As the French Revolution approached, pamphleteers accused Marie-Antoinette of a scandalous liaison with one of her noblewomen, Mme. de Polignac. The slurs seem to have been unfounded, but they did the queen immense harm.
Louis XV had Parisian jeweler Boehmer make a fabulous diamond bauble for his inamorata, Madame du Barry. By the time the necklace -- valued at $100 million in today’s currency -- was finished, the king was dead and the lady was banished.
On an unexpectedly rainy October day in Los Angeles, Stewart Resnick looks out the window of a third-floor conference room and shrugs. It's midway through California's biggest-ever pistachio harvest and the rain is yet another reminder, should anyone need it, of how important water is to his business. He helps himself to a half a vegetable wrap and a bottle of Fiji Water—one of the four big consumer brands Resnick owns—and takes his place at the head of the table, where senior executives of his private company, Roll International, have gathered to discuss how to sell 300 million pounds of pistachios.
On July 14, 1789, Louis XVI’s diary summed up the events of the day in one word: “Rien” (Nothing). The king was mistaken: The storming of the Bastille triggered the French Revolution and his own demise.
You can take the aesthete out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the aesthete. That's one way of explaining the success of the German (and now British) store Manufactum, best described as a Wal-Mart for the 1%.