This is a picture of John McAfee in 1989, before many of us even had computers, playing pretend doctor to a sick, sad IBM. Note the ice bag, teddy bear, and LOGO-style frowny face. So cute! We actually want this guy to be superrich. The Times really missed an opportunity today, in their lengthy story about how the fortunes of the superrich have collapsed. "For every investment banker whose pay has recovered to its prerecession levels, there are several who have lost their jobs — as well as many wealthy investors who have lost millions," the paper intones.
Last year, the number of Americans with a net worth of at least $30 million dropped 24 percent ... Monthly income from stock dividends, which is concentrated among the affluent, has fallen more than 20 percent since last summer, the biggest such decline since the government began keeping records in 1959 … An index that tracks the price of art, the Mei Moses index, has dropped 32 percent in the last six months. The New York Yankees failed to sell many of the most expensive tickets in their new stadium and had to drop the price. In one ZIP code in Vail, Colo., only five homes sold for more than $2 million in the first half of this year, down from 34 in the first half of 2007, according to MDA Dataquick. In Bronxville, an affluent New York suburb, the decline was to two, from 17, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
But the Times simply chose the wrong fellow to serve as synecdoche for the superrich as a whole. John McAfee, the computer anti-virus whiz whose financial collapse they followed, is just too likable for proper Schadenfreude. McAfee, "whose tattoos and tinted hair suggest an independent streak" (was that even a little bitchy, Times?), was a serial investor who liked to travel through Mexico, India, and Nepal, and wrote a book about yoga. He quickly bored with his own projects, but always managed to make money off of new investments. And he had a really fun house!