Is there really such a thing as a professional “hitman”, or are they just a creation of fiction writers?

I work in finance and I am not a criminal lawyer (thus I don’t have a big professional experience on the subject) but I once stumbled in a case with not just one but two hit men.

A Milanese, extremely wealthy, investment banker in his 50s, with the typical “perfect” family (a beautiful wife, his only son studying in London, an awesome mansion, etc.) had a South American “lover”.

She was very beautiful, albeit jobless: she was a sort of former prostitute / former model, even if the line between her two jobs was really blurred.

Everything went fine between the two until she (unexpectedly) got pregnant.

She did not ask him for money, but asked the Milanese Banker to marry her.

This was simply not an option for the Milanese Banker so he had the very “smart” idea to hire two Venezuelan drug dealers to kidnap the girl and eventually kill her.

The two drug dealers were paid a 50% deposit upon taking the instructions, with the promise of receiving the other half once their job was completed.

The two Venezuelans swiftly kidnapped the girl while she was jogging one morning and took her to an abandoned building at the outskirts of Milan.

They kept her there a few days while they were discussing vigorously how to kill her (apparently even for a professional hitman it is not so easy to shoot and kill a pregnant woman).

Eventually they realized that they did not have the heart to kill her (and the baby) and they set her free.

They also kept the 50% deposit they already got and went back to their normal drug dealing business.

In case you are interested in how the story ended up: she went back to normal life and started getting a small “salary” from the Milanese Banker (she gave up on the idea of marrying him anyway).

A few weeks after giving birth to a beautiful baby boy, she confided the kidnapping to a friend during a walk in the park.

This friend went to the police and, after some checking, they arrested the Milanese Banker a few days later…

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What do Italians call “La Bella Figura”?

Bella (or Brutta) figura means: Looking Good (or Bad) in the eyes of society.

This is an extremely powerful concept in the Italian Culture where everybody is subject to and judged by the “Social eye”.

An example of this concept may be the following.

In 2000, Fiat Auto was collapsing because of persistent poor sales and inability to penetrate the global markets and it was on the verge to be sold to the then Daimler-Chrysler group for 13 Billion USD.

This would have required Gianni Agnelli to admit his failure as the entrepreneur who inherited the company from his grand-dad. Selling to Daimler-Chrysler would also have meant thousands of blue-collar jobs to be erased overnight in his home-town, Torino.

In other words, to sell the Company, even if it would have yielded 13 Billion USD for the shareholders of a quickly declining company, would have been for l’Avvocato (“The Lawyer”, Gianni Agnelli’s nickname) a terrible “Brutta Figura” and, as Vanity Fair once commented: “This is the classic term for just about the worst crime an Italian can commit: looking bad in the eyes of society. Agnelli knew that the sale of a 100-year-old Italian car-maker to the Germans would have made him appear treasonous.”

To keep the Company and save it together with thousands of jobs at home would have been a “Bella Figura”, regardless of the price to be paid in order to achieve it.

Naturally, Gianni Agnelli opted not to sell “at all cost”.

The company shed 10 Billion USD of its value in the following 3 years (a bloodbath for the shareholders who lost 75% of their investment) and the whole “extended” Agnelli family’s stake in the company was virtually pulverized in order to save the Company (of the 80+ members of the extended Agnelli & Nasi families, only John Elkann remained with a substantial control stake) but, thanks to the Bella Figura,their face in front of society was saved.

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Are you bullish or bearish on Bitcoin?

Look: I will cut the story ultra-short (oversimplifying for the sake of brevity).

  1. Scarcity: there can only be 21 million Bitcoin ever to be mined.
  2. Security:So far the Bitcoin protocol has been proven unbreakable in its aim at preventing double-spending: the cryptography behind it has been 100% bulletproof.
  3. Decentralization: Nobody can sue Bitcoin as there is no Bitcoin Corporation: it is fully decentralized and the Bitcoin protocol will be alive as long as there will be an internet connection and some miners keeping the network alive.
  4. Network effect:Nobody knows for sure what will happen in the future but almost everybody is coming to terms with the fact that Bitcoin is becoming the decentralized, digital version of gold (a store of value accepted from the US to Saudi Arabia, from Moscow to Paris, in Africa as well as in India). No other digital currency has been able to match Bitcoin’s network effect. It is an amazing technological advancement, a generational shift.

If you are able to invest your money during the dips and ably buy at least 1 Bitcoin while everybody else panics, you will certainlybe among the top 21m Bitcoin holders on the planet. This means that you will be in the top 21m holders — on the planet — of next generation’s gold. Even if you are able to buy only 0.1 Bitcoin, you will still be among the top 210m holders on the planet (and there are 7bn people around!). Already an amazing achievement.

People still have not realized how rare Bitcoins are if you think in planetary terms and the fantastic potential of the technology, its decentralisation and its monstrous network effect.

Obviously there are risks but this is an asymmetrical bet, with known, limited losses if the project somehow fails and unlimited potential if it succeeds.

Short term price fluctuations should not distract anybody: there are very few opportunities like it in the market today and if you “get it”, investing in it is a no-brainer.

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