This report on an insane businessman and his bizarre plans appeared in Daily Mail, UK on 19th September, 2013 (lightly edited with extra photographs):
Brazilian businessman inspired by Egypt’s Pharaohs buries his £310,000 Bentley so he can use it in the afterlife
• ‘Count Scarpa’ loves his new convertible Bentley so much he’s burying it
• He’s copying the Egyptian Pharaohs so he can have his riches in the afterlife
• He says he was inspired by a documentary he saw on Egypt – on Sunday
He has all the riches he could ever dream for in this life. But to avoid any risk of missing out in the afterlife, wealthy entrepreneur ‘Count Scarpa’ is burying his greatest treasure – his new £310,000 Bentley convertible.
In a bizarre announcement on his Facebook page the 62-year-old declared that he plans to do as the Pharaohs of Egypt did and take his riches with him when he dies by burying them. So tomorrow, he will entomb his brand new Bentley Continental worth over £310,000 to make sure he has a comfortable journey into the ‘other side’. The funeral ceremony, he promises, will be at 11am.
In a photo on his social network site Count Scarpa stands beside his black Flying Spur, the latest model on the market, with a cockatoo on his arm and writes: ‘I decided to do as the Pharaohs: this week I will bury my favourite car, the Bentley here in the home garden! Bury my treasure in my palace rssss !!!’
He says he’s digging the grave in the back garden of his mansion in Jardins, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Sao Paulo.
On Tuesday, in another photo, sporting a pink tie, with his foot on a shovel, he stands in front of a deep hole with his shining Bentley parked behind him and warns: ‘For those who doubt me, yesterday I already started making the hole in the garden to bury my Bentley! By the end of the week I will bury it’
The self-made businessman, who has a degree in economics and is a black belt instructor and owner of the Institute Maruyama Aikido, a Japanese martial arts academy, explains that his decision to start storing up his treasures for the life beyond came after watching a program on Ancient Egypt on Sunday. ‘I was watching a documentary about the Pharaohs of Egypt, very interesting. They buried his entire fortune to have a comfortable life “the other side”!’ he says.
By Tuesday his decision to bury his Bentley had received over 5680 likes and more than 6000 shares.
On Wednesday, a new photo appeared updating his plans and shows just how serious he is. He’s pictured operating an excavator, in a cream colored suit and lime green tie. It looks like he’s spent quite a few hours digging the grave. In front of him is very deep hole with a huge pile of dirt beside it.
On the same day he reveals that he’s appearing on a satirical talk show on Bandeirantes television, hosted by Danilo Gentili – photographed with him, to talk about the funeral of his beloved Bentley. In the TV interview he explains to viewers that he was traveling back from his farm after celebrating his birthday on Sunday and started thinking about how the pharaohs were buried with the most precious items in their life.
“I watched the film of the pharaohs and after seeing how they were buried with their treasures I decided that I wanted to copy them and bury my most precious item, which is my car,” he says.
In between his explanation, viewers tweet their comments. One says wryly: ‘Chiquinho, is it true you want to bury your imported car because you don’t want to pay your taxes?’
‘No,’ he answers straight-faced. ‘I’ve already shown all my documents to the authorities before doing the funeral.’ Another asks if he wants to adopt a family from Brasilia. He says he’s currently single and doesn’t want a family. A lot of the comments are however, very critical and accuse him of wasting money. Instead of burying his car he should donate the proceeds to help Brazilian people. ‘Maria Lucia’ sends a message begging Scarpa to send the car to her as she needs the cash.
Others are sarcastic: ‘This is nothing new. Chiquinho may be burying his car but the Brazilian government has buried the Brazilian people,’ says one referring to corruption and the wealth of the nation being ‘buried’ in the pockets of bent politicians.
Scarpa says he is not one of these corrupt individuals and has paid all his taxes, never been in debt or been bankrupt.
‘Alex’ on the other hand agrees with the crazy decision and tweets: ‘I think you should do what you want to do, because it shows that you cannot take anything with you from this life and you might as well enjoy the idea of doing so. However, if you would like to help me with the social project I’m running, I would be very grateful.’
