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Rich prank turns ugly

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Posted: 6 pm ET

When the rich give back to society in the form of charity, lots of good things happen. Infusions of money augment social services, provide a boost to cultural arts programs, and give an immeasurable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to the benefactors who want to complete a cycle of wealth.

Pavel Durov

So what to make of a Russian multimillionaire's recent prank? Pavel Durov, CEO of a social networking site, amused himself by tossing paper airplanes made of $5,000-ruble notes (approximately $160) out the window of his office in St. Petersburg to the pedestrians below.

What ensued was not pretty but probably predictable. Some in the crowd scrambling for the bills turned violent, and Durov wrote on his Twitter account that he had to stop because "people turned into animals." He added that "definitely, more such actions are to follow."

Durov's net worth is estimated at $260 million. Before he pulled back from his paper-airplane stunt, he had tossed the equivalent of about $2,000 out the window.

With his level of wealth, you'd think Durov could come up with a better way to gain personal fulfillment than by tossing what equates to a few coins into a crowd just to watch the reaction.

What do you think of Durov's prank?

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June 04, 2012 at 11:35 am

I think this prank proves he is egotistical.

June 04, 2012 at 3:36 am

When the giving is done only to avoid taxes it is not genuinely charitable at all, and can do more harm than good. The classic example now is a wealthy individual tax-sheltering money in a charitable trust, appointing friends and family to adminstrate the trust and enrich themselves with its funds while occasionally engaging in self-serving donations to the causes of key allies. The money is taken away from the government tax revenue, where it would have been used to promote those social services and culture to which you refer.

I seem to recall reading stories of the same sort of prank being played out in the US many times in the past. I forget which classic work of American literature I read as a child included an account of men amusing themselves by actually inciting children to fight each other for a few coins. It is perhaps a chilling reminder of how extreme our wealth disparity remains.