Jim Pattison Jr owns a fantasy world. Many rightly call him the “king of entertainment.” Its business group has more than 100 attractions, including amusement parks, aquariums, wax museums and other exhibition halls. In addition, he is the owner of trademarks. Believe it or not! And Guinness Book of Records.
Some of his work is also extraordinary, with investments that may seem crazy. In 2016, he paid $4 million (plus $800,000 in commissions and another $200,000 in taxes) for a dress in which Marilyn Monroe sang the song. happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy on May 29, 1962 at Madison Square Garden.
The costume has been sold around the world, shown in major capitals and made a big impression when Kim Kardashian wore it to the Met Gala 2022, New York’s great fashion night. “A lot of people were not happy that Kim wore a Marilyn Monroe dress,” says Pattison.
– It was published all over the world that Marilyn Monroe’s dress was ruined.
“None of this was true. Kim wore this dress for only five minutes before going on the red carpet, and then changed into an exact copy of the dress that we have, so it was not damaged. There was a lot of controversy about this.
Why did you choose Kim Kardashian?
Kim and her family are very influential and have a very large audience. Today, every time you see the name Kim Kardashian, you see the name Marilyn. A whole new audience, a new generation Googled Marilyn Monroe to understand why Kim was a big fan of hers, respected her story and what she achieved, especially as a woman of her time.
-It was worth it?
Yes, it was very interesting. Kim Kardashian was a great ambassador for Marilyn Monroe. Thanks to her, we now have many more fans of Marilyn. Thousands of people can see this dress in our museum, but just look how many more people from all over the world have seen it in this short walk up the stairs. The situation caused a very big discussion, and I can only say good things about Kim Kardashian. She was really very professional and a pleasure to work with.
Jim Pattison Jr. (71) addresses the nation at the Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero. This is his third time in Argentina. He came as President of the World Association of Amusement Parks and Amusements (IAAPA) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Argentine Amusement Park Association (AAPA). Inescapable fact: his father is tycoon Jim Pattison, who at 94 is still working and has a second fortune in Canada estimated by Forbes at $10 billion.
– Why in the era of streaming and virtual reality, amusement parks do not lose their relevance?
“Because people need physical contact, we learned about this from the pandemic.
– What do people pay attention to when choosing an amusement park?
– Always ride the roller coaster. Do they scare you? You will come with me, nothing will happen, we will sit in front! There are so many entertainments that in the amusement park there will always be something to your liking. We could go to a haunted house (laughs). Today people are interested in sustainability, they are interested in landmarks that carry an environmental message. They also like to play a good game, go outside and enjoy nature. You see it in adventure parks, they want to participate in outdoor activities.
Do adults and young people have the same fun?
“Every generation is different, but historically people like to share different activities, what they did with their grandparents and parents, and what they will do with their children. They enjoy the same basic things: being together, having a good time… and eating! Today we have over a hundred entertainment centers and one of the best parts of my job is when I travel and sample food from parks all over the world. As an expert, I can tell you that the food here in Argentina is very good.
“The world of entertainment changes every day, and what was funny ten years ago may not be right today. How are they updated?
We take care of these things. How? We call it common sense, we listen to our visitors and our employees.
– In the digital age, is there still room for surprises?
I think so, and do you know why? Because reality is stranger than fiction. If you look at TikTok today, which is watched by all the youth, you will understand: there are real people doing real things. Believe it or not, as Ripley said.
– The world is fascinated by records: Guinness Book is the most stolen of the public bookstores in the United States.
– (Laughs) The key to the success of Guinness World Records is inclusion, because anyone can be incredible and hold a world record. As long as you have an idea of what you can achieve and what is safe… well, not all of them are safe (laughs), they are applicable. Anyone can set a new world record.
– Among so many unusual purchases, which investment would you single out?
We made a big purchase, not funny, but very interesting. A few years ago, we were recommended, as an international company, to have a torch from every modern Olympics. So we started looking for peace and collecting Olympic torches. Now we have everything, I think, except for two.
What two didn’t you get?
– I don’t remember, but I can say that there are a lot of them (smiles).
– After 100 years, Ripley continues to amaze the world.
– Yeah. Company Believe it or not! (Believe it or not) began with a cartoon that appeared in newspapers in 1918 and was very popular in the United States. Then he went around the world. Its creator Robert Ripley was a real person who visited 201 countries in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. And at that time (there were no air travel, like now) I had a cartoon where real people did strange things, but it was true. People did not believe him, so he traveled, and then he brought evidence and put it on display. Anything to prove he was right.
Why do we have such a passion for this type of exhibition?
-“Seeing is believing”. The public wants to be surprised.
– There is an Argentinean who cannot be overlooked in his parks: Lionel Messi. Have you thought about making an investment, buying something that identifies you?
-Oh yes! He comes to Miami. Absolutely. We would like to make a wax figure of him for our wax museum. We love his shoes, we love everything about him… Maybe we could buy his hair, why not?
– I never thought about it, but the idea is not bad (laughs).
“He has everything in his collection, even the car that belonged to John Lennon. Do you remember a failure, a purchase you regret?
“Too many failures to remember. But you won’t succeed if you don’t fail, because that means you don’t do anything. We have, yes, when buying, that people are trying to deceive us, to sell us something fake. Sometimes they succeed, and we will find out about this later.
– Do you have a mini-collection or a museum with strange objects at home?
– I’m the only one at home (laughs). No, I don’t have anything for style, my wife doesn’t allow it. It’s not like she’s running the show, but we’ve been married for 42 years, so we have a really good rapport. No lions or objects, we have some unusual things, but nothing special at home. It’s just cluttered with the usual stuff, married for four decades, with two kids.
What was it like growing up surrounded by these things?
When you grow up in this industry, your kids think it’s the best. And then after a while it’s like in the office, they get used to the roller coaster, games, fun and stuff like that.
– He has parks all over the world, I think he lives by traveling.
– Yeah. I have a love-hate relationship with airlines. But I am driven by curiosity: I think you learn a lot more by walking, seeing, visiting and talking to people than by sitting in a conference room. Robert Ripley has visited 201 countries around the world, we have business in over 10, so obviously we’re going to visit all of them. In addition, there is a park association in more than a hundred countries.
– What caused so many trips around the world and this visit to Argentina?
– Curiosity drives me. I think you learn a lot more by walking, seeing, visiting and talking to people than by sitting in a conference room.
– With such a large company and with so many enterprises, imports and dollars, what news comes from Argentina?
-Each country has different rules and you must respect the rules of the country. Whatever it is, the only thing we’ve learned doing business around the world is to make sure we don’t offend anyone culturally. We respect the law and respect people, thanks to which we have achieved long-term relationships for many years. The main thing is to treat yourself with respect.