This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
Christian Jagodzinski can't tell me exactly how much he's worth, but he guesses it's around $55 million (£41 million). He is, to put it in economic terms, loaded. Christian became a millionaire at 29, when he sold his online bookstore to Amazon. These days, his empire includes real estate – he mostly rents out villas to other rich people.
Christian's home in Miami alone is worth about $25 million. It's fitted with a terrace jacuzzi, a guest house, a pool house and a home cinema with a light display of the night sky in the ceiling. When the 48-year-old German wants to go on holiday, he takes a private jet to Mykonos, and when he and his friends want to party, he'll spend $10,000 in one night without batting an eye – mostly on Champagne.
I spoke with Christian to find out whether life really is more amazing when you're extremely rich. Apart from confirming it was, he also told me why all of his friends are rich too, how much more he'd like to have and why he thinks some people could never be as wealthy as he is.
VICE: How has having so much money affected your personality?
Christian Jagodzinski: I try not to let my wealth corrupt me. It can get to people. For example, lots of rich men don't look after their health or their weight – they think it doesn't matter if they have a bit of a belly, because women will be interested in them anyway. That might be true, but I still always try to stay in shape.
And you have to be wary of people who are only interested in your money and not in you as a person. I know it sounds bad, but that has changed the way I arrange my social life – I only really make friends with other wealthy people.
Are you saying women flirt with you just because you're rich?
I'm happily married with two kids, so I don't really go out anymore. But a lot of my friends have gotten married to people who were only looking for a quick way to get rich, yeah. To be honest, most of those friends knew that was the case before they got married, but they weren't bothered – they enjoyed the attention.
Don't you think that's really sad?
I mean, I would never want to be in a relationship like that myself, but I'm quite attractive – some of my friends aren't. I know a guy who feels the need to bring up the fact that he's worth hundreds of millions within five minutes of meeting a woman.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone richer than you?
No. It would be hard to find someone like that, because there are only about 200,000 truly wealthy people in the world, and almost all of them are men and a lot older than me. At 48, I'm pretty young for a millionaire.
Are you jealous of people who have more money than you?
Not really, because I don't actually need any more money. Sure, if I had a 100 million instead of 50 million, I could buy a yacht or a private jet, rather than chartering them. But I'm not sure that would make me happier. I've come to the conclusion that if you have over 30 million, you don't really need more money.
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Are you worried about losing your fortune?
It would be quite a challenge to lose all my money. I think I could only lose it through really bad investments, not with my lifestyle. In 2008, during the housing crisis, my assets went down from 50 million to about 40 million. That didn't affect my day-to-day life at all, but it annoyed me – I felt like I hadn't done my job properly.
Have you ever bribed anyone?
No, and even if I wanted to, I live in America and it doesn't work like that here. There's no need to, either – I can just hire a good lawyer and get what I want through legal means. But when I want a table at a restaurant and it's all booked up, I might slip someone 100 or 200 dollars.
Do you pay your taxes?
Yes, I do. America is an exciting place from a tax perspective, especially for real estate investors. I left Germany because my tax burden was over 50 percent. If you want to take more than half my earnings, I'm going to move.
German authorities have this strange Robin Hood mentality – they think you can just take money from the rich and give it to the poor. Honestly, only someone without any money could have thought of it. I think that when a rich person is paying 30 percent in taxes, it hurts just as much as when someone with little money is paying 30 percent.
Why do you think not everyone is as rich as you are?
I think most people aren't determined enough. They want more money, but with as little effort as possible. That's just not how it works. When you're trying to build a business, you must be completely committed – picturing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow should be all the motivation you need. When I was 20, I said I wanted to be earning at least a million a year by the time I was 30, so I organised my life around achieving that.
If you walk past a homeless person, how much money do you give them?
That's a difficult question. If I give him $20, I think he'll just go spend it on a bottle of whiskey, and what good would that do? I gave a homeless guy in Miami a job once, and he still works for me now. To me, that's much better than just giving him money, even if you'd give so much he'd last a month on it.