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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Peter S. Canellos

Sliding off the ‘Gatsby Curve’

In 1925, the year “The Great Gatsby” was published, the top 1 percent of Americans earned about 20 percent of the nation’s income; in 2013, the year that Baz Luhrmann’s frantic movie adaptation became a hit, the figure is likely to be, well, about 20 percent.

The numbers vary depending on the methodology, and there are changes on the bottom of the scale: The low-wage domestic workers and artisans who built and maintained the great estates of the 1920s are now earning somewhat more, meaning that ostentatious excess is a bit harder to achieve. On seemingly every promontory, though, there is evidence that people are trying. In Stockbridge, the 18,000-square-foot home of the son of robber-baron-era power broker Mark Hanna is on the market again as a potential single-family home after having been a school since the 1930s — a “rare opportunity to own one of the few remaining grand Berkshire cottages,” according to the realtor’s website.

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