We recently got a special tour of a new venture on Madison Avenue that has been causing quite a stir. The business is called Mammonary Springs Wellness Center. Because Mammonary Springs is secretive to the extreme, a number of far-fetched rumors have bloomed—ranging from the suggestion that it provides a fountain of youth-like treatment to the insinuation that it is simply a high-end brothel. In truth, however, it is dedicated to treating wealthy individuals who have lost their sense of self-importance.
The facility has no public sign, and it occupies floors six through nine in a mixed commercial and residential high-rise. We can’t give an exact location or description due to security concerns that will become evident as you read on. To enter the space, you must pass three security checkpoints, and finally pass through an armor-plated door as thick as a bank safe’s door.
“Many of our clients arrive in a sad state,” says Rich Hardon, the president of Mammonary Springs, who agreed to show us around his establishment in order to dispel some of the “insidious” rumors about his enterprise. “It would break your heart if you saw them as I do. They’re often overcome with nervousness and confusion that normal people just can’t know. I’ve seen billionaires—I can’t name names, you understand—but, billionaires so confused when they come in that they’re kind to the desk clerk and chummy with the waitstaff. Sadly, this is happening more and more often these days.”
What is causing this epidemic of self-effacement among the 1%? According to Hardon, the problem lies in the nature of money today. So much business is conducted virtually—from professional deals to personal purchases—that a wealthy person may not see a stack of cash of more than a few tens of thousands of dollars more than once or twice a year. Academic research has established that money has strong psychological effects on people, as demonstrated in articles like “Wealth and Subjective Well-Being: Why ‘Savoring’ is a Limited Measure of Happiness” by E. Colin Bacter in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience, and Hardon says that knowing you are wealthy but not seeing the physical proof of it in the form of cold, hard cash can create a psychic schism, bringing about self-doubt and a variety of neurotic symptoms. “Imagine you are a serial entrepreneur. You own hundreds of millions in stock options in various companies and other investments. You can’t spend a fraction of all that wealth at any given time. You may move huge sums, millions and millions, from, say, the Caymans to Macau, but you never touch it. You never get the deep psychological reassurance that your wealth tangibly exists.”
Mammonary Springs allows a select clientele to spend time in the presence of vast amounts of cash or commodity metals; it’s sort of like a fractional time-share for physical money. Hardon showed us three of the facility’s nine recovery rooms. Each is comfortably appointed, with a seating area including a couch large enough to lie down on, and all the electronic equipment one could wish. The central feature of each room, however, is a wall with built-in shelving, each shelf filled with stacks and stacks of currency. The three rooms we visited featured, respectively, $100 bills, 100 Euro notes, and .999 pure cast gold bullion bars. “Different forms of cash work for different people,” says Hardon.
You can now understand why Mammonary Springs is extremely concerned about security. They would not tell us the total specie they have on the premises, but our rough estimate comes out to at least $180 million. Similarly, Mammonary Springs would not reveal what they charge clients for their services. However, given the capital investment necessary for the nine recovery rooms, the costs must be very, very high. Hardon insists that “hundreds” of wealthy clients are happy to pay for Mammonary Springs’ services.
Clients can spend between 20 minutes and two hours in the recovery rooms. Their progress is closely monitored by a team of psychologists and other care providers. Hardon says that most clients start with an intense treatment regimen and then taper to a single weekly visit as they “regain their sense that, yes, they really are better than other people. Yes, they really are masters of immense wealth.”
Hardon described plans to expand his business, perhaps through franchises in other global metropolises or with a custom perfume or line of haute couture. However, he insisted that his greatest satisfaction is always in seeing first-hand the great good Mammonary Springs does. “There’s no feeling better than seeing an oil heir who once crept in here, now strut in, shout at the staff for his key card, and then complain to me about how the whole place could be run better. Or say I have to tell a client that the room they want is already booked, and they bark, ‘Don’t you know who I am?!’ Then I know it’s all been worth it.”
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