Daily Archives: August 22, 2009

At Long Last, Antares

Greenwich Time has finally published the Neil Vigdor article on Antares, our latest example of what happens to foolish people and their money in Greenwich. I’m linking to the Connecticut Post, which posts GT stories earlier than our local rag itself, I don’t know why and, though there’s no mention of more to come, surely there must be. This is just a snippet of the Boys’ pratfalls, hubris and greed and the best is, I hope, still to come. If you’ve passed by the empty, “fully leased at record rents” UST building lately, you’ll get the drift.

They built backcountry spec houses the size of big-box stores, sat behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, and partied like rock stars with black metal American Express cards.

But Antares Investment Partners had a darker side. The same alpha male executives who loved the trappings of superwealth also risked hundreds of millions in investors’ money on overleveraged, underperforming deals and tapped financiers who lined up to provide cash, never looking closely enough to see the cracks in the high-flying company’s facade.

“I said to myself, ‘This is going to end badly,'” said Matthew Allen, 37, an asset manager who worked for Antares from September 2006 until he was laid off in October 2007.

UPDATE: 10:15 AM: The story is now on the Greenwich Time website. It is, as readers said, intended to be a three-part series, so that should be fun. And this link has pictures and even a video of GT reporter Neil Vigdor having a “frank and fruitful discussion” (hey Walt, how’s that for the name of Fudrucker’s Disocount Real Estate?) with someone at “Lake Carrington”.

UPDATE II: from Brother Anthony:

The article states, “There was no real rhyme or reason to the choice of [of the name ‘Antares’]” but it was a prescient choice regardless. Antares, a bright star in the constellation Scorpio, is a red giant; vastly larger than our sun but with far lower density. Because of insufficient mass, red giants eventually implode and become white dwarfs. If there is a better metaphor for those Antares kidz I don’t know it.
Anthony Fountain

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Help wanted

Injured robber sought.

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That wasn’t me, it was my evil twin brother!

Finally, a factual tale to back up the alibi we’ve all used for years. Evil twin has sex with woman while pretending to be his brother. Uncovered, so to speak, when she noticed he lacked a tattoo on his buttock. Sheesh, it’s these simple things: serial numbers on breast implants, tattoos on the posterior. I’m finally appreciating the simplicity of my celibate life style.

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News from the propeller beanie set

Fuel from seawater! Er, just one problem:

Green Fuel

politics by seablogger

New Scientist has an article on a project to make jet fuel from sea water, using the dissolved CO2 and electrolyzed hydrogen. Here is an excerpt from the close:

“The idea of using CO2 as a carbon source is appealing,” says Philip Jessop, a chemist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

But to make a jet fuel that is properly “green”, the energy-intensive electrolysis that produces the hydrogen will need to use a carbon-neutral energy source; and the complex multi-step process will always consume significantly more energy than the fuel it produces could yield. In addition, each step in the process is likely to add cost and problems.

“It’s a lot more complicated than it at first looks,” Jessop says.

In other words, it’s completely cockamamie. But say the word “green” and government will throw money at a study, and possibly a prototype production facility, keeping many “scientists” happily employed — at the expense of people in productive jobs of the private sector.

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An inconvenient truth

Obama announces a $2 trillion dollar increase in our deficit on no-news Friday, then slips out of town. A search of the NYT fails to turn up any report of this development but if you want a new story of the U.S. picking on terrorists, yeah: they’ve got that!

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And why realtors hate panicked fools

The sun sets on the last southern outpost

The sun sets on the last southern outpost

So here’s the story: there’s a failed builder in town who has lost most of his projects to his lenders and now clings to his last house in Riverside where he squats with his family while waiting for the foreclosure process to have its way with him. His lenders come to him with a deal: he owes them $5.6 million – they will approve a short sale at $3.7 million and let him walk away from $1.8 million in debt. Good deal, right? So he agrees – if the bank will find him a buyer, he’ll move on.

The bank approaches us, we eventually find a ready, willing and able buyer and the builder then goes to work, trying to weasel a secret kick back. His crooked little mind can’t understand that other people don’t work the way he does. No lawyer or real estate agent will risk his license or personal liberty to assist someone in defrauding a bank. So no kick back. The builder grudgingly agrees, and our client spends several thousand dollars on building and septic inspections and lawyers fees and we spend days working on the deal until all is ready for a contract. But uh oh, the title report comes back and there is an additional $1.3 million in mortgages on the place that the builder “forget” to tell his banks about. Oh, and there are $80,000 in suppliers and IRS liens that have to be cleared up or he can’t deliver clear title.

Well, we can deal with $80,000 in liens, but $1.3 above that? It’s not going to happen and the deal falls apart. And you wonder at the thought process of such a man. He’s so used to scheming and wriggling out of trouble that he let the whole transaction proceed knowing that there was no way it could work. Had he told his primary creditors about those other mortgages, probably something could have been worked out but it’s too late now.

So the foreclosure will proceed and all the debts will come due: all $6,980,000.What does our builder do?  Turns out that four days ago he returned to his original listing broker, who tried selling the place for $6.5 in the height of the market and couldn’t, and has her list the property for sale, not on the Greenwich MLS where we might notice it and realize that he was dealing in bad faith with us as he pretended to negotiate, but on Trulia.com, for, get this, $5.495 million. How do you sell a property for $5.495 when you owe $6.980 on it? Knowing this guy, I’m sure he’s convinced that he’ll figure out a way.

So the property’s back on the market, awaiting another unwary buyer, and his listing agent and the agent for that buyer will waste their time going through the same process we just did. For nothing.

A lot of subcontractors of this man who were stiffed on jobs they performed for him were shedding no tears at his present discomfort. Nor do I; in fact, I look forward to increasing the level of that discomfort. In the meantime, if you hear of a Riverside listing for $5.495 million that sounds too good to be true, it is.

UPDATE: Sorry, I forgot about the deficiency judgement arising from another failed spec project that was also going to be forgiven. This house will have to sell for $8.3 million before its title is cleared. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

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