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Gavin Newsom's Heavy Metal Side Hustle

The Lieutenant Governor is a silver fox.


Buying and selling large quantities of precious metals is not a usual side hustle for politicians. But it’s fairly typical for entrepreneurial rich guys—and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom happens to be one of those as well. Which is why it was both surprising and not when Newsom revealed in May that one of his family’s income streams between 2010 and 2014 was the sale of approximately $1.73 million worth of silver bars. According to tax forms made public by the 2018 gubernatorial candidate and his wife, the couple off-loaded an estimated 2,883 to 3,715 pounds of silver in those years.

Ricardo Ulivi, a professor emeritus of finance at California State University, Dominguez Hills and a private wealth adviser, confirms it’s “reasonable” for wealthy individuals to sink 5 to 10 percent of their investment portfolios into precious metals as a hedge against inflation or economic panics. Newsom’s campaign confirms that the candidate bought and sold silver “as a result of a broker’s diversification advice.”

Of course, stockpiling bullion is not without risk. Silver traded at less than $6 an ounce in May 2004 before jumping to $48.64 in April 2011, but as of May 1 it had plummeted to $16.89. Yet Newsom’s timing, in this as in other life decisions, has proved felicitous. According to his taxes, he netted a tidy $956,865 off the sales, including $499,452 in 2011 alone—the year the price of silver skyrocketed. 



Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco.

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