Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meet the 'Cheapest Man Alive'


He owns a successful investment firm, employs 1,000 people, and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He also brings a homemade lunch to the office every day, had the office carpet repaired with duct tape, pays "only for the meat" and nothing else at holiday parties, and, after company meetings, gathers up paper clips so they can be reused...

...Surely, these strategies are good for the bottom line, if not employee morale. But, in the same way that frugality can turn into compulsive hoarding, Wedbush's tightwad approach is unhealthy at times. How so? Well, the reason the LA Times is covering Wedbush is because of his eyesore of a home in the ritzy Ladera Heights section of Los Angeles. The house is covered with a patchwork assemblage of tarps to cover up a roof that leaks badly. Neighbors say they sometimes see Wedbush himself—who is 78 years old—up on the roof in a bathrobe inspecting the shingles and messing with the tarps. The roof has been covered in tarps for years, and Wedbush obviously hasn't done much to fix that. Why? It doesn't make sense to fix a roof that sits atop a home that's so filled with mold the entire place should probably be knocked down, now does it?

And so Wedbush doesn't do much of anything about the roof—other than standing on the dilapidated, leaky roof in a bathrobe like a crazy person, that is. That's dangerous enough. But while Wedbush's wife refuses to go inside this home (she stays in their other house in Rancho Santa Fe instead), Wedbush still spends several nights a week in his tarp-covered, mold-infested edifice. He explains:

"I've had to live in that place and I've got some potential infections from the mold," Wedbush said. "My wife won't even enter the house. We've suffered."

Then, um, dude, you might want to do something about that. I regard most cheapskates with a mix of awe and admiration, but I hate people who are cheap in the cheap-bastard-screw-your-neighbor sense, and it's beyond silly to put one's health in jeopardy to save money.." More

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