The Bay Citizen does a little takedown of Halsey Minor quoting his friends as saying the Internet millionaire lives in a bubble of self-importance. A former partner says Minor “overpays and doesn’t do his due diligence.” The consistent pattern of his art purchases would give creedance to that statement. Here writer Elizabeth Stevens lists the buying jag Minor was on when Merrill Lynch took away his checkbook:
Mr. Minor said his trouble started in the fall of 2008, on the day Merrill Lynch & Company, in its own financial panic, froze his accounts and placed liens on much of his property to ensure repayment of a $25 million loan. “Merrill took away all my liquidity,” he said in an interview on Friday. “I couldn’t sell anything.”
Mr. Minor said he had assets worth $207 million in 2008, and they are worth $125 million now. “My death has been prematurely reported,” he said.
At the time his accounts were frozen, Mr. Minor was in the midst of a prodigious spending spree: $20 million for a Bel Air house; $22 million for Le Petit Trianon; $7 million for a failed luxury-hotel project in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Minor’s hometown; $25 million in bids for art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s; $15.3 million for a Virginia plantation; $6.3 million for two thoroughbred racehorses; a $3 million deposit on a now-canceled order for a top-of-the-line Gulfstream jet.
The fallout of Mr. Minor’s liquidity crisis has been brutal. In April, the State of California pilloried Mr. Minor and his second wife, Shannon, as the state’s top income-tax debtors, owing $13.1 million. He is trying to sell the Bel Air house for less than $9 million. He originally paid $20 million for it.
For a Mogul, Money and Magic Touch Have Limits (New York Times)