With rents and housing prices soaring ever higher across Los Angeles County, how do local millionaires afford to live here? The Avocado set out to find out by talking to Angelinos with absurd income levels about how they make life in L.A. work for them.
Johnathan Schwartzbaum, 31.
Job: Johnathan (or “Jono”) doesn’t have a “job” per se, but he does hold an advisory position for his family’s real estate development firm that allows him to draw a modest annual salary and holds some profit-making passive interests in a few businesses that his financial adviser Gerald suggested. He is also the “CFO” and seeking funding for an app called “Ball Harder” that allows people to purchase courtside tickets.
Salary: $4,200,000 ($252,000 salary from his family’s business, around $180,000 yearly from investments, and $3,750,000 from a trust account started by his grandfather Ezekial Schwartzbaum).
What brought you to L.A. I was raised here. My grandfather Ezekial came to Los Angeles in the 1940’s from Syracuse and began buying property with a small business loan of $10 million dollars from his father around Sunset and Laurel Canyon and by the La Brea tar pits. It was a pretty modest operation, only netting a few million dollars a year until the 1980’s when they helped a few mid-size drug trafficking rings embezzle their profits through some of our properties.
What makes you want to stay? L.A. is an exciting place, but it can also sometimes be sort of a drag. I usually spend the summers here, but prefer N.Y. or Paris in the spring. I love Miami during the winter. Except when I go skiing. Then it’s Breckenridge.
Which neighborhood do you live in? Do you rent or own? In LA only? I guess I live primarily in Santa Monica. I also have a small 2-bedroom apartment downtown, but I am hardly there. My parents have a, I guess you would call it a “compound,” on the water in Malibu, which I sometimes stay at. I also technically own an apartment complex in Silverlake and a few in the ghetto part of the Valley, but those are only investment properties and I try not to go to those neighborhoods too often.
What are you saving for right now? Right now my brother and I are part-owners of a Gulfstream. I’d like to eventually have my own since we sometimes run into scheduling conflicts and one of us is forced to charter, which, you know, defeats the purpose of owning your own Gulfstream in the first place and looks bad.
When you’re not working, what takes up most of your time? Normal stuff, you know. Collecting expensive wines, taking between 10 and 15 beautiful women and no men out on one of my boats. I’m also doing an improv class at UCB.
What is the biggest financial stress in your life? Just not overspending. You wouldn’t believe how many times my adviser Gerald calls me to question me about what I’m doing with my money. I recently bought, and then accidentally lost, a Patek Philippe and you would have thought that I ran over another child by his reaction. In retrospect, I get that I should have been more responsible, but some poor person probably found the watch and can, I don’t know, afford to feed their kids or something. I told him to treat it as a charitable tax-write off.
Do you think you make enough money? No. I mean, I’m comfortable, I guess. But there are so many things I still don’t own yet.
Is Los Angeles an expensive place to live? No, I mean, there are more expensive cities. I probably wouldn’t even be able to get a second or third apartment if I were in Monaco.
You just got paid, and you’re hitting the town for the night. What’s your first stop? I’d probably call up Selena and Jennifer and head to Burbank Airport to fly out to party at our place in London, if my fucking brother isn’t hogging the jet.
What’s something you hate spending money on? Legal fees. I was just forced to settle a lawsuit over my app “Ball Harder” with the comedian Bill Hader, who claimed people were getting confused. It was bullshit.
What’s something you wish you had more money to spend on? I guess it would be cool to own an island.
What’s something you consistently spend money on even though you know you shouldn’t? Healthcare coverage for the crew taking care of my boat.