Scarpa is not new to the idea of facing death. In 2009 he was in a coma for over two months after a superbug nearly killed him following a stomach reduction operation. He ‘died’ twice during the ordeal and was given the last rites on both occasions by a priest. In an interview with celebrity magazine, Caras, in January this year he said: ‘When I had the surgery, I got a very strong bacteria that killed several people. ‘I was in a coma for 63 days; the doctor told me he had ‘opened’ me eight times. I came close to death twice. The priest gave me two anointing’s. This was all because of bacteria. I took it and got away with it. Unfortunately this was not the case with my mother. She had an operation on her femur, got the bacterium and died in February 2012. I am strong,’ he adds.
Scarpa lives in one of the most expensive areas in Sao Paulo in a property spanning more than 14000 square meters. He inherited his title from his Italian-born father Count Francisco Scarpa who was given the honor by Pope Pius XII in 1949, for his charitable contributions to society.
The eccentric businessman benefited from his father’s wealth and made his fortune from the brewery and mining industry. He now runs an investment company and has been married twice. His first wife died and he is divorced from the second.
He has even met Chelsea Football Club owner, Russian businessman, Roman Abramovich who invited him to visit his yacht in Capri, Italy, for dinner two years ago.
With no children to carry on the family name Scarpa says his cockatoo, which is perched on his arm in the Facebook picture showing him standing beside his Bentley, is his offspring.
‘This here is my “daughter”,’ he said in the interview with Caras. ‘She is called Filomena Leopoldina Sofia Scarpa. She is six-months-old and is endangered,’ he said.
The white cockatoo – which even has her own business card – is one of the most expensive birds in the world costing around £14,000.
The Pharaohs were known for burying their beloved pets with them so they could enjoy their company in the afterlife. So far Scarpa hasn’t said whether he plans to do the same with Filomena.
The day for the interment, he posted this pic of himself applying a final polish to the doomed car…
So the stage was set with the media, social network and people from far and near agog over the bizarre happening-to-be.
On the day of the burial and moments before commencing the final act, with the media broadcasting live, Scarpa’s real intentions were revealed:
“I didn’t bury my car, but everyone thought it absurd when I said I would,” he said. “What’s absurd is burying your organs, which can save you many lives. Nothing is more valuable. Be a donor and tell your family,” he announced.
The event marked the opening of “National Organ Donation Week,” and Scarpa’s stunt turned out to be the launching pad of a campaign by Leo Burnett.
creamglobal sums this extraordinary stunt swallowed hook line and sinker by the media, social network and people from far and near, in its case-study:
Insight: Brazil has very few organ donors per capita. Brazilian Association of Organ Transplants (ABTO) needed to generate a public debate and, hopefully, increase the number of donors. The insight is powerful because it is based on a truth: people are not shocked by the burying of organs that could save lives, but they are by the burying of a luxury car.
Strategy: To change that, Leo Burnett asked a very famous and eccentric Brazilian billionaire, Chiquinho Scarpa, to post on his Facebook page that he would bury his half-a-million dollar Bentley in the yard of his mansion, inspired by the Pharaohs In the burial event, with the media broadcasting live to the whole country, the Organs Donation campaign was revealed.
Execution: The ABTO is a non-profitable organization. The challenge was to develop an idea that was efficient even with no budget. Leo Burnett chose the Facebook as the “fire starter” – posting is totally free. Right after the famous eccentric billionaire Chiquinho Scarpa posted that he would bury his $500,000 Bentley in the yard of his mansion, it was literally everywhere. Scarpa became Brazil’s number one villain. People revolted. The national media took the bait and strongly criticized Scarpa’s decision on every TV channel, radio station, newspaper, magazine and internet portal in the country, making a £22m integrated campaign for ABTO for free. In the burial event, with the media broadcasting live, the organ donation campaign was revealed, achieving results way beyond the expected. Posters, prints and radio spots followed, all aired for free with the newly gained support from the media.
Results: Organ donations increased by 31.5% in just one month. More than 172 million people impacted on social networks alone, through only six Facebook posts. It generated $22m of earned media with all of the spontaneous coverage on TV (live broadcast included), radio, newspapers, magazines and Internet portals, with ZERO investments in media. The production cost was only $6,000 – that’s the total cost of the whole campaign. It ranked number one in Brazil on Trending Topics and number two in the world.