Herewith, the first weekly vignette in my new Thursday feature:
When I first started practicing in this field in the late 1980s, I enjoyed titillating glimpses into a lifestyle that I could not have imagined growing up in a small upstate town. One of our clients had a Renoir hanging over the toilet in the powder room. Another had a full-time silver polisher on his household staff. Yet another had an entire room filled with her shoes and someone who came in twice a week to clean and polish them. The very first client whose case I worked on as a young associate earned $20M per year -- and that was when twenty million dollars was still a lot of money! Despite the tens of millions of dollars of assets that changed hands in that case, the settlement came down to one lapis lazuli picture frame the parties had acquired at Aspreys. Neither party would budge -- each one wanted it. The solution? The lawyers, who were exhausted and exasperated after four years of litigation, ordered a duplicate from Aspreys and told each party that he/she had prevailed.
"They were new money, without a doubt: so new it shrieked. Their clothes looked as if they'd covered themselves in glue, then rolled around in hundred-dollar bills." Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin.