Kenny Forder was 18 and still in high school when he received his first takedown notice. He admits he freaked out a little when the lawyer's letter arrived at his mother's home in suburban Morris County, New Jersey, in June 2009. Vahan Gureghian, a wealthy executive active in Pennsylvania Republican politics, wanted Forder to remove the photos of Gureghian's $13.5 million, 30,652-square-foot, 10-bedroom, French-chateau-style mansion from his blog, Homes of the Rich. (The mansion also has a two-lane bowling alley, a 200-person great hall, and a moat.) Gureghian's attorney threatened Forder with legal action if he didn't delete the photos.
Forder, who has a fauxhawk, earrings, and bright hazel eyes, loves Lady Gaga, and shares a duplex with his mom and twin sister, was intimidated enough that he complied. He didn't give up on his website, though, which has since blossomed into a nearly full-time job.
"I've always had a fascination with the wealthy and how they live," he says, adding that he's been going to open houses since he was 15. If that seems a bit surprising, so too might his inspiration for the blog. Despite chronicling some astonishing indulgences—15-car garages, lavish indoor spas, 80-foot-long discos, "water sports courts"—Forder doesn't see his popular site as political, even in the era of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, he dreams of his own abode worthy of the 1 percent.
"I was born to be rich," Forder says, and he means it. He's not quite there yet, but his site pulls in about 142,000 visitors and $1,200 in ad revenue each month—more than enough to cover the payments on his 2011 Honda Accord Coupe. He quit the online college he was attending; once his website really takes off, he says, he plans to upgrade: "My next car is going to be a BMW, for sure." He'd also love to pick up a Cartier or Gucci wristwatch, and eventually a Bentley, like the one driven by his mom's boss, who owns a chain of car dealerships. In a year or two he'd like to move out of his mom's place, too.