How Does a Four-Year-Old Spend $46,000 a Month?

The Wall Street Journal

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Reuters
Model Linda Evangelista at an amfAR event in Milan in 2009

Supermodel Linda Evangelista is asking French billionaire Francois Henri-Pinault for $46,000 a month in child support. He's the father of Ms. Evangelista's four-year-old son, Augustin James. And Ms. Evangelista argues that $46,000 is the minimum required to provide for young Augustin in the manner to which he has grown accustomed.

Readers outside New York are probably thinking: "What's this kid eating ?!"

Readers in New York are thinking: "She should ask for more."

To find out how a four-year-old could possibly burn through $46,000 a month in Manhattan, I called Natasha Pearl, president of Aston-Pearl, the New York-based lifestyle-management firm for wealthy families.

[See How Rich Are You?]

Here's the breakdown:

Childcare

Forget the nanny. Kids like Augustin need a round-the-clock child-care team, what the wealthy call "full, 24/7 coverage." Ms. Pearl says that requires three nannies, with two rotating on full schedule and another as a backup. "And that third nanny preferably has some specialty skill, like teaching the kid Mandarin," Ms. Pearl said. "And if he's a boy, the third staffer might be a manny to run him around the park and throw him baseballs."

Total cost: About $23,000 a month or more — half the total.

School

Augustin is still in preschool, which means that rather than paying the $36,000 to $40,000 a year for private school, Ms. Evangelista only has to pay about $20,000 to $30,000 for a top preschool. That means his school bill — at least for now — is a mere $2,500 a month.

Clothing

You can't be the son of Linda Evangelista and the world's luxury king and wear Osh-Kosh. To sheath Augustin in Chloe, Berlingot and Jacadi (does Gucci have a kids' line?) you're looking at $3,000 a month minimum.

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Extracurriculars

Fencing, chess, French lessons, soccer and all the other add-ons that are required for any successful Manhattan four-year-old will easily run another $2,000 to $5,000 a month.

Drivers

"He probably needs his own driver since they can't split one," Ms. Pearl said. "If he needs to be at school at 8 a.m. and she needs to be out 'til 2 a.m., they have to have two." So add another another $6,000 to $8,000 a month.

So we're already at more than $41,000 and we haven't even gotten to his daily sushi intake, the expense account at F.A.O. Schwartz and the kiddie birthday parties at Top of the Rock.

[See When Will a Woman Be the Richest Person in the World?]

"At first glance, $46,000 seems like an extraordinary amount and it is," Ms. Pearl said. "But for a fortunate child in New York, it is actually absolutely conceivable that his expenses could approach $50,000 a month."

Message to Mr. Pinault: you're getting a bargain.

What other expenses do you think a fortunate son in New York might incur?

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