back to article Petition instructs Jeff Bezos to buy, eat world's most famous painting

Ultra-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has already been the subject of a petition asking him not to return to Earth after he blasts off in his New Shepard rocket on July 20, but even if he is allowed back, Bezos is now facing an even more difficult prospect. The aerodynamically-pated arch-villain archetype and his vast …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Given that Bezos is currently worth $193.5bn, according to Forbes' latest estimate..."

    Not to get in the way of a tasty bootnote, but you do know this doesn't mean he actually *has* $193.5b, right? Nor could he obtain that much cash by liquidating his assets. These "net worth" figures are based on a blend of guesswork and regulatory filings, and even where it's known for certain that someone has X shares in some listed company, the people compiling these figures simply multiply X by some recent closing price and call it good. In reality, order books are not infinitely deep, and anyone trying to sell some large X number of shares will find that the price he gets for more than the first few thousand quickly approaches zero.

    As a result, no one who wants to unload a large ownership interest does so on the public markets, which also means the actual price paid (almost always quite a lot lower) has to be negotiated with one of the small number of capable buyers. Furthermore, most of the people who end up on these lists have huge concentrations in individual companies. The knowledge that they want to sell makes potential buyers wary -- a product of a market inefficiency called information asymmetry. You can read about all of these things in any introductory secondary school economics text.

    I'm sure Mr Bezos has plenty of money all the same, but the idea that someone automatically must have no trouble finding $500m in cash just because some magazine published an inflated estimate of his nominal net worth is pretty silly. The amount of cash someone has, or could readily access, is at most weakly related to the nominal market value of his illiquid assets. That's exactly why some assets command a "liquidity premium" -- and assets like real estate, helicopters, and shares in an overvalued Internet retailer are not among them. If Mr Bezos's wealth consisted mainly of gold, Treasuries, gilts, cash, and the like, it would be a different story. It doesn't, so whether you rely on Forbes to keep score or as a source of outrage, you need to know that those numbers are largely meaningless.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Holmes

      It doesn't matter. If he can sell it all for 1% of the valuation, then that be almost two thousand million bucks! Now, with that cash, ignoring interest, he may go and spend at a constant rate of one dollar per second(*). At that rate he may do so for the next 63 years! Well beyond any estimated time-to-death for that guy.

      (*) note that spending 86400 dollars per day is more than a lot of very poor people have in an entire lifetime.

      1. martyn.hare

        A very educational petition

        Gobbling the Mona Lisa would be one of the first times Jeff would reduce, rather than generate value, unless of course, the original famous work has no intrinsic value. This assumes of course that there is no extrinsic value to be created in his gobbling of it, such as if Jeff were to find himself fully satiated having only gobbled a small portion of the work. This also assumes Jeff does not suffer lead poisoning from the type of paint used. If both are true, then he will have created more overall value and would be richer for it too!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A very educational petition

          No corporation owned or founded by Mr Bezos has ever paid a dividend. He has therefore never created value for anyone, save possibly himself. Eating a painting would produce faeces, which could be composted and used to improve the soil. His corpse can do the same. He is worthless.

          1. Robert Grant Silver badge

            Re: A very educational petition

            > No corporation owned or founded by Mr Bezos has ever paid a dividend. He has therefore never created value for anyone, save possibly himself

            All that money has come from creating value. Paying dividends is not the same as creating value.

            1. b0llchit Silver badge

              Re: A very educational petition

              All that money has come from creating value.

              That is a euphemism for moving money from the poor to the rich.

              1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells
                Facepalm

                Re: A very educational petition

                [eyeroll]

            2. The Indomitable Gall

              Re: A very educational petition

              What value has he created?

              Everything I've ever bought from Amazon I could have bought from somewhere else.

              Amazon shuffles goods from one place to another while avoiding taxes and dividends.

              In the process it has made life harder for other middlemen who treat their employees well enough that they're not afraid to take a pee break.

              Fewer jobs, less tax in the treasury... seems to me society isn't really better off for Amazon's existence...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A very educational petition

                Well, there's this little thing called AWS that Amazon started for it's own purposes and then span off, pretty much creating a whole new industry.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: A very educational petition

          "This assumes of course that there is no extrinsic value to be created in his gobbling of it, "

          He video the act and sell the NFT for the video.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      So he doesn’t have it. And, as we all know, you can’t have your cake and eat it. So, I think what you’re saying he has already eaten a significant proportion of his fortune?

      Makes perfect sense. Probably why this petition will go nowhere, he’s already full up.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Despite what you said he still has enough money to buy the Mona Lisa, the problem is that if they would sell it or not.

  2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    persuade Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa

    No; because then he'd make even more money by selling it as a Non-Flushable Token.

  3. Chas E. Erath

    A lame excuse

    "While it is unlikely that the French Republic would part with the painting..."

    Buy France then. Duh?

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: A lame excuse

      Or persuade Italy to ask for the return of "their" painting, then steal it in transit in a Bond-esque plot?

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: A lame excuse

        > Italy to ask for the return of "their" painting

        Impossible. It's Da Vinci himself who took the painting with him to France in his old days, and he gave it himself as a gift to the french king. Therefor there is no legal basis to claim Italy has been in any way spoiled.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: A lame excuse

          ...and anyway, there was no such place as Italy back then :-)

  4. DJ

    Worth <> cash

    One's net worth is not necessarily the same as dosh in one's wallet.

