Remember this face, save me a place in thug's mansion! BSD Lessons!

so I feel like we need to compile great lessons from the richest people in history respective to their time period (billionaires of their respective times, think Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Kylie Jenner). I figure we all could learn a bit from the biggest bsds on how they got rich. So lets share!

Anyways, i recently learned about John Jacob Astor (born 1763), quick bio, immigrant of German descent that initially worked as a butcher. He started a business selling instruments but found no demand in rugged america so he quickly switched to the profitable fur trade (a declining business) then diversified to tea, silk, and dealing opium in china. He grew the majority of his net worth through real estate, particularly land in New York. He leased his purchased land for others to develop and constantly raised rents until they couldn’t afford it, then he foreclosed and bought the buildings out. By doing this he maximized the productivity of each establishment. Only the best survive. He was Americas’ first millionaire. He died in 1848 with $20m estimated at $138b for 2018.


[On an early time of his life asking his older brother Henry Astor for a loan when he was much better off than him operating and owning a butcher stall. It was a source of annoyance to his brother Henry especially when John Jacob wanted to borrow $200 very badly. ‘John, I will give you $100, if you will agree never to ask me to loan you any money, indorse a note, or sign a bond for you, or be obligated for you in any manner whatever’ – Henry Astor] I hesitated for a moment, rapidly passed the proposition through my mind, saw its advantages, for $100 was $100 in those days. Accepted the proposition and never asked a favor of that character of my brother in after years.

[One of Mr Astor’s earliest business advertisements that appeared on the 22nd of May 1786 in the ‘New York Packet’.] Jacob Astor, No. 81 Queen St, two doors from the Friends’ Meeting House, has just imported from London an elegant assortment of musical instruments, such as Piano Fortes, spinets, guitars; the best of violins, German Flutes, clarinets, hautboys, fifes; the best Roman Violin strings and all other kinds of strings; music books and paper, and every other article in the musical line, which he will dispose of on very low terms for cash.

[An advertisement on the 10th of January 1789.] John Jacob Astor, At No. 81 Queen Street, Next door but one to the Friends’ Meeting House, Has for sale an assortment of Piano Fortes of the Newest Construction, made by the best makers in London, which he will sell at reasonable terms. He gives cash for all kinds of Furs and has for sale a quantity of Canada Beavers and Beavering coating, Raccoon Skins, and Raccoon Blankets, Muskrat Skins, etc., etc.

[On making his first purchase of real estate of two lots on Bowery Lane in 1789 at the age of 26 paying cash for it.] Two hundred and fifty pounds (about six hundred and twenty-five dollars) current money of the State of New York.

The only hard step in building up my fortune was the first thousand dollars. After that it was easy.

[On selling a lot in the vicinity of Wall Street in 1810 for $8,000.00 that he had purchased in 1802. The purchaser, after the papers were signed seemed to chuckle over his bargain. ‘Why Mr Astor, in a few years this lot will be worth twelve thousand dollars.’] Very true, but now you shall see what I will do with this money. With eight thousand dollars I buy eighty lots above Canal Street. By the time your lot is worth twelve thousand dollars, my eighty lots will be worth eighty thousand dollars. [This later proved to be the fact.]

The first hundred thousand dollars – that was hard to get; but afterward it was easy to make more. Wealth is a result of habit. An ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory.

[In 1814 on being asked by Secretary of treasury Gallatin that he join with Stephen Girard (The only person reputed to be richer than him) and loan the government $10 million. This loan became the first bond syndicate in American history. Mr Astor bought $2 million worth of government paper at a rate of $88 for a $100 certificate yielding 6 percent. On the 15th of August 1814 Mr Astor wrote to Girard in Philadelphia to suggest they each come up with $4 or $5 million more and he hinted at movements towards peace.] We have just now a prize Schooner arrived with English accounts of 8 July they state that G. Britain had appointed and send 5 commissioners to meet our and that the General believes was peace if you do like to loan to government 4 or 5 million dollars and will loan it to me I will give you stocks at a low rate and my note with good name to make it perfectly safe to you. I want it not for myself but I wish to help the treasury at this particular moment. [On Parisian banks only willing to pay 2.5 percent interest on the 2 million francs he had on deposit.] It would make any man’s blood boil.

A man who makes a million dollars is just as well off as if he were rich. John Jacob Astor

[On the 17th of March 1827 to Albert Gallatin at the age of 63.] At the moment, when there is not in all this city any mercantile house which may be considered as of very high and first rate standing here and in Europe, I am more than ever sorry not to be 10 or 15 years younger. With my capital and your friends and [good] name we could get all the good business of Europe. Such an establishment would be the height of my ambition and a great fortune could be [gained] but, as it is, I feel as if I were too old and require too much time for the preservation of my health to attend much to business and I feel, also, as if I had fortune enough.

[On foreseeing the changing market not long before deciding to retire from the American Fur Company in 1833 and in 1834 selling out.] I very much fear beaver will not sell very soon unless very fine. It appears that they make hats of silk in place of beaver.

He added immensely to his riches by purchases of state stocks, bonds, and mortgages in the financial crisis of 1836-37. He was a willing purchaser of mortgages from needy holders at less than their face [value]; and when they become due, he foreclosed on them, and purchased the mortgaged property at the ruinous prices which ranged at the time.

[On the 4th of May 1834 at the age of 71.] Could I begin life again, knowing what I now know, and had money to invest, I would buy every foot of land on the Island of Manhattan.

[Sometime in early the 1840’s.] This old gentleman, with his $15 million, would give it all to have my strength and physical ability… His mind is good, his observations acute, and he seems to know everything that is going on. But the machinery is all broken up, and there are some people, no doubt, who think he has lived long enough.

[On being asked by one of his granddaughters (probably Sarah Langdon) after she had been scolded by her grandmother ‘Grandfather, why did you marry Grandmother, anyway?’] Because she was so pretty, my dear.

[On his wife Mrs Astor (Sarah Cox Todd) whom he was married to for 57 years passing away just six years before he did.] She was the best business partner any man ever had.

fund fact he neighborhood of Astoria is named as such because the area was renamed to incentivize him to invest in the neighborhood