Written by By Fraser Hamilton, CNN
LONDON – Spending time among the wealthy American expat community in London, it’s not hard to spot the similarities.
The two countries have very different histories, with the United States emerging from the shadow of Europe in the 18th century. Nowadays, London, the center of what’s known as the global supercarpenters’ community, is attracting some of the world’s most famous business and cultural figures.
A visit to the Wimbledon-born Earl’s Court Estate — an affluent section of southwest London — reveals one group of Americans that’s always there: the wealthy and wealthy-ish expats from the United States who are so comfortable being close to the action that they have taken up residence in the British capital.
It was during a trip to Paris in 2007 when the millionaire financier Marshall Siegel came across a “for rent” sign in a London terrace estate listed at three-quarters of an acre, set in 15-acres of meadow and woodland.
“There was just so much there that I thought, ‘this is the place I have to live,'” says Siegel, who is reported to have millions of dollars of property holdings, though he denies it.
“I don’t think we are quite in America; we’re in something similar in a sense that we have an interest in the very, very rich,” says Siegel.
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“We are interested in the aristocratic structures and how the wealthy actually live, how they are adapted to wealth and change when the riches pass, which is the rest of their lives. And of course that will be long overdue, we are very optimistic about that.”
Siegel eventually set up the Marshall Siegel Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting the causes of non-conformists, transnationals and “marginalized segments of the population.”
Cashing in on UK’s edifice of wealth
At a time when it seems many middle-class Westerners are distancing themselves from the very wealthy and starting to look to places like the Caribbean for a less ostentatious way of life, a growing number of European entrepreneurs and artists are making the same move.
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Richard Robbins set up his own hedge fund to cater to the growing market of wealthy expats. His first job was sending the smell of the firm’s offices all over the City (part of the City of London is now internationally acclaimed as the financial capital of the world).
“From day one I had a huge, high voice and a very, very loud introduction. I went and had some coffee. ‘Hello, it’s Richard and I’m like a £1 million. For you this coffee is like £200 million. And you have to remember it’s not usually on the market. Could you come to my office and can you take some money with you.’ It was all very Graham Greene kind of. It was a very, very young, intense introduction.”
Edward Petrie follows a very similar path. He, too, set up one of the first cross-border hedge funds. “I decided that, rather than keep everything in London, which is probably the most attractive place to live, I would set up in Miami.
He was “really a one-man business and I was in New York for a couple of years. It wasn’t a well-known name at the time, but a year later I moved to New York and had an office there and moved into West 49th street. I also moved to Miami and I’ve been there for 10 years now.”
Becoming an émigré
Roland McNally moved to London in 1996 and became the first legal immigrant to become a British citizen. In 2014, he launched The House Magazine , which examines the changing face of the British society. He’s a huge supporter of the modern émigré London lifestyle.
“I think the impact of being so close to some of the more illustrious super humans of this world for the London-based super babybus passengers of New York is something I’m incredibly inspired by and that I think you don’t find here.”
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In addition to great food, company and leisure, the London expats also appreciate the tapestry of the very, very rich.
Siegel brings up the late British aristocrat Robert Cecil, a protege of George III who negotiated Henry VIII’s accession to the English throne in 1537.
Siegel’s fiancée, Trudie Styler, co-founded