• Wed
  • Apr 16, 2014
  • Updated: 10:46pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:58pm

One picture says it all for the artfully rich Max Burger

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

Nobody can accuse Max Burger of being shy about being wealthy. Burger is the CEO and a joint controlling shareholder of Hong Kong-based investment company Golien.

He and his wife Monique have built up a huge collection of paintings which, according to The Art Economist, included more than 1,000 works by 120 artists in 2011. Golien, the website says, primarily invests in companies which are "close to the consumer, with niche products in a large market, acting below the radar screens of the large multinationals, owning the critical steps of the value chain, having a defendable unique selling proposition and realistic improvement".

Burger's expertise in this field is presumably why he is one of the judges for InvestHK's StartmeupHK Venture Programme. The judges will choose the best three of 12 entrepreneurs from around the world who will be given free business support to develop their businesses in Hong Kong. They will know when they have become successful when they too, like Burger, can commission a portrait by the artist Julian Opie at a not inconsiderable sum, and use it on LinkedIn.

 

The importance of being affluent

What does it mean for Hongkongers to be affluent? Just over 60 per cent equate luxury with having the time to do what they want and slightly less associated it with owning the best brands, according to the latest Visa Affluent Study. Hong Kong's affluent spend high amounts on items such as designer watches (average maximum amount spent was HK$26,400), jewellery (average maximum spent HK$23,100) and family holidays (average maximum spent HK$21,200).

Although only 31 per cent of Hong Kong's rich believe the local economy will improve over the next year, some 60 per cent of them think their personal incomes will grow, and more than 50 per cent expect their discretionary spending to rise. Visa's study - which measured propensity to increase or decrease discretionary spending - was conducted across Asia and the Middle East. Hong Kong scored 125, reflecting a high propensity to spend over the next 12 months. China topped the list with 143, followed by India (139) and Indonesia (128).

 

Buffett drawn to the Bad side

When he is not thinking about stocks it is understood that the Sage of Omaha - Warren Buffett - takes his ease by watching the hit US TV show Breaking Bad.

According to The Telegraph, the great man is such a fan of the show that he has filmed a sketch intended for a shareholder meeting of his Berkshire Hathaway company with Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston. Buffett has praised Cranston's character in the show, Walter White, as "a great businessman".

This has surprised some people and had them wondering if the old boy had dozed off while watching. As the newspaper observes, Buffett's "great businessman" is considered by other viewers as, "a New Mexico drug kingpin who has killed two dozen men, poisoned a small child, and lied his way to the top of the crystal meth industry". Even bankers aren't that bad.

 

No tapering of risk in US

Next month in the US sees the start of a "confluence of risky economic events that's unlike anything we can recall", the Business Insider website says.

These include a fight over the government's budget, leading to a possible government shutdown, and over the debt ceiling. Then there's the beginning of the Federal Reserve's tapering - that is, the reduction in quantitative easing - and the appointment of a new Fed chairman to replace Ben Bernanke.

Each one of these events could be economically significant, according to the website, while together they could be more than a trifle exciting.

 

Vulgaria star tires of showbiz

Our heart goes out to DaDa Chan Ching, the model cum actress who at the tender age of 24 is quitting showbiz. This is despite her winning the award for best supporting actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards in April for her performance in Vulgaria.

She is retiring due to a host of problems which she enumerates on her blog. They include fatigue, harsh comments, stress, agony, emotional, health, family and love problems. Understandably, these problems have made her very tired.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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