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When Your Investment Manager's Wife is Marie Antoinette Go Find Another Manager!
In an article in The Chicago Tribune a few weeks back, Laura Hodes addressed the problem of Barbara Amiel Black, the wife of Conrad Black who was recently convicted of looting The Chicago Sun Times.No, excuse me, he was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice.Ms. Hodes is concerned with the “Marie Antoinette syndrome” which is the reality or appearance of a powerful man dragged down by his free spending wife.Think Imelda Marcos and her thousands of shoes.Ms. Hodes quotes from a 2002 interview in Vogue where Mrs. Black says, “I have an extravagance that knows no bounds.”This was after she gave the Vogue writer a tour of her almost infinite closets.Much, much worse, Mrs. Black seems to have nothing but contempt for those who are poorer than she is, which, not incidentally, includes me.In an article in Slate, Christopher Hitchens notes that she had an extra toilet built into her private jet, at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars, so that she wouldn’t be, ah, inconvenienced by the flight crew using her toilet.Mr. Hitchens seems to believe that Mrs. Black would prefer it if the on-board help would use an outhouse.To be honest, I do not find the outhouse story completely convincing.But while I do not know if it is true in the case for Mrs. Black, there are others for whom this is definitely true.Think Barbara Bush on the upgraded accommodations for the Katrina refugees in Houston’s Astrodome.“…many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”
In the case against Conrad Black, the prosecution argued that Mr. Black looted The Chicago Sun Times in order to support Mrs. Black in the grand style.Based only on what I have read in the public papers, I believe the prosecution was right and Mr. Black was guilty.On the other hand, the jury wasn’t quite convinced and their opinion here is more important than mine or, quite frankly, the prosecutors.But even if Mr. Black didn’t commit those crimes, other men have committed far worse crimes for love.Think Macbeth.
I have never met an investment manager’s wife who was as nasty as Barbara Bush.I have never met Mrs. Black.My sample size here is, therefore, precisely zero.But I have met aristocratic managers, people who think your job is to provide them with golden trinkets and if you have to go broke so that they can have their next bauble, well, what else are you for?I wouldn’t put my money with an aristocratic investment manager or one who had an aristocrat for a wife under any but the most extreme circumstances.It wouldn’t be enough to put a gun to my head.But if the safety was off and the gun cocked, then maybe we’d talk
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"If your mother says she loves you, check it out." --Old reporters' motto; also our motto. Copyright (C) 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Fred Gehm. All rights reserved.