Richest man in world brags about wealth
A hedge-fund guy has been caught on video bragging in the back of a taxicab that he's the "highest-earning person in the world in finance" - and some industry insiders say he may be right.
Michael Platt, the British-born founder of BlueCrest Capital, appears to be glowing with satisfaction as he settles into the back of a New York yellow cab in the bizarre video, which has been circulating on Wall Street in recent weeks.
"I must admit it's an honour to be in the back of your taxi being driven home in, like, perfect conditions - and meeting you, too," Platt gushes, waving to the camera.
"And my girlfriend, Laetitia, the love of my life, is right here," Platt adds, gesturing to the beautiful brunette next to him.
The 51-year-old financial whiz, looking relaxed in a jacket and white dress shirt with the collar unbuttoned, then quickly launches into an over-the-top speech about his success that even appears to throw his interviewer.
"The thing that's different about me is … I'm the highest-earning person in the world of finance," Platt deadpans.
"You're the highest what?" responds New York cabbie Manny Anzalota who, dubbing himself "Mr Ferrari," likes to post impromptu photos and interviews of passengers like Sean Lennon and Ralph Fiennes on social media.
"The highest-earning person in the world in finance," Platt repeats. "In the world.
"I've transformed my fund into a personal investment vehicle because we made such high returns," Platt continues, pausing and turning to smile at his companion. "And now, it's on the internet, on Forbes."
Inviting the cabbie to Google him, Platt likewise drops that he appeared in the first episode of the third season of HBO's Billions, playing himself at a posh dinner alongside hedge-fund tycoons Marc Lasry and Michael Adam Karsch.
Asked by the New York Post whether he actually is the highest-earning person in finance, Platt responded in an email that: "The video was a total spoof! Just a bit of fun with a lovely guy who Tom Hanks christened Mr Ferrari! I literally just made it all up on the spot!"
Asked about the knockout sitting next to him in the cab, the divorced Platt said, "Laetitia is a friend … and not my girlfriend …. just a very good person who I had been to dinner with and shared a nice bottle of wine.
"I'm sure I'm not the only person in New York with a sense of humour after a fun night out!
Nevertheless, some Wall Streeters are taking his back seat monologue seriously.
"That video is ridiculous, but he might be right," said one New York-based hedge fund manager. "The only guy who might be close is (Jim) Simons," the hedgie said, referring to the secretive founder of quant hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
Indeed, Platt did nab the top spot of Forbes' "Highest earning hedge fund managers" list in 2017 by pocketing an estimated $2 billion. Last year, he earned $1.2 billion, finishing second behind Simons, who earned $1.6 billion. But some speculate Platt could be back on top for 2019.
Forbes currently estimates Platt's net worth at $8 billion.
The former JPMorgan trader, who dodged the 2008 financial crisis after launching BlueCrest in 2000, has become unstoppable since he returned money to investors in 2015, citing falling fees.
Multiple sources close to BlueCrest say Platt has since more than doubled the value of his firm. While most hedge funds were losing money and investors, BlueCrest earned close to 50 per cent in both 2016 and 2017 before returning close to 25 per cent last year, the sources said.
Platt reportedly employs a bold strategy that relies on borrowing money to make big bets. That's usually a red flag, but since Platt has no investors he's not putting anyone else's cash at risk.
Despite being a resident of Geneva, Switzerland, Platt runs much of BlueCrest's operation from New York and London. When in town, Platt appears to hole up at his 260sq m Central Park South penthouse that he bought for $11.4 million in 2013.
That's where Platt and his friend were dropped off after getting picked up "somewhere downtown," Anzalato confirmed in a Wednesday interview with the Post.
"I'll tell you what, that guy gave me the biggest tip of my life," Anzalato said. "I even said to him, 'That's a lot of money!'"
"Once you Google me, you're not gonna think that," Platt replied, according to the cabbie.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.