Hoarding can be defined as “excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.”

A hoarder at home

The TV show ‘Hoarders’ shows this in all its horrific glory – quantities of things that people will never be able to use, with reasons for holding on to them that defy logical explanation.

These look like tragic cases because they are poor

A billionaire who is able to keep accumulating cars, houses, clothes, private jets, and cash is no less of a hoarder – they can simply pay someone to keep their unabated accumulation organised. And instead of pitying it, it is fetishized.

Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos’ personal wealth has increased by $24,000,000,000 since the Coronavirus pandemic began. He is the only member of America’s five richest people to refuse to sign the Giving Pledge – a commitment to donate half of his wealth during his lifetime or in his will. 

Richard Branson has put his Virgin Atlantic staff on unpaid leave whilst asking for £500m of taxpayer money – equivalent to just over 10% of his personal wealth. If he kept his business going himself – as many others will have to do – he would still have so much money he would never be able to spend it.

Luckily some other billionaires – the Bill Gates’s and Warren Buffet’s of this world – do show us that it doesn’t have to be this way. So why do the Bezoses and Bransons still exist?

Stuffing an emotional void with cash

Although pitying these billionaires is a feat of mental agility of Olympic acrobatic proportions, this line of thinking does beg a question: 

“What is the emptiness inside that these people are trying to fill with money?”

And what would the world look like if they could fill it in other ways?