Somebody (F. Scott Fitzgerald maybe?) said there's no such thing as being too rich, but apparently if you're really rich, just how rich can be a matter of pride. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has a big media and Internet empire and a few small bed and breakfasts like the Georges V in Paris and the Savoy in London among his holdings, plus some stakes in little start-ups like Apple, NewsCorp, and Citigroup, is mad as hell at Forbes magazine and isn't going to take it anymore. In their annual list of the world's richest people, they said he was worth $20 billion. (More from Forbes on him here.) That kept him out of the coveted 10 Richest People list; in fact, he's a mere number 26.
The horror. After the report came out he announced he was cutting all ties to Forbes. Now he's gone a step further: he's suing Forbes in a British court for libel..
The prince, who, it should be noted, has made most of his billions from shrewd investments and entrepreneurship, not from oil or inheritance, (though being a Saudi prince no doubt opened doors), has been protesting that he's worth at least $30 billion and says Forbes under-counted him by $9.6 billion. To be fair, he is not your stereotypical Saudi royal but a very shrewd businessman, a self-made man almost, who started with nothing but the title "Saudi Prince" and a few million dollars. And he is ticked off. Royally, one might say.
I am reminded of the remark by the late Senator Everett Dirksen, in the early 1960s I think, about the US Federal budget: "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."
I will leave the legal issues to the British courts. I do want to say something to both sides. If Forbes ever chooses to list me among the world's richest people, I will not sue them for gross exaggeration, but try to parlay it into some advantage (free lunches?). And to Prince Alwaleed: I fully believe that you are as rich as you say and not the struggling $20 billion pauper that Forbes claimed. You may even be richer than that, and I would certainly put you in the top 10. I know you were an Internet pioneer; do you need any bloggers? Anyway, you've been wronged. Should you need to contact me about further blogposts about you, my email appears elsewhere on this page and my bank account number can be provided for wire transfer purposes if desired.