Outrageous fortunes
Outrageous fortunes

Reporter: Alex Cullen
Producer: Penelope Cross

ROB BROADFIELD: They don’t call it the golden state for nothing – this is where the money is, they flaunt madly here, there’s so much bling in this place.

ZHENYA TSVETNENKO (pictured): I’ve got 2 Lamborghinis … a Ferrari F130, I’ve got a Bentley GTC in LA, I’ve got a Mercedes SLK here, and a Hummer as well, and I’ve just put the new Ferrari Italia on order. You know, people ask why do you have three sports cars? Because I can.

ROB BROADFIELD: That’s the beauty of Perth. Almost anyone can. It’s still the sort of the place where the dream can come true for a lot of people, which is why we’ve got a lot of people coming here.

ALEX CULLEN: Do you work hard and play hard?

MAL AND BREE DAY: Yeah.

ALEX CULLEN: Welcome to Boomtown. Perth has more millionaires per capita than any place in Australia. If you want to make your fortune then go west!

How old were you?

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: 26, 27 I think … yeah, 26 and a half, 27, something like that.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: I always knew he was going to be successful. I always thought he was a genius at everything.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: Thanks darling.

ALEX CULLEN: You’d be lucky to meet a happier couple than Lydia and Zhenya Tsvetnenko. Boomtown’s been good to them. Very good.

At 31 Zhenya is worth over a hundred million dollars … 600 000 of which he spent on their wedding. Zhenya was 12 when his parents left Russia to settle in Perth. They arrived with little English and next-to-no money.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: We came here with a couple of bags, a couple of suitcases and $6,000, and I remember that figure because I remember that’s how much we sold our apartment in Russia for, for $6,000.

ALEX CULLEN: Zhenya, who wrote his first computer program at 7, was a University drop-out working for a software company when he first laid eyes on Lydia.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO:We met in a nightclub, the Paramount nightclub I saw a girl on the balcony, she was standing there with a friend. And I looked up and I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful in my entire life and it was just love at first sight.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: He was just so cute when he come running up to me, he was just genuine you know. And I said to my friend straight away that he was cute and we’ve spent every day since pretty much, so something he said was right.

ALEX CULLEN: After three months they moved in together … here.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: Those times were pretty tough and we were pretty much living on Lydia’s wage.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: And two minute noodles.

ALEX CULLEN: While Lydia worked in retail by day, Zhenya spent his nights developing a revolutionary SMS service. It meant companies could send millions of messages in a matter of seconds.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: And so within 18 months from spending $200 a month, I was spending over $2M a month in advertising.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: it happened pretty fast though.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: The first thing I remember I did to reward myself was to buy my first expensive car.

ALEX CULLEN: And then another, and another, and another …

If it’s there spend it?

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: If it’s there spend it, yes.

ROB BROADFIELD: There is a lot of money circulating around this place. It’s a very wealthy city … that breeds a sort of can do attitude, which attracts more money to the place in a peculiar way as well as people who want to make good ready bucks.

ALEX CULLEN: No one keeps a keener eye on Perth’s newly minted millionaires than Rob Broadfield, social columnist for The West Australian newspaper.

ROB BROADFIELD: We don’t have the undertow of old money here so when you make money here, it’s all yesterday’s money, it’s all just made and it does bring that brashness about it absolutely.

ALEX CULLEN: In Boomtown success equals excess. Raising money for breast cancer, the Boobalicious Ball is a who’s who of movers and shakers.

The auction is a chance to dig deep …

MAL DAY: Would we bid for this?

BREE DAY: If you’d like yep.

ALEX CULLEN: And show off.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: They can bid us about but we are going to win that shit whether they like it or not!

ALEX CULLEN: It may be for a good cause but the competition is fierce…

Auctioneer: He’s got plenty of money, you can put your hand up and have a lot of fun here!

ALEX CULLEN: … As the millionaires go head to head.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

ROB DAY: Exactly … and a lot of people do. But they love it, they’re completely unabashed by it and you’ve got to welcome it somehow or celebrate it.

ALEX CULLEN: In Perth’s most prestigious penthouse, with his Penthouse pet wife by his side, Malcolm Day is a contented man.

The home he shares with Bree, a celebration of self-made success.

So what is this place worth?

MAL DAY: Look we had an agent come to us last year and say he could get us $20 million and were we interested in selling.

ALEX CULLEN: $20 million? It’s a lot of money

MAL DAY: That is a lot of money.

ALEX CULLEN: No expense has been spared.

While Bree looks on from nearly every wall, their poodles, Elmo and Cookie Monster have free reign. Malcolm designed the building himself, bringing a little bit of Miami art deco to Perth. Malcolm has three loves, his wife, their dogs … and crunching deals.