    Not being of an accountancy nature, I wonder how do the rich-on-paper crowd scrape by?

    Borrow against their shares? Slip a few out of the till when no one's looking?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Worth <> cash

      There are many ways, for example one could set up a charity that will look after them and make company to donate the money for such a worthy cause...

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Worth <> cash

      @DJ "Borrow against their shares?" That might not be that far from the truth. Borrow against your wealth and use the interest expenses as deductions on their income.

      Article here on the BBC "US super-rich 'pay almost no income tax'"

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57383869

      More here

      https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Worth <> cash

        The point is they aren't super rich; they have a high net worth that means lending them money is very likely to work out okay. For those that go bankrupt that vanishes at that point; for the others they pay the money back out of sales of shares (that they pay tax on).

    3. gotes

      Re: Worth <> cash

      Probably a lot of their day to day expenditure is "business expenses".

    4. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Worth <> cash

      Well in the case of Bezos, over 25 years of drawing a salary as Amazon's CEO means he's probably not merely rich on paper.

      His salary is "only" $81k, but his total compensation package excluding stock is $1.6million.

  5. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Pint

    Well-phrased

    "aerodynamically-pated arch-villain archetype"

    Have a pint on me.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Inappropriate

    "Given that Bezos is currently worth $193.5bn, according to Forbes' latest estimate..."

    And given there are reports that Amazon workers sleep in tents to save money.

    And "Amazon pays £290m in UK tax as sales surge to £14bn" (2020)

    ...why is it appropriate to write joyful articles about such person?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inappropriate

      I know for some it feels good to demonise people, but please don't drag us all down. Quote profits vs tax, not revenue vs tax.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Inappropriate

        Why should I quote profits? Have you heard of Dutch Sandwich and many many other ways to artificially reduce profits, so that company can pay little or no tax?

        You can't be serious.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Inappropriate

          Are you?

          If these are legal schemes, go scream at your law makers, not Amazon or Bezos.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Inappropriate

            > If these are legal schemes, go scream at your law makers, not Amazon or Bezos.

            I understand you are the type that would defend slave owners because it was legal?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Inappropriate

              OK so you're not serious.

          2. LovesTha

            Re: Inappropriate

            I have enough breath to do both.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inappropriate

      If Amazon did "AWS Alexa Personal Tax accountant", and let me use their tricks to legally reduce my tax outlay, I'd subscribe in a hearbeat.

      I'd rather Bezos buy a superyacht, that Bojo the Bozo give his crummy mates £12m in consultation fees for PPE contracts.

    3. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Re: Inappropriate

      Grow up

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Louvre boast

    I touched the Venus de Milo after closing time. I fully expected an alarm and to be arrested, but non. I subsequently suspected the most famous items are replaced with facsimiles to protect against idiots like me, but as far as I know I touched the Venus de Milo. I didn't touch her breasts, I am not a pervert and besides, she is far taller than me even without the plinth. I rubbed her belly.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Louvre boast

      I hear she’s pretty ‘armless anyway…

  8. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Barry Callebaut to Bezos' rescue...

    https://www.barry-callebaut.com/en-GB/artisans/mona-lisa

    The Mona Lisa of chocolate.

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Forbidden Fruit

    but much cheaper than the Mona Lisa...

    How edible is an Apple Lisa?

    1. adam 40 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Forbidden Fruit

      Furthermore I would have thought the Mona Lisa would be fairly toxic, as the paint pigments would contain lead oxide, and quite possibly mercury.

      Don't do it Jeff!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How did so many miss this ???!!!

    "Sometimes, even Jeff Bezos has to pay attention to local comp-a-Titian laws."

    Surely should be .....

    "Sometimes, even Jeff Bezos has to pay attention to local chomp-a-Titian laws."

    Don't thank me, I blame is on the Dandy & Beano of my youth !!! :)

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Glorification of Vandalism?

    I guess I might be a little alone here, but this makes me feel very queasy. It's a celebration of mindless vandalism, which is the sign of an terminally decadent civilization, as in "we don't know what to do anymore to entertain ourselves in our existential ennui".

    What would you say if somebody suggested Bezos (because he has enough influence to evade retribution), should go out and run over an old lady with his car? And then progressively thousands of people join in in requesting that an old lady is killed, claiming their lives are bland unless the old lady dies and all that?

    What's next?

  13. Xalran
    Facepalm

    they can be sold

    "Unfortunately, artworks owned by French public bodies cannot be sold or given away, as Article 451-5 of the French “Heritage Code” law governing national treasures stipulates: “Collections held in museums that belong to public bodies are considered public property and cannot be otherwise.” "

    Just nitpicking, but French public bodies can and will sell items coming from museum collections. That's what Les Domaines are for.

    ( https://encheres-domaine.gouv.fr/hermes/ go in the luxe category and you'll see a few paintings being auctionned ).

    Now there's more chances of survival for a snowball in hell than for The Louvre to send The Mona Lisa to the Domaines for auctionning.

    ( basically they will be auctionning lots of other paintings before that )

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