The Johnson Who Keeps Talking About the Money

Today’s a quiet day at the cafe, and I got some time to read the WSJ, and find out about a heir who has made nearly everyone he knows very mad. That would be Jamie Johnson, great grandson of the founder of J&J, who as we like to say in Princeton, where many Johnsons reside, is a part of the ‘bandaid fortune.’ Robert Frank profiled Johnson, calling him ‘the rich man’s Michael Moore.’ His first film was called ‘Born Rich,’ and now he’s got a new one out called ‘The One Percent.’ .

Jamie is a filmmaker, and his favorite topic is wealth in America. That doesn’t sit well with the wealthy, who just plain run when he tries to get them to talk about their money, and what he feels are the inequities in our society. He sent out 100 letters to wealthy people asking them to appear in the film and ‘most said no or failed to reply.’ One subject who did agree to talk was Nicole Buffett, who is the adopted daughter of Peter Buffett, Warren’s son. And she probably regrets this decision.

As soon as the film came out, the Warren dashed off a letter saying that while he was proud of her achievements, ‘I have not legally or emotionally adopted you as a grandchild, nor have the rest of my family adopted you as a niece or cousin.’ Ouch! This after she spent every Christmas with Warren in Omaha from age 4-11.

In the film, Johnson pursues his dad, trying to ask him about his money, and while he does get a few comments, at the end, dad gives up, head in hands, saying ‘I can’t take this any more, it’s too much for me.’

There are some things that people are reluctant to talk about, but nothing comes close to spilling the beans on a family’s money.