Spinning Mushrooms into Gold

Bing Crosby and Marion Davies in GoingHollywood, 1933.

As psychedelics start to be taken seriously as a treatment for mental-health conditions, the worlds of loony mushroom-lovers and money-hungry investors collide

Queen Latifah is looking resplendent in a multicolored striped halter dress andpink sunglasses. She seems relaxed. Western Europe has been suffering under asevere heat wave over the last week, but here in the tiny village of Grimaud, near St.Tropez, it’s balmy.

Everyone at this party at Le Beauvallon, a private luxury estate built in 1911, iswearing something splashily colorful—the invitation called for “kaleidoscopiccocktail,” in keeping with tonight’s theme. It’s an “Evening of Discovery” hosted bythe Aurora Institute, a new charity devoted to “improving global mental health.”

“There are natural things on this planet that make people feel better,” says Latifah. “Ihave some friends who were not doing O.K. and now they’re doing O.K. Now is thetime to change the mindset. There’s a man in a mushroom shirt who’s about tochange everything.”

She’s referring to Christian Angermayer, the 44-year-old German billionaire andco-founder of Aurora, who’s here, wearing a cream-colored, mushroom-patternedbutton-down and dashing around the crowd with the excitement of a teenagerthrowing his first party attended by the cool kids. “Latifah is amazing, and she lovespsychedelics,” he tells me. (When I ask if this is true, the rapper-actress just smilesand says, “I’m from California.”)

Angermayer is a rather controversial figure in the business world. He’s “made afortune on the risky and faddish,” Bloomberg said in 2021, with a “strange portfolio”that includes psychedelics, crypto, movies, space travel, life extension, weed, andSPACs (special purpose acquisition companies). In the same piece, Angermayer saidhis first trip on magic mushrooms was “the single most meaningful thing I’ve everdone in my whole life,” and that, during it, he finally understood Bitcoin.

Tall, with brushed-back dark hair and bright, child-like brown eyes, Angermayerseems as happy as he frequently insists he is. “I have a gift, which is I’m practicallyalways happy,” he tells me. “My overall concept of life is: I like myself.”…

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