Upon rereading the book recently, I took special note of Gatsby’s spending habits. He’s described as a wealthy man, but he’s still living a very tony lifestyle for someone who made most of his money bootlegging. One over-the-top party, yes. But an over-the-top party every weekend? Even hedge-funders don’t live like that.
So I pulled every nugget from The Great Gatsby related to Gatsby’s personal wealth and income, and every passage that detailed his spending, and — with the help of some experts — tried to re-create a historical ledger that might have shown the state of Jay Gatsby’s fortune, if he had been a real person and not a figment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s imagination. It turns out that, far from accumulating vast stores of wealth, Jay Gatsby might have been spending beyond his means.