Written by: Philippe Riboton
JUDGING BY the reluctance we encountered when approaching people about this month’s cover story on the lifestyle of the Czech millionaires, one could conclude that it is still difficult to speak about one’s wealth. However, those which rank in the dollar millionaires club are no longer exceptions in the local landscape – according to a recent report conducted by Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini, there are around 11,000 of them in the Czech Republic. This quantitative evaluation is confirmed by such developments as the proliferation of private banking in recent years. If you want to be invited to private gallery viewings and exclusive concerts by your banker, you may have to give him or her a minimum of CZK 3 million to play with. Similarly, a weekend promenade through the quiet and green streets of Průhonice or Horoměřice will bring you face-to-face with new houses that rarely fall under the CZK 20 million mark. Needless to point out, Porsches, Jaguars, Maseratis, and other “super-cars” can be regularly seen cruising the streets of Prague. But if members of the millionaires’ club tend to display their wealth through the car they drive or the house they live in, most still don’t want to talk about it. Some say this is a matter of family security, and one can easily understand that. Particularly when police officers are joining the “ordinary criminals” club, as illustrated by the recent arrest of a few cops in conjunction with abduction affairs. But there might be other reasons for silence. Some may have trouble explaining exactly how they accumulated that level of affluence – unless they admitted that they “successfully” specialized in siphoning kickbacks and cooking up shady privatization deals. This is good reason to praise those that agreed to come forward and speak to our journalists. Not only do they help the business sphere appear more transparent, but they also send the signal that there is now a group of people who earned success and fortune through long, hard work. And that there is simply nothing bad about it.