Barely a week after Nathan Guy's signature on his citizenship application had dried, a refreshingly unpolished Peter Thiel struggled to quote Tolstoy in Auckland.
The investor, already a billionaire but yet to gain the international profile that came from backing Donald Trump's successful presidential campaign, was speaking ahead of an Auckland University Business School Ideas conference in July 2011.
Speaking to the Herald before this talk, Thiel stumbled in quoting the opening lines of Anna Karenina: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
He eventually got it right in response to a question about what made for business success, but waxed lyrical about New Zealand.
"There's a lot of incredibly talented people in New Zealand," he said. "New Zealand has some very interesting opportunities and it's also a place that's pleasant to spend some time in."
He threw red meat to his new base by rating the New Zealand tech sector more attractive than Australia's.
Thiel revealed that his first visit to the country was in 1993, for an adventure tourism jaunt in Queenstown, and he was looking to buy property both there and in Parnell.
But despite this public declaration of love, and a pipeline splurge of local investment (he appears to have invested more than $40 million in Xero and other local ventures in the 12 months before and after being awarded citizenship), he didn't make mention of his freshly-minted diplomatic status as a Kiwi.
News of this citizenship has caused waves in Wellington and abroad. Questions have been asked as to why he was granted "exceptional circumstances" dispensation, and shook up the National Business Review rankings by apparently claiming the title of third-richest New Zealander (worth $3.7b, according to Forbes).
In the United States, columns have sprouted asking whether his foreign citizenship harms his reported run as a Republican for Governor of California or contradicts his support for Trump's nationalist campaign.
Thiel, through representatives, has declined all requests for comment from New Zealand and international media this week. As has then-Internal Affairs Minister Guy, who would only say, in a brief statement issued late Tuesday, that he "couldn't recall" the application, but was advised he followed official advice on the matter.
Current Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne also drew a blank, claiming never to have heard of Thiel before news of his citizenship broke in the Herald earlier this week.
While politicians may have had trouble remembering him, in the United States Thiel has long been a major presence on the business pages and more recently on the national stage.
Thiel had been part of the wave of online entrepreneurs to survive the dotcom bubble collapse in the late 1990s. He founded online payments company Paypal in 1999, and sold it for tens of millions of dollars in 2002. He used the proceedings to kick-start a foray into venture capitalism.
His now-legendary Facebook play in 2004, investing less than $1m in the startup that turned into more than $1 billion by 2012, catapulted him from the ranks of merely rich to super-rich.
With wealth came profile, and the financial flexibility, to promote and resource libertarian causes close to his heart.
He invested in Seasteading, a movement promoting cities that float outside of the rule of nation-states, and expressed interest in research aiming to extend human lifespans.
The latter, particularly an academic interest in therapeutic blood transfusion, led to some particularly lurid headlines, as he recounted to the New York Times earlier this month.
"Out of all the crazy things in this campaign, the vampire accusations were the craziest," Thiel said.
The campaign he refers to was, of course, the United States presidential race, where Thiel was an early Trump backer.
His free-trade, zero-government views seem to jar with the populist candidate. However, he told the New York Times this month that he viewed Trump as an agent of creative destruction who could stimulate reform by shaking up the status quo.
Asked whether he rated the scandal-free tenure of outgoing President Barack Obama, Thiel said: "But there's a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring."
"They're likely to emerge from the back of the plane wearing a hoodie and asking where they can hire a mountain bike."
In some way his support for Trump represented another high-risk, high-reward investment.
Although he'd spoken at the Republican National Convention last June, his only financial contribution - $1.5m - to the campaign came days after the release of the infamous "grab 'em by the pussy" tape that led many commentators to write off Trump's chances.
With Trump's surprise victory in November, Thiel's early support was repaid with a place on the transition team and, reportedly, the offer of being the United States ambassador to Germany.
Former Minister of Research and Technology Wayne Mapp, who had known of Thiel's citizenship for years, noted as far back as 2013 that while Thiel's reputation made him exotic, he was hardly unique, and several ultra-rich tech magnates with a libertarian bent had developed attachments to New Zealand.
"There are quite a few who have exclusive hideaways in [the] Queenstown area and Bay of Islands," Mapp says.
While unwilling to name names, those who know of this unusual clique were willing to elaborate on their motivations and activities in New Zealand.
Mapp says Thiel, who he met in 2010 as part of a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise push to build better links with Silicon Valley, was "really engaging. And really interested in New Zealand. He was incredibly enthusiastic, like he'd cracked the secret of a good life."
Speaking more broadly of the Silicon Valley tourists, he says they're the sort to "visit New Zealand in their private jet and then bike around New Zealand as an expression of their oneness with nature. Work that one out if you can".
Real estate agent Graham Wall, who has brokered property purchases for Thiel, says he's met about 20 Silicon Valley tech industry billionaires in the past 10 years.
"They're likely to emerge from the back of the plane wearing a hoodie and asking where they can hire a mountain bike," the agent says.