Billionaires say ‘I do’ to dating agency

A. Craig Copetas

January 20, 2011

PARIS: Billionaires need love, too. Inside a very elegant townhouse in Berkeley Square, London, eight executive matchmakers have spent the past 23 years quietly making a fortune coupling romance-starved millionaires and billionaires.

For fees that start at £10,000 ($16,000) and go to many times that, Virginia Sweetingham and her luxury love advisers at Gray & Farrar International will vet suitable partners for clients prepared to abandon the raunchier applications of money and love.

”There are a lot of wealthy single people out there ready to commit, looking for loyalty,” Ms Sweetingham, 53, says of her client base of 750 men and 750 women.

The median age is about 40 years old. The firm’s youngest client is an ”ambitious and focused” 22-year-old man, the oldest a gent ”over 70 with a great sense of intelligent humour”.

Even a private-banking house, Coutts & Co, hails Ms Sweetingham’s service as a splendid way ”to find love”, according to the British bank’s website.

”The pressure of work is the top barrier for them in finding a partner,” says Ms Sweetingham, a single mother of four, in her firm’s homey interview salon.

”Our clients want to meet new people, enter new social circles in a dignified way.”

The client requests are often daunting. ”We have one male client who has a particular look in mind, right down to the precise length of her cheekbones,” Ms Sweetingham says. ”That’s a specific brief that requires our bespoke service. Some of the tools we employ are the world’s lists of the most beautiful and available men and women.”

A computerised client database is forbidden for security reasons. Almost everything is done by hand.

”The men get blue folders, the women pink,” says Ms Sweetingham. As for the annual fee, Ms Sweetingham says ”the price is indicative of our clients’ commitment to find the right person and settle into a relationship; they’re individuals who wouldn’t think twice about paying even more to an executive headhunter to locate the right job candidate.”

Ms Sweetingham’s statistics over the past decade show a 20 per cent drop in divorced clients. ”Fewer than 40 per cent of our clients are divorced and the number continues to decline,” Ms Sweetingham says.

”The majority of our new clients have always been single and that’s a significant global generational statement.”

Bloomberg

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha