Home' A Plus Magazine : August 2013 Contents 64 August 2013
These days, there are many dan-
gerous and death-defying things
young graduates can do to fill their
time, from wing walking on budget airlines
to selling jokey Kim Jong-un T-shirts in
North Korea. But mounting evidence shows
that the most nail-bitingly dramatic thing of
all is to be an accountant to the stars – par-
ticularly the rock star subcategory.
Get that job and you can hobnob with ce-
lebrities, jet around the world and collect big
fees at regular intervals – to start with. Then
your meal ticket will almost inevitably go
bust and you’ll end up with all the blame, all
the drug-fuelled tantrums, and often a few
choice lawsuits as well.
Case in point: when singer Elton John
found out in 1990 that he had spent most
of his money, he arranged for his accoun-
tants to be flown out to the United States to
discuss it. When they got there, he was in a
bad mood and refused to see them. They
had dinner at their expensive hotel and flew
back to the United Kingdom.
The acrimonious dispute duly ended up
in court and a judge noticed in the accounts
that the singer had spent US$500,000 at a
florist. The rock star defended his spending
habits by saying: “I like flowers.” The hor-
rified judge found him to have committed
gross ditziness, and the accountants ended
up smelling like roses.
At the time of writing, a U.S. singer
named Lauryn Hill had just gone to jail for
failing to pay taxes. She didn’t sue her ac-
countants, but badmouthed them and the
whole financial system before a U.S. magis-
trate judge. She started by describing herself
as a child of slaves, which probably came
as a surprise to her fans, since that would
make her at least 160 years old. (It must have
been an even bigger surprise for her father,
a computer programmer, and her mother, a
Hill, who sold 50 million albums, then
said that wicked financial people had turned
her into a slave herself. “I sit here before you
trying to figure out how to pay a tax debt,”
she said. “If that’s not like enough to slavery,
I don’t know what is.”
I had always thought slaves spent their
time lifting bales and toting barges rather
than sitting around working out the tax li-
abilities on their multimillion dollar income,
but what do I know?
Any way, both those cases must have been
pretty stressful for the accountants involved.
So should ner vous CPAs avoid signing up
with rock stars?
Not necessarily. If you can deal with a
little unpredictability, it can be an easy job.
For example, rap star MC Hammer earned
US$49 million in his late 1980s heyday, ac-
cording to an estimate by Forbes magazine.
But by the mid-1990s, it had all mysteriously
disappeared. Where could it be?
A highly skilled team of accountants were
dispatched to find it. When they arrived at
his house, it all became obvious. His five-
hectare estate had a stereo so large that it
needed 35 kilometres of wiring. His house
had US$75,000 worth of mirrors. Outside
were 17 luxury cars, t wo helicopters and a
stable of racehorses. Missing cash duly lo-
cated. Job done. Here’s the bill.
A friend on the peripheries of the music
industry in Hong Kong reckoned there may
be other advantages to working with celebri-
ties, particularly for male accountants “look-
ing to enhance their social lives.” He told me
to imagine being at a party with two CPAs.
One says: “I’m an accountant,” while anoth-
er says, “I tour with the Backstreet Boys, who
refer to me as Mr. Moneybags.”
“ Who would the babes choose?” he asked.
I thought for a moment. Young women in
Hong Kong tend to have a practical turn of
mind. “ They’d probably choose the accoun-
tant,” I told him. Sad, but true.
Nury Vittachi is a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer and
TV host. He wrote three storybooks for the Institute, May
Moon and the Secrets of the CPAs, May Moon Rescues the
World Economy and May Moon’s Book of Choices.
Get your daily dose of Nury’s humour at www.mrjam.org
Let’s get fiscal
to the stars
Dealing with unpredictable
tantrums could be fun,
says Nury Vittachi
“You’ll end up with
all the blame, all
often a few choice
lawsuits as well.”
Links Archive July 2013 September 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page