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Rupert Hoogewerf is interviewed by Shanghai Urbananonymy on his ten-year operation of documenting wealth in China with his Hurun or China Rich List. What are the differences between the British and the Chinese well-to-do?
The entrepreneurs in China are all first generation. In Britain the Duke of Argyle, for instance, can trace his roots back to the year 600. If you go through The Sunday Times rich list you see that the focus is less on entrepreneurs, it’s more on aristocrats. But in China’s there’s no old money. Everyone started from the same point, although some were born into families with connections and were able to leverage those connections to get their first break.
And what was his quirkiest billionaire?
We had a crocodile farmer in south China. He had the largest crocodile farm… leather and meat. He’s no longer on the list. The crocodiles ate so much food they put him out of business. He had something like 30,000, 40,000 crocodiles, which is a lot of crocs. This year someone fell off the list because they got divorced, the settlement cost him a mint. I’ve been looking for the sex toy manufacturers, who apparently have 90 percent of the world’s sex toy market. But it’s very difficult to find the king of porn and value him.
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