Friday, May 25, 2007

Have You Seen The Little Piggies?

What goes on in these peoples' minds? Bloomberg (05.24.07):
"Conrad Black, as chairman of Hollinger International Inc., lived a lifestyle so lavish that he needed two Park Avenue apartments -- one for his servants.

His wife, Barbara Amiel Black, had five separate closets for her evening gowns, $500 shoes and $7,000 handbags in their London townhouse."

Black's Gems, Servants on Park Avenue May Sour Jurors

"His chauffeur had a corporate American Express card he used to shop for the couple."

"Black, 62, and three co-defendants are charged with stealing $60 million from Hollinger. Prosecutors say the former chief executive officer treated the company as his personal 'piggy bank' from 1997 to 2003."

Purchases included "$2.6 million on a 26-carat diamond ring", and $604,000 for an "'antique pearl and diamond bow brooch.'" His wife says she "'found [she] really liked the stuff", and that after she married Conrad, "she 'vaulted into circles where, for some people, jewelry is a defining attribute, rather like your intelligence or the number of residences you have.'" Intelligence or number of residences?

Conrad also allegedly "billed Hollinger $1.4 million from 1997 to 2003 to pay the staff of his four homes, including an 11-bedroom townhouse in London, a Toronto mansion on 12 acres, an ocean-front estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and the Manhattan apartments."

Conrad's wife also spent about $2,000 for a custom-made briefcase. Guy at the briefcase store didn't see what the fuss was. "'If you wear a $2,000 or $3,000 suit, it just wouldn't look right if you were carrying a $350 briefcase, or even an $800 one.'"

The prosecutor in this case is Patrick Fitzgerald, late of the Scooter Libby matter. Patrick's dad "was a doorman at 14 East 75th St., 10 blocks north of Black's home." Patrick also worked as a doorman one summer, so he's seen a lot of guys like Conrad.

We bet Patrick's got a briefcase. We bet it cost him a hell of a lot less than $2,000.

A little perspective. As of 2005, $2,000 is more than the average annual income of a person living in Paraguay, Honduras, Bolivia or Nicaragua.



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