Do you have a motto about money?
Thibault de Barsy: “I like Oscar Wilde's saying that 'those who live within their means have no imagination' [laughs]. I have an epicurean side and I think it's never difficult to find ideas to spend or invest your money.
What was your first salary?
"In 1996, I signed my first contract with Pricewaterhouse Brussels for 67,000FB (a little over €1,500).
What is the first present you gave yourself?
"With my first salary, I mainly paid off the debit I had accumulated on my credit card. At the time, the banks were pushing this type of product very hard on young students.
Do you have any expensive passions?
"Travel is a major expense. But, as a good epicurean, I like to invite large parties to my house and I prepare everything myself. As for clothes, I love to order my socks on the website meschaussettesrouges.com where you can order Gammarelli, the famous official socks of the Vatican. I like to buy some custom-made shirts digitally as well. Apart from that, I also go to ready-to-wear shops, like everyone else.
Your latest splurge?
"An old German sports car. In fact, I'm very sensitive to sales pitches and I always want to reward good salespeople, which sometimes leads to a splurge. Recently I went to an electrical shop to buy a cable to connect the kids' games console to the TV. I came back with a new one, the salesman was too good [laughs].
An unattainable dream?
"Architecture is one of my passions. If I could, I would buy Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house. It's built on a waterfall in a remote part of Pennsylvania. I went to visit it, it's exceptional.
An object you would never want to part with?
"I had a very simple Bulgari watch that my late brother gave me for my 21st birthday. So it was a sentimental object, but I lost it while riding my bike. Otherwise, I'm not a very 'knick-knack' person.
What kind of object would you bid for?
"I've always admired Ronald Reagan. But after his wife died, there was an auction with private items. I had set my sights on a small cocktail set... but I couldn't keep up. At least I tried!
A very expensive expense that you don't regret?
"Big dinners at home. It's expensive and without any materiality in return. But it is important to invest in friendships or in your network.
To become rich, you have to...
"As Margaret Thatcher said, 'pennies do not come from heaven, they have to be earned on earth'. To build wealth, you have to start early and never stop.
Does the price of certain things bother you?
"No. I believe in the economic theory of price formation. In my opinion, the price carries information. As long as a price is subject to the market, it has legitimacy. I am more shocked by arbitrarily imposed prices.
Do you keep a lot of cash on you?
"No, and in my job I try to keep it to a minimum. I have all the necessary payment apps on my smartphone and credit cards on me. Having said that, it's quite amazing that while people want to pay less and less in cash, there's never been so much cash in circulation. So it must be in safes...
If something goes wrong, what could you do without?
"Well, as Frank Lloyd Wright said earlier: 'Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities. I can do without the basics so I can really enjoy myself."
This article was written for the August/September issue of Paperjam magazine published on 15 July 2021.