What It’s Like to Have a Billionaire Brother

‘Are the rich really different from the rest of us?’ I ask myself while wrestling with my billionaire younger brother at 3 a.m.

Eric Spitznagel
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readOct 6, 2019

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Photos courtesy of the author.

For most of the last decade, my brother Mark and his family lived in a house with a moat.

The house — a four-bedroom French villa in Bel Air previously owned by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony — is pretty impressive even without the moat, but that unnecessary protective trench gives the house a certain surreal charm. It’s nice to know that when you visit your family for the holidays, you don’t have to worry about Spanish conquistadors.

When I tell people about my brother’s moat house, they usually ask, “Is he rich or something?” When I admit that he is, their next question is, “So you guys probably don’t get along anymore, right?”

It’s a weird thing to assume, especially the “anymore” part. It’s as if the moment my brother’s bank account added a few extra zeros (okay, a lot of extra zeros), he morphed into Monty Burns from The Simpsons.

I can’t blame them. For most of my life, everything I believed about very rich people I learned from F. Scott Fitzgerald. “They are different from you and me,” he wrote in the 1925 short story “The Rich Boy.”

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Eric Spitznagel
Human Parts

I’m a writer and editor, and the author of a dozen or so books, including "Old Records Never Die: One Man's Quest for His Vinyl and His Past."