The Millionaire Next Door

New Headline: Overnight Bus Trips Help Fund $800 M Art Museum!

In Stop Acting Rich, I mentioned my admiration for Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart.  His  motor vehicle of choice was a Ford pick-up truck.  Interestingly, it was also the favorite among the millionaires profiled in The Millionaire Next Door.

In sharp contrast to Mr. Walton’s lifestyle, a recent article reported that his heirs donated $800M to build an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.  It is commendable that they have made this contribution to the arts.  However, no where in the article are the sacrifices that Mr. Walton and his early group of colleagues made in an effort to create what Wal-Mart is today mentioned.  Mr. Walton and his executives more often than not took business trips overnight by bus instead of flying and paying for hotel rooms.   When they did stay in a hotel, they typically slept 2-4 in a room!  These are just some of the many examples that are discussed in his biographies.  For every $100 they saved, they invested them back into the business.  And $100 invested initially would be worth more than $5M today. 

How do I feel when I read about the Walton’s “Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art” and how it outbid the National Gallery of Art to buy Asher B. Durand’s Hudson River School masterpiece, “Kindred Spirits,” from the New York Public Library for around $35M?  I envision Sam Walton smiling.  The country boy from Arkansas has beaten out the city slickers again!

3 thoughts on “New Headline: Overnight Bus Trips Help Fund $800 M Art Museum!”

  1. In the late 70’s my brother and I used to serve Sam his breakfast in Bentonville, AR at the A&W Restaurant. He wore old overalls and drove that old pickup. He was by himself. He always got the same thing. My Grandpa said he used to work with Sam at a department store as a salesman and he used to talk about opening up his own 5 and Dime store to include clothing. My Grandpa watched him successfully build Wal-Mart, unfortunately never investing in it though.

  2. I think it’s very telling that 4 out of the top 10 richest people in this country are named Walton, and that they are heavily involved in right-wing political causes. This is their perfect right, just as it’s my perfect right to decline to participate in turning this country into a Christian theocracy, which is basically what they’re after. This is a cruel hoax at best, since the Bible belt states are home to more churches (Christian, of course) per capita, than the rest of the country, but still lead the world in any category of social dis-ease or mayhem you might care to mention. Arkansas is a shining example, leading the US in divorce rates (neck and neck with Oklahoma, which has even more churches), murder, drug abuse, obesity, short life span, child abuse, child poverty, and any other measure you could come up with.
    Walmart has destroyed small town America, addicted these people to microscopic salaries, vanishing benefits, and effectively moving American industry to China, all while making it look like they’re just good Americans. I doubt that Sam would be proud of the fact that one has to search hard to find any items in their stores made in the US

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