Lewis David Zagor the $18,000,000 Man, Another Story of the Stealthy Wealthy
Here is yet another story of the folks I call the “stealthy wealthy”. These are people who amass small fortunes in secret and others only find out after the death of the stealthy wealthy. They often live completely normal lives, living in average size homes, driving ordinary cards, and often continue to work, often at their own business. A significant number of millionaires hide their wealth from their friends and family, just like Ronald Read, Jack Gsantner, and the millionaire recluse twins.
This story is about a man named Lewis David Zagor, the eighteen million dollar man who left behind an apartment filled with expensive goods, and a pile of cash, stocks, and mutual fund holdings. Some of my favorite episodes to record on my podcast are about the stealthy wealthy because they show that even ordinary people can amass small fortunes by getting just a few things right.
Lewis David Zagor, a towering 300-pound-plus Wall Street genius with a doctorate in business administration, made a killing putting his cash in stocks and mutual funds. Zagor was an only child whose father was a real estate investor and stock trader. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, apparently.
Lewis David Zagor was a PC developer for quite a while and lived in a little apartment, and in the long run started investing with his cash full-time.
Tenet: Live beneath your means
One of the most common and most important tenets the stealthy wealthy use to generate their wealth is living beneath their means. It is common for these folks to be living in the same affordable housing for decades, driving older model cars, and avoiding the limelight.
Zagor was definitely leaving well beneath his means. Zagor was he was paying just $1,640.85 a month in rent for an apartment on one of the most well-known streets on the planet, Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Zagor's widow has said that he was an extremely frugal man, with a few exceptions.
According to the widow, Zagor was a hoarder of pricey paperweights, expensive clothes, and silverware. So apparently, the apartment is a mess and needs to be organized and categorized before anyone will know all that Zagor left behind.
Tenet: Dividends are Important to Compounding
Assets worth $18,000,000 are likely to throw off a significant amount in dividends each year, and Zagor's widow has presented monthly checks that Zagor continues to receive, totaling tens of thousands of dollars to the journalist who wrote the original story on Zagor.
If we assume a 3% dividend yield on the eighteen million, Zagor would be receiving $540,000 per year in dividends, at a minimum. Given that his rent was twenty thousand per year, the cash was really piling up.
Tenet: Keep it Secret
According to his widow, Zagor kept most of his documents secret in his home office. It is likely that he was not fully aware of his own wealth, given the disorder of his apartment. “You have no idea the amount of wealth that is in the apartment,” Phillips-Zagor told DNAinfo New York. “The most important are the financial documents.”
On this tenet, Zagor failed utterly and completely. Zagor, who apparently has no living relatives other than his wife, also never made a will, complicating any resolution of his finances and their distribution.
Zagor 's estate is in the hands of Manhattan's Surrogate's Court who Zagor's widow has asked to appoint a public administrator to oversee the administration of Zagor's estate.
Zagor's widow, 68, said she has been locked out of the apartment since May when the building's management company, MSMC Residential Realty, changed the locks on the home because she owed rent. She said after her husband died, MSMC wanted to charge her the market rate for the apartment and she refused.
She said she had already moved into another apartment on Fifth Avenue, but she was still in the process of cleaning out her husband's home, which was packed with debris, tchotchkes and boxes of clothes.
Phillips-Zagor said when the locks were changed, she still hadn't sorted through her husband's home office.
According to the original article, Zagor’s dividend checks are in his name, and therefore his widow cannot cash them. Don’t let this happen to your spouse.
It is important for people with significant wealth to do some estate planning and put a will, and perhaps a trust in place to ensure their loved ones are taken care of and their estate does not become a headache.
Tenet: Marginal utility of money
The saddest lesson from the story is that the widow supposes he passed on in light of the fact that he was too frugal. He was getting free medical care over heart and kidney issues (he was 300 lbs.) and wouldn't pay for better medicinal treatment notwithstanding her pleas.