Say, you’re rich. Really rich. Tom Cruise rich — the kind of rich that should have him rebuking those who dare comment on his diminutive stature with the rebuttal, “If I were to stand atop all my money, I would be the tallest man on earth.” And, say, if — like Tom Cruise, Roman Abramovich or even that nameless Chinese billionaire who makes that tiny but crucial widget that makes your iPhone work — you want to instantly recognize if the person seated beside you at dinner also has a walk-in closet stacked so precariously high with €1,000 notes that he almost perished from lucre-induced suffocation when it once toppled on top of him, how do you go about it subtly? Sadly, in the era of leased supercars, rented mega-homes and borrowed über-yachts, it has become increasingly difficult to discern the pretender from the genuinely minted.
In the old days, men of a certain net worth could join special clubs — the Skull and Bones club at Yale University, for example. They could reveal their wealth ineffably through secret handshakes or special rings that were signifiers of inclusion into that wonderful parallel universe where money flows lovingly like milk from a triple-“E”-cup mother’s teat. But with scholarship students now ensconced shoulder-to-shoulder with bona fide heirs-apparent, a cultivated accent, a well-tanned ankle or a certain nonchalant elegance is absolutely no assurance of bank-account solidity. Sadly, the secret handshake of today pales in comparison to the secret handshake of yesteryear as a gauge of true limitless checkbook depth.