Fortunate Sons

"It Boy" Fabian Basabe talks about what life is like for the young and rich.


Aug. 24, 2007 — -- Some people call Fabian Basabe the male Paris Hilton. He's is one of New York's "it" boys of the moment, partying late at night and finding little use for a day job.

But the freedom his family's alleged wealth has afforded him has led to some reckless behavior, getting kicked out of college, wrecking cars and showing the dangers of having too much at a young age.

"He became an 'it boy'," said society columnist Couri Hay. "He's attractive, he has a lot of energy he can be a little naughty."

"I went through a series of wrecked cars, and the next day just got a new one, and I just said, well, 'because I can'," Basabe said.

He thinks he crashed two BMW's in one weekend, and is not even clear on how many boarding schools kicked him out. "I don't know, maybe seven? Six, seven, nine?," he said.

He was also kicked out of college, says Fabian. "I brought my dogs to class, I sometimes didn't go to class," he said.

Basabe is no longer crashing cars or trying to stay in school, and says that he's focusing his energies on his family, philanthropy, and pursuing a career as a TV personality. But he also seems to be focusing a lot of his energies on partying. "Premium liquor and champagne flowing, and … caviar bars, and you know, all the stuff that you see in movies, and it's great," Basabe said.

Basabe says his father is a rich business man who gives him a generous allowance, but would not say specifically how much he's given. Basabe is also married to an heiress of the La Perla fortune.

He doesn't need the income, but Basabe did try the 9 to 5 routine.

About five years ago he took a job on Wall Street and said it was "great."

"I met people, I saw an office, you know, the cubicles, and you know, lunch at your desk, and I saw a lot of that," Basabe said.

But ultimately he said the working life, "just wasn't interesting enough for me."

"And it's a tough life. I mean, they work until one in the morning," he said.

Basabe quit investment and hasn't had steady employment since. He has written some magazine articles, appeared in some television shows and he says he is pursuing a television career and charity work.

"A lot of people that will say, 'get a job.' And it's like, I can get a job tomorrow. But I'm really enjoying my life right now," he said. "I'm going to live forever, by the way, so I'm going to have a lot of time to work and get involved."

When asked if he's just a spoiled rich kid, he said he doesn't think he lives a "shallow life."

"I'm very involved in all the people that I know," Basabe said. "I know them, I know their families, I've met their parentsI think that we're very involved, not only in our personal lives, but in business lives. I have a lot of friends that are creating fashion lines, and working in publishingwe'll support them, and we'll be excited for them, and I don't think I live a shallow life at all."

In some cases losing your parents money can be a positive influence.

Toby Marriott is the son of a British rock star, and admits for some time he was living a shallow life.

His father, Steve Marriott of the 1960s group The Small Faces, died in 1991, and Marriott says he began receiving about $1,000 month from his trust. "I was like a kid in a candy store," he said.

The influx of cash left him unmotivated for his own career, and he spent the money on cocaine and alcohol.

"Do I need to go and, and really put 110 percent in what I want to do career-wise? I said not really 'cause I'm getting money anyhow," Marriott said.

Eventually, he was cut off from his father's estate. And now he says, he's glad because it gave him purpose. He took jobs building and sweeping chimneys, did landscaping and now has his own band The Strays and it's making money.

"You know … they'll feel a lot better about themselves if they make it, rather than just, have it given to them," said Ted Turner.

The billionaire believes it's important to instill a sense of purpose in kids, and he made his children go to work. "And they liked, it," Turner said. "Work was fun."

Taking it a step further, some rich parents don't want to even expose their kids to a lavish lifestyle.

"The idea that we could grow up as "spoiled, you know, punk rich kids" would have been a nightmare for both my parents," said Ben Goldhirsh.

His father earned his wealth founding magazines like "Inc." and "Sail", and was careful to teach Ben to think about the value of money. He even gave $20 million to his employees, and made his son listen to the grateful voicemails.

"He wanted me to appreciate the joy it gave him," Goldhirsh said.

By the time he was 23, both of his parents had died. Goldhirsh's father worried that passing an his fortune to his children might rob them of the satisfaction of earning money themselves.

But Goldhirsh did inherit the money. He used the inheritance to start his own magazine, "Good," and donates subscription fees to charity. His father taught him that work, and charity -- not money -- is the route to happiness.

"Happiness is all about like, "How am I going to be creative? How am I going to be productive?," he said. "I want to do the most with this."

"It boy" Basabe said he thinks his father believes he is doing the most with his life and his money, by sharing it with his son.

"I mean, who is he going to give it to?," Basabe said.

He said his father does give a fair amount to charity (like a nature preserve in the Galapagos Islands), but when asked if his father would give all his money away to charity, Basabe said, "You never know. Not likely."

This report originally aired on December 1st, 2007.

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