The multi-billionaire owner of luxury jewellery company Cartier has revealed his greatest fear – robots replacing workers and the poor rising up to bring down the rich.
Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco (obviously), the fashion tycoon told his fellow elite that he can’t sleep at the thought of the social upheaval he thinks is imminent.
According to Bloomberg, Johann Rupert told the conference to bear in mind that when the poor rise up, the middle classes won’t want to buy luxury goods for fear of exposing their wealth.
He said he had been reading about changes in labour technology, as well as recent Oxfam figures suggesting the top 1 per cent of the global population now owns more wealth than the other 99 per cent.
“How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare?” he said. “We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.”
South African Rupert was estimated by Bloomberg to have amassed a fortune of around $7.5 billion from brands including Cartier, Chloe and Vacheron Constantin.
He returned to his chairman role at Compagnie Financiere Richemont in September 2014 after a one-year sabbatical which, according to Forbes, he spent reading and fly-fishing. And, it seems, contemplating a global social revolution.
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