Sunday, February 13, 2005

Arranged marriages for the wealthy unmarried

The New York Times > Magazine > The New Arranged Marriage

Janis Spindel arranges mergers and acquisitions for wealthy unmarried men:
... Janis Spindel Serious Matchmaking Incorporated's fees begin -- begin! -- at $20,000 for an initiation fee, plus $1,000 for a one-year membership that includes 12 dates.... An out-of-town client must fly Janis and an assistant first class and put them up in a hotel for the home visit. Additionally, a marriage bonus is expected -- sometimes it's a car or extravagant jewelry; other times it's cash. She has received gifts in the $75,000-to-$250,000 range.

Gorgeous [the prospect] tries to negotiate the price, but Janis flatly refuses. Then he says he's uncomfortable with the general idea of paying for dates and wonders what kind of women would date a man who needs to pay to find her. He doesn't want to be set up with ''shrews'' or women who are interested in him because he owns a successful business.

This strikes me as an extremely realistic concern. How else to describe the women who, Janis says, pay $750 for a 30-minute meeting to audition for her databank of women (6,800 of them, Janis claims) who want to marry a man rich enough to pay for her services?
As a young man I traveled the world as a Watson Fellow. I spent about 8 months in Bangkok in 1981; I've not been back since, but I'm told it's a different city now. In those days mergers and acquisitions were a common arrangement for visiting executives, executed with a mercenary understanding of power, advantage, and mutual benefit. To paraphrase Churchill, only the price has changed.

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