Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Story, October 1978: ABBA: “Isn’t it wonderful to have more than enough money?”

Dutch gossip magazine Story informing us that ABBA thinks it’s just wonderful to have a lot of money. Well, what else is new...
While other Swedish millionaires are leaving their country to escape from the high taxes in their home country, ABBA isn’t even considering to go and live abroad. “We don’t have to keep all this money to ourselves, do we?”

“We have everything we could wish for; beautiful houses, our own island, an exquisite yacht and more than enough money to buy anything we want. What else could we possibly wish for? We are completely satisfied,” is what the four ABBA-members are saying.
Movie director Ingmar Bergman moved to America a couple of years ago. The young Swedish tennis champion Björn Borg and the racing driver Ronnie Peterson both settled in the same apartment building in Monaco.
“It would be crazy if we had stayed in Sweden,” all three of them give as a reason for their departure. “Eighty-five percent of everything that you make goes to taxes over there. That’s ridiculous, isn’t it!”
“We are always saying: anyone who has to pay a lot of taxes has made even more money!” ABBA’s Agnetha, Frida, Benny and Björn give as a counter-argument. Because, contrary to many other Swedish millionaires, they aren’t even considering to leave their home country because of its taxes. Meanwhile, they are making even a whole lot more money than Ingmar Bergman, Björn Borg and Ronnie Peterson.
“Why would we want to leave this country?” is what they are saying and they agree wholeheartedly. “We are fine with how things are. Sweden is a wonderful country. With people that are down to earth. Of course, we could drive around in a Rolls Royce, but people would probably start throwing rotten tomatoes at us. ‘Just act normal, that’s strange enough’ is what people are saying here. Isn’t that the right state of mind? We can simply be ourselves in Sweden and that’s exactly what we need. We can walk the streets quietly without being bothered by fans. Because the people are so down to earth here. No, we wouldn’t want to live in any other country. And we don’t mind that we have to pay taxes. That’s money well spent.”
Their manager Stig Anderson is just as outspoken about ABBA’s earnings as the ABBA-members themselves. “Everyone is allowed to know how much we are making,” he says. “That’s no secret.”

Then, full of pride, he tells Story that around 53 million ABBA-records have been sold in the past five years. In Australia, even one in every four households bought one of their records. About seven hundred million Dutch guilders came in on royalties. Add to that the earnings on concerts and television performances. In London alone, tickets were sold, amounting to a sum of seven million Dutch guilders. And, except for America, ABBA is on top in virtually every country.
Stig Anderson: “Even behind the Iron Curtain, our hit ‘Money, Money, Money’ made the top ten. But in Russia, you don’t get paid in cash. We had to make different arrangements for this country: instead of money, they sent us food and shares in oil.”
Stig Anderson explains how everything is arranged financially. Actually, everything is split into five shares: for the four ABBA-members and for Stig himself. Each one of them gets some kind of allowance (150.000 Dutch guilders each year, which is only a small part of the income) and the rest is being invested in the company, called AB, that has been founded specifically for that purpose. This company invests in buildings and department stores, finances major projects and donates large sums of money to charity, such as Amnesty International.

Since he is the only ABBA-member who speaks English fluently, Björn acts as a spokesperson for the quartet. He says: “Indeed, we do give a lot of money away. People appreciate us for doing that, but we think it’s actually our duty. Indeed, we make a lot more money than we actually need. As long as we can buy everything we like, we are satisfied. But after that, there’s more than enough left, even when the taxes have been paid. Why wouldn’t we help other people with all this money? We don’t have to keep everything to ourselves, do we? Because, like we said, we can’t drive around in a Rolls Royce here anyway. We are living comfortably, there's always something tucked away for a rainy day and our children’s future is secure. What else could we want?
People tend to say that money doesn’t buy you happiness. Well, it certainly did make us happy. Isn’t it wonderful to have more than enough money? We own everything that we didn’t even dare to dream of in former days and on top of that, we are making other people happy with our money as well!”

No comments: