One of the functions of the rich, says Dalrymple, ought to be to
preserve and increase the beauty of the world.
Yet many wealthy people, he points out, are
tactless, offensive, vulgar, and tasteless.
They very often
have no better taste than the poor.
Take the business mogul Mukesh Ambani and the 27-floor structure he calls home. Known as Antilia, it is a version of Xanadu, though a thousand times uglier than the mansion in the Welles film. Dalrymple writes:
When Mr. Ambani built his domestic skyscraper in Bombay I was appalled not by the expenditure (though I had walked through the slums of that city) but by the æsthetic worthlessness of what he had built.
To spend a billion dollars on a house and
to detract, slightly, from the beauty of the world is, in a way, an achievement.