularly tense game of Jenga, I place one of my very stupid flyers on the windscreen of a Bentley. I hit up a few other mega-cars, including a monster of a Jeep with a matte black finish, which – I imagine – could belong to my future billionaire lesbian sugar mummy.

I sit on the steps to a medium-sized house (probably only worth about £15 million) and try and figure out what percentage of Kylie Jenner’s net worth ($1 billion) would bag me a deposit on a house. If only my maths teacher knew that possibly the first time I ever – as an adult – had to express one number as a percentage of another, it would be for this. So there I sit, sliding into the Insta DMs of the world’s youngest billionaire, informing Jenner of this figure and asking if she’ll give some of it to me. As I hit send, the monumental grossness of this experiment hits me in the gut. Who am I? What am I? What even is money? What – most horrifyingly – if this actually works?

Asking Kylie Jenner for money

Asking Kylie Jenner on Instagram for money.

Later at home, before logging into PayPal, a tiny part of me is terrified there might be money waiting for me in my account. I wonder if I could actually live with myself if some slick oil baron threw me a bone, and I took it. Because… well… all things considered I would quite like some financial security, please. It’s Donald Trump’s dick all over again, but a fraction more real.

There they are though, as soon as I press enter; three zeros, eyeing me up in disgust. The relief. The disappointment. The nagging feeling that this is the dumbest stunt I’ve pulled since I ran out of money as a student and tried to sell a pencil for a grand on eBay.

As I write this, it’s been five days since I put up my flyers and messaged Kylie Jenner. My PayPal balance is still – a lot like my prospects – absolute zero.