Billionaire businessman Johann Rupert, chairman of Swiss luxury goods company Richemont and South African investment holding company Remgro Limited, has recently been speaking in favor of basic income.

In March, Rupert spoke to the Swiss economic newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft about the state of the Swiss watch industry. While the interview mainly focused on this specific industry and Rupert’s company Richemont, it eventually turned to some more general questions.

Asked about his biggest worries for the future of the economy, Rupert mentioned growing inequality and threat of job losses due to automation; in his view, such social and economic changes would intensify political extremism and hatred in society.  

When then questioned about potential solutions, Rupert brought up basic income, stating, “In order to mitigate the job losses through automation, we will have to talk about forms of unconditional basic income [German: Formen eines bedingungs­losen Grundeinkommens].”

In May, Financial Times reported that Rupert had told journalists, “I’m a proponent of universal basic income. We have to give time to people to re-skill themselves for a new economy.”

According to Forbes, Rupert is Africa’s fourth richest person.



Mark Dittli and Pascal Meisser, “Die Lage in China hat sich normalisiert,” Finanz und Wirtschaft, March 24, 2017. (In German)

Ralph Atkins, “Richemont founder backs universal basic income,” Financial Times, May 12, 2017.

Reviewed by Asha Pond

Photo: Montblanc Watches (a subsidiary of Richemont), CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 antefixus21