9

Given that Ferengis are so profit-oriented, it would be interesting to know who among them is the richest. Not easy to be number one among such a capitalistic society.

  • 4
    The Nagus is repeatedly described as the most "powerful"/"influential" but I can't find any reference to him being the richest, merely that he's rich. – Valorum Dec 24 '16 at 12:06
  • Hmm. The sole reference I can find to Zek being the richest ferengi is in an EU novel – Valorum Dec 24 '16 at 12:16
  • The Grand Nagus is the political/economic leader of the Ferengi, but not necessarily the richest. Cousin Gaila owns his own moon... – user45485 Dec 24 '16 at 14:19
13

While the Grand Nagus role did not seem to inherently confer great wealth (that is, there doesn't seem to be a huge cash prize that persists after the position is gone... we've seen temporary Nagus position holders who went back to, more or less, their original station after the fact) the powers that came with the position would almost certainly enable any long-term Nagus to become rich beyond anybody else.

When Quark thought he was going to become the Nagus in the episode "The Dogs of War", we see these exchanges:

QUARK: I don't. And I'm going to do something about it. This disease has got to be stopped before it destroys everything Ferenginar stands for. If Zek wants me to be Nagus, he's going to have to let me do things my way. Or else, I'll turn down the job!

ROM: Are you serious?

QUARK: You bet I am.

ROM: But being Nagus will make you rich.

QUARK: I don't care. I won't preside over the demise of Ferengi civilisation. Not me. The line has to be drawn here. This far and no further!

And

QUARK: Just think. This time next week I'll be living in the Nagal Residence.

NOG: They say even the waste extraction fixtures are plated with latinum.

QUARK: That's right. Oh, the first thing I'm going to do is rip them out and replace them with solid latinum fixtures.

LEETA: That's a little indulgent, don't you think?

QUARK: Of course, that's the point. A Nagus has to lead by example. My greed has to be a shining light to everyone. A testament to the rewards of avarice.

So clearly it's a position that inevitably leads to vastly increased wealth.

It's easy to see why. The Grand Nagus is allowed to have his own business interests and, with no apparent conflict of interest laws in evidence, can both designate trade territories and overrule the Ferengi Commerce Authority (creators of virtually the only laws the Ferengis have to abide by) on many of its decisions. In addition, bribery seems to be an accepted part of Ferengi society... in exchange for granting a business opportunity, for example, Quark, in his brief tenure as Grand Nagus in "The Nagus", was offered and accepted a 50/50 split of the profits. That was the profits of the entire synthehol trade in the Gamma Quadrant. Even asking the Nagus advice (and there's a steady stream of petitioners) requires a payment.

Quark once thought that the Nagus' presence meant that he would lose the bar (again in the episode "The Nagus"):

QUARK: Why else would he come all this way. He's going to buy me out... and for a fraction of what the place is worth.

ROM: You can always refuse to sell.

QUARK: Why didn't I think of that. (angrily) Idiot, the Nagus doesn't take no for an answer.

So, the Nagus can declare where Ferengi can do business (and demand a cut of the profits in exchange for prime spots), he can overrule the Ferengi Commerce Authority (which include the powers to forbid Ferengi from doing business), he can unilaterally make laws like the Emancipation of Ferengi Women (and Grand Nagus Zek ended his reign with a number of sweeping reforms). A Nagus might risk being deposed or assassinated by using his power recklessly, but that appears to be the only thing that can stop him. And, at least Quark believes he can (and in fact routinely does) buy out businesses for a fraction of what they're actually worth, with little recourse for a Ferengi to refuse.

With all of this unchecked power, it's hard to imagine the Grand Nagus, given enough time to use it and with enough of support that he's not easily overthrown, not eventually becoming the wealthiest Ferengi, unless he wasn't trying very hard, which was probably one of the few things that might get him deposed. The worship of Greed is one of the founding stones of Ferengi civilization, using that power for material gain is expected. Zek was acknowledged as the Grand Nagus for a significant chunk of the 24th century.

So, Zek, the Grand Nagus for most of the run of Deep Space 9, was almost certainly the richest Ferengi we ever saw in material terms. It's quite possible he was the richest Ferengi overall in that time period, but it's difficult to confirm as there doesn't seem to be an explicit reference and you potentially run into different definitions of wealth.

Zek's reign ended with a large number of sweeping reforms intended to limit the Nagus' power, so future holders of the title may not find it so easy to financially dominate.

But, in the spirit of the season this question and answer was posted, Rom, who succeeded him, was probably the richest Ferengi in Star Trek, for he had learned there were more important things in life than merely the pursuit of profit.

  • I've downvoted. The quotes you've provided show that the Nagus is wealthy (and has the capacity to generate more wealth) but they certainly don't indicate that he's the wealthiest Ferengi of them all. – Valorum Dec 24 '16 at 16:19
  • 3
    I've upvoted. Reasonable speculation is always welcome and you make a strong case for the Nagus being the wealthiest. – Praxis Dec 24 '16 at 19:09
  • @Praxis - Actually one of the key arguments against this answer is contained in this answer. Quark becomes Nagus, then goes back to owning a bar. Even if becoming Nagus is the keys to the kingdom for Ferengi commerce, it would take decades to amass the sort of wealth that allows you to buy a planet or a moon. – Valorum Dec 26 '16 at 1:04
  • 1
    Quark was Nagus for, what, a matter of days? And not even as a real Nagus, but as part of a ruse the real Nagus had employed. Any deal he made was invalidated, so yeah, he went back to running a bar. Zek, on the other hand was excited about going on his first vacation in 85 years. Even if some of that was pre-Nagus, he had the time, ruthlessness, and intelligence to amass a huge wealth power base. – starpilotsix Dec 26 '16 at 8:05
  • 1
    And again, Quark thought Zek would buy the bar for a fraction of what it was worth (and Zek jokingly threatened at the end doing it). Either Quark is ignorant about how Ferengi business is done, or this is something the Nagus could do.. if you can buy successful businesses for fraction of market value, not to mention probably having a considerable wealth to start with (Zek might have chosen his successors for spurious reasons but that's no reason to assume his predecessor did), yeah, you're going to rise to the top pretty quickly. – starpilotsix Dec 26 '16 at 8:11

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