Fleeing Cairo—Cash & Carry

Egyptian demonstrators hold up placards during a protest in central Cairo to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms.
Mohammed Abed | APF | Getty Images
Egyptian demonstrators hold up placards during a protest in central Cairo to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms.

Nineteen private jets carrying Egyptian businessmen and their families departed from Cairo yesterday, according to news reports.

Which got me thinking: What would a rich businessman—fleeing a corrupt nation as an autocratic regime fell—want to take on his private plane with him?

Well, let's see. He'd want to take his iPod, family pictures, his dog Fluffy—and all the filthy money he could get his hands on.

And so the question arises: What exactly are the mechanics of expatriating a huge amount of wealth from one's native land before beginning a new life abroad?

Perhaps we should begin our analysis with his ticket out: The private jet itself.

No self-respecting rich guy should flee his former country in an old Lear Jet from the nineteen-seventies. (A plane like that probably still has a Captain & Tennille tape in the 8-track deck.) A really rich guy deserves to skip town in style.

And 'style' in the private jet world means Gulfstream. After a really large heist, one needs to go top of the line: And top of the line for Gulfstream means the gorgeous G-650 model.

So let's do what we love best at NetNet and run the numbers.

A quality ride like the G-650 will set you back some—somewhere north of the $60 million mark, depending on the configuration—but an escape like that is well worth the cost of admission. You're not just flying around the corner, after all.

Let's be honest: You need to get pretty far away from the impoverished masses that you're abandoning.

Fortunately for you the G-650 has some very impressive specs. For example, the plane has a maximum range of 7,000 nautical miles. That means all the European tax havens are easily within your reach from North Africa. Heck, if extradition is an issue, you can even fly non-stop from Cairo to Buenos Aires.

Also, it's fast.

I mean, like, really fast: As in Mach .9.

In miles per hour, Mach .9 translates to a hair frying 700 mph.

So you jump in your G-650. You have the pilot take that bad daddy up to a cruising altitude of 51,000 feet, put the pedal down till you hit seven hundred—and you ain't stopping for traffic lights. It's Geneva or bust, baby.

The G-650 has a maximum payload of 6,500 pounds—but with all the fuel you're going to need to take off with for your getaway, your max takeoff weight is only around 1,800 pounds.

But a guy who is bailing out of a sinking ship in a private jet may not be thinking of weight in terms of pounds: He may be thinking about troy ounces—because that's the unit gold is measured in.

1,800 pounds , it turns out, is exactly 26,250 troy ounces. Gold is trading around $1,300 to the troy ounce. Which means you can load about $13,000,000 in gold onto the G-650.

But what if that isn't enough?

Well, if you’re planning to leave town with lots of portable property today is your lucky day. Or, I should say, it's your lucky year. The time is right to flee the country until 2013.

Why, 2013 you ask?

Simply put: Bearer bonds. Although the U.S. outlawed the issuance of new bearer bonds back in 1982, those things hang around for quite a while. In fact, according to an article in the New York Times, bearer bonds are going to be around in force until around 2013 —when the thirty year standard maturity comes due. (That's good news for the fleeing plutocrat—because redeeming a few hundred million dollars in bearer bonds might look a little sketchy after that.)

And there are always diamonds.

According to Wikipedia:

"A high quality diamond weighing as little as 2 or 3 grams could be worth as much as 100 kilos of gold. This extremely condensed value and portability does bestow diamonds as a form of emergency funding. People and populations displaced by war or extreme upheaval have utilised this portable asset successfully"

Sure diamonds are less liquid and fungible than gold.

But in a moment of panic you can't wash down $10 million of gold with an airplane sized bottle of Dewar's scotch.


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