Posted by: Brad Nixon | June 11, 2014

Your Limitless Wealth

There’s a long list of things that you’ll be able to do with your limitless wealth once it arrives. The list isn’t infinite, because some things — death and people believing Fox News — are beyond the means of any human agency to influence. Foremost, there are countless philanthropic causes and charities that would be glad to have your unlimited wealth to do nearly unlimited good (“nearly,” because administrative costs will eat up a certain percentage of your wealth, depending on the effectiveness and integrity of their administrators).

You could solve a whole lot of the problems that just irk the heck out of you. In my case, I might put my yet-to-be-realized limitless wealth to work to sponsor research that would result in a device that, installed in an automobile, would make it impossible to make a turn unless the turn signal is on. There might be some safety issues related to this device, but, after all, a lot of wealth buys a lot of research (depending on effectiveness, integrity, etc. etc.). A related arm of Western Skies Unlimited Wealth Research (WSUWR) could work on a device that would disable cars momentarily at every stop sign, bringing them to a full stop, and make it impossible to drive over the speed limit in school zones during school hours. Call me a dreamer. Were I a skeptic, I’d create a division of WSUWR to work in Khazakhstan or China or some other lawless place developing the work-around devices to defeat my own inventions, and sell those for incredible prices on the black market, insuring a steady stream of — yes — more unlimited wealth.

On the other hand, you could simply have a good time. One can assume there’s a great deal of fun to be had with unlimited wealth. However, due to technical details like inflation, entropy, stupid friends, crooked yacht dealers, unsympathetic law enforcement officials, etc., no one yet — as reported in the finer journalistic outlets which cover those having a good time with limitless wealth such as People Magazine, Us Magazine, Vanity Fair, etc. — seems to have cracked the code. Perhaps those individuals were misled regarding the magnitude of their bank accounts, or perhaps they simply lost track of how many close personal friends they’d attracted in Las Vegas or Macau.

Or, what if you devoted yourself to collecting art? Lots of it. Not just enough to fill all your mansions (with unlimited wealth, you’ll need multiple mansions in various locales), or even a good-sized museum. I’m talking warehouses stuffed with paintings, statues, ceramics, textiles and photography. Plenty of limitless-wealthers have tried this before. But wait, there’s more.

Now, let’s say you buy a mountaintop in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities, with some of the most expensive real estate anywhere. You hire a world-renowned architect and you build a for-real Palace of Art on that mountain. You equip it not just with galleries, but with a staff of curators and conservationists and scholars — an entire foundation devoted to researching, preserving and understanding this stuff.

Then: You open it to the public. For free.

That, my friends, is wealth unimaginable.

No, I’m not talking about Charles Foster Kane or his real-life avatar, William Randolph Hearst. True, Hearst did make a stab at this sort of thing at his joint, La Cuesta Encantada (we call it Hearst Castle), although there’s no evidence he ever intended to invite the public. Instead, mobs of his friends and associates came in every weekend by train, plane and carriage to enjoy the enchantments of the place. It’s now open to the public, but not for free. And there’s a heck of a drive to get there (although it’s a lovely drive), and the Hearst Corporation will no longer send a car and driver to get you there.

Instead, I’m describing (somewhat hyperbolically) the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Getty Center Brad Nixon 0254 (640x480)

Getty was the embodiment of the Rich Industrialist, having made his pile in the petroleum biz. According to Wikipedia (CLICK HERE), he was once considered the wealthiest private citizen on earth (leading one to assume that certain kings, queens, rapacious dictators, etc. took enough money out of public coffers to outrank him). He shuffled off both this mortal coil and a couple billion dollars, assigning about $660 million of it to endow his foundation, museums and research institute. Technically, it wasn’t unlimited wealth, but enough to make even Scrooge McDuck blink.

Getty and his Foundation actually established TWO museums. The first one, begun during Getty’s lifetime, opened in 1974, is “The Getty Villa.” Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it’s a lavish recreation of a Roman villa from Herculaneum, and houses an immense collection of antiquities: sculpture, mosaics and architecture, not to mention lovely gardens. Contrary to what you might assume, this was not Mr. Getty’s residence. He built it because he was running out of room to display his collections in a gallery he had opened adjacent to his home, nearby. He did more or less what you’ll do with your unlimited wealth when you face similar circumstances: he built a massive ancient villa on a staggering scale and filled it with pieces from his vast collection. It’s a wonderful place to visit. To get there, follow Steely Dan’s directions: “Drive west on Sunset to the sea,” then turn right on Pacific Coast Highway. I’m sorry to report that finding directions and visit details on the Getty site is not straightforward (unlimited wealth apparently doesn’t buy an easy to use website), so CLICK HERE for the info. Admission is free, but you need to reserve a ticket in advance, and parking is $15 (welcome to L.A.).

Once you park, you ride a tram to the museum proper. Or, you can walk … about 15 minutes.

Getty Center Tram Brad Nixon 0247 (640x480)

In addition to the museum attraction, you’ll be smack-dab on the edge of the continent, overlooking the Pacific, and you can drive out to Malibu or south to Santa Monica or Venice after you view the antiquities.

CLICK HERE to read more details about the Villa on Wikipedia, not described on the somewhat sparse Getty site.

After a few decades, the Getty Foundation realized they were lacking space to display all the other stuff they had: post-antiquity art, one of the world’s largest photographic archives and, well, a trove of stuff. So they bought a mountaintop (or maybe they already owned it), carved it up and hired Richard Meier to design a Xanadu of art: The Getty Center. It looms over the entire Los Angeles basin and it is simply not to be missed when you come here. If you enjoy almost any type of art in practically any medium, they have some world class examples of it there, and the setting alone is worth the trip, particularly if you’re here on one of the 300 days of sunshine we get in L.A. Vast views east, south and west span the basin and out across the Pacific. The complex itself is worth walking around just to enjoy the architecture and the garden, if you never enter a single one of the many galleries.

Again, admission is free (no reservation required at this one), and, yes, there’s a fee for parking (you CAN get there via bus and dodge the fee). Once you step off the tram, you enter a world that vast wealth created and, unaccountably, opened up to everyone.

Getty from tram Brad Nixon 0249 (640x480)

CLICK HERE for Getty Center admission details.

If you’re coming for a visit, we’ll go with you to see the Getty — either one. Really, do come visit. It’s not every day you see Unlimited Wealth at work. Thanks, Mr. Getty.

Have you visited these museums? We’d love to hear your comments.

© Brad Nixon 2014, 2017. Note that Getty zealously, rightfully safeguards imagery of their properties and extensive collections. No use of imagery of any Getty property is permitted without express permission, except for personal, noncommercial applications like this blog.

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