By Jude Webber / Financial Times
Mexico is home to chutzpah on a grand scale. The country’s 16 billionaires have combined wealth of $144.5 billion, according to Forbes’ The World’s Billionaires list, amounting to some 11.5 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Some of the country’s rich, such as Carlos Slim, Mexico’s wealthiest man, are humble. While the telecoms tycoon has built a museum to house his art collection, including numerous Rodin sculptures, he lives unostentatiously.
But for the rich, flaunting the trappings of their wealth is entirely natural in a bling-crazy country, as Mexican photographer Daniela Rossell captured to perfection in her book Rich and Famous. Its portraits, taken between 1994 and 2001, show a rarefied world in which luxe ladies of leisure idle in their designer clothes and kitsch mansions. One tweet about the book notes tartly: “It’s a bit old now, but I doubt much has changed.”
Indeed it hasn’t. In Mexico it appears accepted, expected even, for success to translate into lavish lifestyles.
In this middle-income, emerging economy, where 52 per cent of the population live in poverty, the lives of the rich are eased by armies of staff, beach and country homes and shopping trips abroad. “It’s like in Miami, only cheaper,” says one well-connected consultant.