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‘How I blew 3 million dollars’

2 December 2003

HAMBURG – Germany’s winter gloom has been brightened a bit by the story of a man who went from riches to rags after squandering a tidy inheritance.

Many readers, feeling the pinch in the tight economy, may also be feeling a bit of “schadenfreude” over the story of the Munich man identified only as “Tim M.” But they also have to give him credit: If you are going to blow an inheritance, then Tim M. has set some pretty high standards.

“Altogether, I squandered around DM six million (about EUR three million),” the 35-year-old told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper about how it all happened. “I simply bought anything and everything that I wanted.”

As a 17-year-old and still in school, Tim M.’s wealthy parents died within a year of each other, in 1985 and 1986, leaving him as the sole heir to a luxury villa in Munich, plus gold and jewelry, cash, valuable antique furniture, and stocks and bonds.

Possibly, the sudden wealth back then was too much for the teenager, who quit school before getting a diploma and set out to enjoy a life of material pleasures.

“Why should I finish my diploma?” is what Tim M. said he thought to himself at the time. “I wanted to live it up and spend money.”

There were specially-chartered helicopter excursions on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, shopping sprees in New York City, luxury vacations on Bali, jaunts to San Francisco, Paris and the Dominican Republic. Five-star hotels wherever he stayed, of course.

There were also the luxury designer-label clothes and the mandatory Rolex watch to go with his lifestyle in his Munich villa: “Some days I went out and spent DM30,000.”

Nor was Tim M. selfish. He would buy cars for his friends, take them along on some of his foreign travels.

But after nearly a decade of shop-till-you-drop came the shock: Tim M.’s money began to run out. He first noticed this when some repairs were need on his villa and he realized he hadn’t set aside any funds in reserve for the purpose. He ended up taking out a loan.

Trying to rescue what he had left, he bought into mutual funds and some real estate ventures, totalling some EUR700,000. The stock market collapse after 2000 wiped these out.

Today, as Tim M. awaits the court-ordered auction of his Munich villa to pay off debts of some EUR680,000, he is living in a tiny one-room flat and working in a video rental shop, trying to make ends meet on EUR915 a month.

“A bill for over EUR100 could break me,” he said.

Looking back on his extravagant decade of vacations and cars and luxury shopping, the former millionaire told the Morgenpost: “I thought it was going to go on like that for ever.”


Subject: German news