HNN–Back in 2015, Johann Rupert, the South-African multi-billionaire owner of luxury jewelry company Cartier revealed his greatest fear: robots replacing workers and the poor rising up to bring down the rich.1 Yes, you read that correctly.
He explained to a group of incredibly wealthy people at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco that he was sure a social uprising was on the way and it was making it hard for him to sleep. You can actually watch his entire speech below. (Start around the 10:20 or 21:18 marks, if you just want to hear about this topic.)
He explained that after reading about changes in labor technology, as well as figures then showing the top 1 percent of the global population owned more wealth than the other 99 percent, that when the poor rose up, the middle classes wouldn’t want to buy luxury goods “for fear of exposing their wealth.”1
“How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare? 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.”
Bloomberg has estimated that Rupert has amassed a fortune of around $7.5 billion from brands that include Cartier, Chloe and Vacheron Constantin.
He’s also made himself a target in his home country of Africa where people like Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, see him as big part of the ongoing problem for the 99 percent.