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The ultra-rich are just different

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THE rich sure are different from you and Mark Mascia. His middle-class upbringing in leafy Connecticut hadnt prepared the money man for the rarefied world of unimaginable wealth.

Mascia, 33, raised $50 million in 2006 for a private-equity fund specialising in white-hot commercial real estate for wealthy investors. When its annualised returns soared as high as 12 per cent, he became a hot commodity himself.

Some of Americas richest families old and new money have come knocking on his door.

I wasnt poor. My dad was a doctor. I lived a comfortable lifestyle, but I was by no means wealthy, Mascia told The Post. And there was simply nothing in my upbringing that would have prepared me for the people I am dealing with now.

These people belong to the family offices catered to by his New York-based Mascia Development.

These family offices notoriously secretive hold and manage assets in excess of $1 billion each. And although thats smaller than the reported $10 billion held by Point72 Asset Management the family office of Connecticut billionaire investor Steven Cohen Mascias families have upped their game.

Their real estate investment holdings have jumped from 7 per cent to 10 per cent in the past 24 months alone.

But it is the lifestyles of his wealthy families some with fortunes that predate the First World War that often amaze Mascia. Forget about the island retreats, yachts, art, private jets, servants and mansion though there are those family dynamics are much more interesting.

We have some who are very, very eccentric clients. Some worry about people prying into their business, Mascia said. And then there are others who are the most dysfunctional youve seen it is the craziest, movie-type thing you could possibly imagine. People throwing things at each other at family meetings. Some give all their money away to charity sometimes to spite their children.

And despite the vast riches, some folks travel incognito and are indistinguishable from your next-door neighbour in Queens.

There are people who live the lifestyle with all the excesses, but then there are other ultra-rich people I know who drive around in a 20-year-old Volkswagen and live in a $300,000 to $500,000 home and just happen to be worth tons of money. They dont find the trappings of wealth attractive.

Not all rich families are so temperate. Many have blown the family inheritance, with internal feuds and overindulgence emptying coffers and trust funds.

Many of New Yorks mega-rich, though, still seem a long way from losing it all.

New Yorks Hearst family is regarded as the states richest, with an estimated net worth of $35 billon spread among 64 members. The Hearsts and New Yorks Rockefellers, with $10 billion among an estimated 200, wont be visiting pawnbrokers.

The Empire State leads the nation in the number of billion-dollar families and their total wealth 26 families with $159 billion combined, according to Forbes.

From an early age, I was taught the great responsibilities that come with wealth, the enormous importance of being frugal and the protection of wealth was instilled in me, Christopher Tsai, the 39-year-old son of the late Chinese-American billionaire investor legend, Gerald Tsai, told The Post.

Many of the families I deal with are families I admire in the way they deal with each other amicably, said Mascia. And they help each other.

This article originally appeared on The New York Post.



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