You know times are tough when the rich start cutting costs on their mistresses.
According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of
multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on
their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire
cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for
"Rich people are getting hit, and they're all expressing the need to
curtail unnecessary spending," said Russ Alan Prince, president of
Prince & Assoc., a wealth-research firm based in Connecticut. "Lovers
are part of the same calculation."
Of course, any study of millionaires and their mistresses should be
taken with a large grain of salt. The survey–a subset of a larger
wealth study–polled 191 individuals with a minimum net worth of $20
million who said they had lovers of at least a year or more (this to
screen out the one-night stands, etc.). About two thirds of the
respondents were men and one third women. All were married and all had
personal control over their finances, meaning the women and men
surveyed were the primary wealth holders in their homes.
The most surprising stats in the study relate to gender and what might
be termed "length of service." Fully 82% of men in the study said they
planned to lower the allowances to their mistresses, while more than
three quarters planned to provide fewer gifts, less expensive gifts
and fewer perks, like jet rides, resort vacations and top restaurant
Women were far more generous to their paramours in the face of
financial crises. Less than 20% planned to lower allowances, gifts and
perks, while more than half planned to raise them.
Susan Shapiro Barash, who teaches gender studies at Marymount
Manhattan College and wrote "Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets,"
about why women lie, said women value their lovers more than men in a
time of economic trouble. "For the women, lovers matter more than ever
now because the rest of life is so dreary," she said. "For the men,
they're just cutting across the board."
Ms. Barash added that women may value their lovers more today because
their husbands are so miserable. "If your husband lost his job on Wall
Street and he's miserable, you need the escape," she says.
The duration of the relationship also seems to play a role in the
economics of high-end cavorting. The study found that more than two
thirds of the millionaires who had been with their lovers for three or
more years planned to cut back. That compares with less than half for
those with a tenure of one to three years.
"What we found in talking to the respondents is that the magic of the
relationship with their lover fades after a while, so they're more
willing to let them go," Mr. Prince says.
The survey doesn't mean to suggest that all, most or even a large
minority of rich men and women have affairs. It simply is a snapshot
of a certain sample at a certain time. Yet it suggests that in a time
of financial crisis, it is better to be a kept man than a compensated
UPDATE: Since so many readers asked about the survey's methodology, I
called Russ Prince to get the specifics. The mistress questions were
added to the end of a much larger survey on wealth and wealth
management polling a control group of 518 people. Of the 518 people
surveyed as part of the broader study, 191 opted to answer the
mistress question. The 518 respondents were all private jet owners —
since this was done in conjunction with a private-jet-related business
— and all the respondents were paid for their time.