Switzerland’s Central Banker was brought down by some foreign exchange trades made by his art dealer wife. The Financial Times’s John Gapper writes an encomium for Hildebrand and tries to explain the “dollar lifestyle” that couple inhabit. For our purposes, what’s interesting in the depiction is the central role the art market plays in this international group within the financial elite:
The “dollar lifestyle” – more accurately the offshore eurodollar lifestyle – lived by hedge fund and private equity titans is now deeply unpopular. The 1 per cent of the 1 per cent who flit by private jet among the world’s financial centres, Art Basel Miami Beach, the Gulf and Davos (near where the Hildebrands have now bought another ski apartment) have lost their glister.
The Hildebrands were not part of that set but neither were they far removed. “I invited him to ‘Christie’s Dinner’ at the Dolder Grand [a five-star hotel],” their banker wrote in an internal memo in August. “Unfortunately, Kashya won’t be around as she will be in Dubai attending some art business.”
The Hildebrands’ combination of high finance and modern art is typical of the kind of hedge fund couple they once were. They met in New York at Moore Capital, a macro hedge fund that trades on big movements in currencies and global assets, where Mr Hildebrand was an economist and Mrs Hildebrand – then Kashya Mahmood – a foreign exchange trader.
Despite having opened a gallery in Zurich specialising in modern Asian art, Mrs Hildebrand did not lose her instinct for a good trade. The couple had decided to keep their assets split between Swiss francs and dollars – partly in the hope that their teenage daughter would attend a US university – and the sharp rise in the Swiss franc last year made Mrs Hildebrand itchy.