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Yesterday's Wall Streeter Is Today's Entrepreneur

Bankers go from Wall Street to selling ultraluxury
Jay Dweck’s violin-shaped pool in Bedford Corners, N.Y.
Jay Dweck’s violin-shaped pool in Bedford Corners, N.Y.Courtesy Cipriano Custom Pools & Landscaping

Jay Dweck, a former Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley executive, lives in a $4.8 million home in Bedford Corners, an hour’s drive north of New York City, with a violin-shaped pool inspired by a Stradivarius he once owned. The master bathroom has a television near the whirlpool tub, and one will go across from the sink. Another will be installed across from the bidet and toilet, and a fourth will be in the shower, whose water is filtered by reverse osmosis. Each TV will be wired to turn on automatically when someone is nearby. This isn’t just self-indulgence for Dweck; it’s a business plan: In May he set up a company called Live Better Systems to sell similar installations to fellow 1 Percenters. “I always have visions and dreams of things you can do, and this is a realization of something,” says Dweck. “The idea is to improve quality of life using technology.”

At a time when Thomas Piketty’s book on rising inequality has sold out on, some bankers have left Wall Street and are opening businesses that aim to profit by making the good life even better. The potential market for their products is growing fast. The number of people worldwide worth $100 million or more has jumped 62 percent since 2003, to 37,104, according to a March study by property broker Knight Frank. The wealth chronicled in Piketty’s bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, creates business opportunities, says Sally Wilkinson, a former UBS economist. With her husband, Serge Marquie, who left his job at Goldman Sachs last year, Wilkinson is selling rights to buy Napa Valley wines before they’re bottled. “There’s incredible inequality, but there’s also incredible demand at the high end of the market,” she says. “That’s just a reality of the world we live in.”