Alki David, the 50-year-old billionaire heir of a Greek Coca Cola bottling fortune, is defined by his eccentricities and the kinds of projects he throws his money. He once offered to pay anyone $1 million to streak past former President Obama.
He’s also at the forefront of the hologram industry.
His company is one of several burgeoning hologram companies — and possibly the first to make a noticeable dent in the industry.
After numerous legal battles over ownership of the hologram technology, David came to own the patents that are a slight step up from what he refers to as a “200-year-old parlor trick.” (They're actually closer to around 150 years old). It’s the same technology that allowed Tupac to perform on stage at Coachella in 2012 and candidate Narenda Modi to become Prime Minister by virtue of him being projected across India in hologram form.
"Narenda Modi was elected with a 67 percentage majority against a party that had been in power for 30 years solely because we orchestrated that whole thing and really showed how powerful this illusion can be," David told VICE News.
But there are some things holograms can’t fix, like David's reputation. In addition to suing companies that have similar hologram technology, he’s faced a litany of lawsuits from his former employees.
The allegations in those lawsuits are serious: sexual harassment, sexual battery, and racial discrimination to name only a few. David adamantly denies any wrongdoing and has the funds to stay in court for an indefinite amount of time.
As the nebulous hologram industry attempts to break into a legitimate form of live entertainment, it’s hard to be sure if David can be the one to lead the way.
"Anybody like me, if you Google anybody with money, they have a string of lawsuits against them," David said. "Because this is how people operate these days for the most part."
This segment originally aired January 8, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.