Billionaires Have Different Pets Than You and Me.

I’m not a billionaire — yet — but my editor told me this week that Le Road Trip has sold out of its first run and is going into a second printing so wealth and fame can’t be far behind. So I better take notes on how my soon-to-be-peers live — I want to fit in when we all get together and complain about the 99.9% who live off my job creation, those sluggards. Dim wits. Hoi Polloi. Hey! Not being rich is your own damn fault!

But I digress.

Once a year, a certain hedge fund billionairein Westchester, New York opens his garden on behalf of the Garden Conservancy. So I moseyed up to Katonah to get a look at my soon-to-be-neighbor.

The first thing I noticed was the zebras. Note to self: Billionaries need zebras in the back yard.

Note to self: Also, find out where to buy a zebra saddle.

And then there were the camels.

These are the two-hump kind of camels which, I think, only come from Mongolia. Note to self: start thinking of cute names for pet camels. Ullan and Baator? Marlboro and Kent?

I was told by one of the 20 attendandts who were there directing traffic that they average 750 cars every time this garden is open to the public. Don’t worry: there’s room for 750 cars here. This billionaire has a 55-acre backyard. Plenty of room enough for all these nosey parkers, plus a flock of flamingos:

And monkeys: 

And kangaroos (red and white):

Now, when it comes to kangaroos, this is money well spent. I do love me them kangaroos. So having a dozen kangaroos romping in my backyard is just like being in Australia without all the bother of a 20-hour plane ride.

After the kangaroos, all the emus and ostriches and black swans and other rare birds that were wandering around the backyard didn’t really grab my attention. For the rest of my walk around the property, I only have pictures of the really, really cute pets.

Like this guy:

We weren’t allowed inside the greenhouse where the billionaire grows rare tropical fruits from Asia and India, but we were permitted to stare…

….at the adorable tiny monkeys eating all the rare tropical fruits from India and Asia:

This fella is the size of a Barbie doll.  Cute!

This guy was the size of a very fat Labradoodle:

There was a woman who, upon catching sight of this little piggy ( a capybara, the world’s largest rodent, from South America, weighing about 40 pounds), exclaimed to her husband and kids: “Look! A hippopotamus!”  Secret note to self: It’s worth devoting great sums of money to keep morons away from me and my capybaras.

I almost missed this guy, who was napping with his herd in the Westchester savanna:

It took a half hour, but he finally revealed his full cerval self.

This kitty took an interest in me, and wandered over to my side of the fence to sniff my camera. I tried to get a close up of those infinitely beautiful and hypnotic cat eyes…

…but I only got his chin.

I know, I know:  You want to know what a billionaire’s garden looks like.

For one thing, there aren’t many flower beds except in the one-acre cutting garden (roses and tulips this time of year). Mostly the estate is a series of beautifully landscaped rolling hills to create habitats for the living lawn ornaments. But there is a spectacularly original garden that expresses the billionaire soul; It’s a 5-acre maple grove planted with every species of maple tree.

There are wonderful paths all through this space. And several bridges — this one is the Moss Bridge:

And this one is the Japanese Bridge:

Japanese bridges are usually painted vermillion (Monet either didn’t know or didn’t care about this when he painted his Giverny bridge that blue-green color) and the use of that Japanese maple tree is outstanding. Japanese maples are prized in Japan for their intricately gnarled branches, and this tree has maximum visual interest plus it mimics the arch of the bridge. This exquisite tableau is the mark of a true connoisseur, and represents a very high taste level.

It takes about two hours to walk around and take in a 55-acre garden, for your information. I was very satisfied with the day, having learned quite a bit about the de rigueurs of the Billionaire’s Club.

But there was one last thing I  had to check out. I walked all the way up the quarter-mile long driveway, all the way to the quaint dirt road that this billionaire lives on, because I had to find the answer to a question I’ve always had about billionaires.

Q: What does a billionaire’s mailbox look like?

Now I know.

10 Comments, RSS

  1. Deborah

    Congratulations on the 2nd printing!

    I’m going to gloat all weekend because my mailbox is prettier than a billionaire’s!

    And, really, if you take away the exotic animals, my backyard looks pretty much like that, sans the bridges and 54 2/3 of the acres.

  2. julie

    Love the photos of the garden paths, the bridges, the maples. As always, your insights, humor and blog are a high point of the week.

  3. I always said if I won the lottery I’d buy the house next door, knock it down, and build a little park/garden/outdoor studio space. It’s only 1/4th an acre, but hey- I’ll take it.

  4. Nadine

    What, no wombat? Pffft.

    But the cerval, the roos and the maples are a nice way to spend money. Thanks for showing us how to spend money wisely.

  5. Helen McHargue

    The mailbox doesn’t look lockable or particularly secure. He probably just get pizza ads and the PennySaver in this box and the big checks are mailed elsewhere. I wonder if billionaires still read the PennySaver (or your local equivalent) for nostalgia’s sake?
    Congratulations on achieving a second printing!

  6. Jeannie

    Congratulations on the 2nd printing! Woo Hoo! Will you still blog when you are a billionaire? I think that your kitty friends would like the estate and imagine all the fun they could have racing around in the roo’s pouches! Thanks for the peek into a world I don’t understand.

  7. Sally

    Hooray, Vivian, for the book sales, and hooray for all the many people who get to go to France with you vicariously.

    That photo of the Japanese bridge in an absolutely perfect composition.

    I’ve been known to tell my painting students that taking a photo is like answering a multiple choice question, whereas painting a picture is like answering an essay question–the photographer has to work with what is presented and choose the best from it, while a painter has totally free choice of content. Your photo is a good case of the BUT in this–BUT, when a PAINTER takes a photograph, the result can be totally stunning.

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