MALCOLM DAY: turns out he didn’t have any money, although I was hoping to go fifties and partners with me, in other words I put up all the money.

BREE DAY: Who’s in the building?

MALCOLM DAY: I think there’s a real estate agent taking some people through the apartment downstairs … some big hitters.

ALEX CULLEN: As a boy Malcolm dreamed of being a Big Hitter. He was the oldest of four children raised in a succession of housing commission homes by their single mum, Betty.

BREE DAY: He always wanted to have his own money … that was a big thing Malcolm to earn his own money. He used to say he was going to be a millionaire before he was 40 and well you know good on you love go for it. He was a millionaire long before he was 40.

ALEX CULLEN: Malcolm’s big idea was a little bit naughty.
He noticed while many couples were curious about adult stores, they were too embarrassed to walk in. So he thought ‘what if they didn’t have to leave home? What if they could shop on the net? No one would know and he’d make a fortune. Betty, though, was bothered.

BREE DAY: He had a brilliant job he was on $95,000 a year and all of a sudden he is telling me that he has got this new little business. Yes that was the start of that it was horrifying. But I was also very worried what is this adult shop business what am I going to tell all my friends my son is now in the sex industry.

ALEX CULLEN: What Betty was able to tell all her friends is that a year after it listed on the stock exchange her son’s risqué venture was worth 600 million dollars. Life was good, and about to get better.

BREE DAY: And I modelled for mal’s shop and I was their first online centerfold … I guess we stimulated each other intellectually, I was a bit different too.

MAL DAY: She is a bit different.

BREE DAY: You get that, I think I was a bit different to most of the girls he had been dating and he was definitely a bit different to most of the boys that I had been dating.

ALEX CULLEN: As is the Boomtown way their wedding was lavish …Bon Jovial in fact.

From housing commission to Penthouse, Malcolm, who together with Bree has now bought his first pub, another Boomtown success story.

MALCOLM DAY: In reality I have been quite lucky you know I am not the smartest guy in the world. As an entrepreneur you have to take risks. So many people have come up to me over the years & said great idea someone else has come up with the same idea and I said well that is great but you didn’t put your mangoes on the line and give it a go.

LYDIA ZVETNENKO: Come on in Alex, this is my wardrobe! I actually wore this to the MTV Awards.

ALEX CULLEN: For Lydia, success has brought more than designer clothes. It’s opened a door to the world’s rich and famous.

So have people complimented you on your outfits?

LYDIA TVETNENKO: Yeah … I’ve had a few compliments. Paris always loves my outfits. Um, we always seem to be at the same events together. And the guy from 24. Keifer …O’Sullithland?!

ALEX CULLEN: Sutherland.

LYDIA TVETNENKO: Sutherland. That’s it! Yeah I can never say it right.

ALEX CULLEN: LA is a regular destination for Lydia and Zhenya … here not just for the shopping but for inspiration …

LYDIA ZVETNENKO: I just love how they do parties.

ALEX CULLEN: It’s Saturday afternoon … and the party tonight is a big one. Lydia’s outfit is a surefire give away.

The party’s at Hugh’s place. At the Playboy mansion Hef’s there with a few hundred of his friends. It’s the Karma foundation’s Kandyland party for charity … And Lydia has come looking for ideas.

These guys really know how to put on a show! Now Lydia wants to take the ideas and inspiration she gets from the Playboy Mansion party back to Perth for her next big party.

LYDIA ZVETNENKO: It’s crazy it’s like Willy Wonka mixed with Alice In Wonderland.

ZHENYA TVETNENKO: You are going to bring that to Perth and Perth is going to rock.

ALEX CULLEN: As the sun set on the west, Fremantle jail was the setting for Lydia’s big bash. A fortune was spent and a fortune raised for muscular dystrophy. Hugh would have been proud.

Now I like the set up here, it’s very similar to the Playboy Mansion.

LYDIA ZVETNENKO: That’s what I was getting at … that’s what I wanted. That’s my compliment right there!

ALEX CULLEN: Can anyone make it in Perth?

ROB BROADFIELD: That’s the beauty of Perth. Almost anyone can. It’s still the sort of the place where the dream can come true for a lot of people, which is why we’ve got a lot of people coming here.

BREE DAY: It’s your new car darling.

ALEX CULLEN: Hard work and the drive to succeed …Has seen the big state boom. In Boomtown nothing seems impossible. And if it all goes pear shaped, well remember tomorrow is another day.

What if you lost all that money tomorrow?

BREE DAY: Just make more. Star again. Easy. Heads down, bum up.

MALCOLM DAY: I wouldn’t be happy.