Antares, Part III

Greenwich Time concludes its reporting on the Antares Boyz today. It’s a nice compilation of things that many of us knew or had heard about already but put together in one convenient package. The most striking thing, perhaps, is how the Boyz got (temporarily) rich on “acquisition” and “management” fees without ever producing anything of value. There’s a totally politically incorrect expression for how the boy from the Bronx, Joe Beninati, acted when he found himself with cash buring a hole in his Brioni blazer’s pocket, but suffice it to say, he spent it with enthusiasm.

James Cabrera and Joseph Beninati made sure to reward themselves for their company’s apparent success. In return for a 25 percent stake, Antares quietly received $40 million in 2006 from NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., a New York City-based company specializing in the acquisition of real estate debt and real estate securities, a confidante of the two men said.

Cabrera and Beninati were each said to have been paid $10 million, with the latter spending his share on a condo in Aspen, Colo., called The Little Nell and a development site in the Hamptons. Cabrera, always the more conservative of the two, used the money to pay off his Greenwich house.

Among NorthStar’s principals were David Hamamoto, who started the Whitehall Funds real estate group at Goldman Sachs, and Edward Scheetz, chief executive officer of Morgans Hotel Group.

Scheetz would get into the news for all the wrong reasons in September 2007, when he found his 24-year-old “girlfriend,” Michelle Hatchel, a former tanning salon worker from Colorado, dead in his Turnberry Towers condo in Las Vegas.

“She’s stiff. She’s stiff, and she’s turning funny colors,” Scheetz, a married father of two from Greenwich, said in a panicked 911 call.

Hatchel’s death was ruled an accidental overdose from cocaine and oxycodone, and Scheetz was not charged with a crime. Still, he would eventually resign his executive post at the luxury hotel chain.

Then there’s this, concerning the New Mexico State pension fund, which is rather amusing, if you aren’t a New Mexico state pensioner:

In 2005, New Mexico started up a limited liability company with what is now NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., investing $55 million in taxpayer money that NorthStar infused into various real estate developments in its portfolio, including Antares, said Charles Wollmann, a spokesman for the State Investment Council.

“I do believe that investment went south,” Wollmann said.

New Mexico received a devastating $16 million capital return on its initial investment, which had seen its net asset value tank to $12.8 million as of the end of the first quarter of 2009, the most recent performance report available from the state.

“That’s not one that we’re happy with,” Wollmann said.

In summary, here’s a tip on selecting people to invest with: if the principals who want your money had to attend “13th grade” at Choate in order to get into college, and later boast that they “attended Choate” without disclosing that they were there as participants in Choate’s “Diploma for Rich Dummies” program, put a hand firmly on your wallet and run, do not walk, away from them.


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16 responses to “Antares, Part III

  1. Anonymous

    Yesterday was Part I. How do you jump to Part III and conclusion?

    • christopherfountain

      Yesterday was part II. I linked to Part I on Sunday but wasn’t all that excited about part II and figured interested readers could go to the GT web site themselves if they wanted to.

  2. Anonymous

    Quick due dili screen also reveals kids who are Harvard or Wharton alums b/c of affirmative action or a big trust fund; and see similar morons who later become GS/MS alums, usu in equity sales or corp fin, where IQ is superseded by “relationship” skills

  3. anon

    “The most striking thing, perhaps, is how the Boyz got (temporarily) rich on “acquisition” and “management” fees without ever producing anything of value.”

    I’ve got news for you, this is exactly how the private equity ponzi scheme operates too. It’s all about leverage, however, the timing was off for these guys.

  4. Cos Cobber

    Part III wrapped up strong with a bunch of nuggets I wasn’t aware of….such as their Vegas foray and their relationship with Mr Sheetz….another pathetic character.

  5. duff

    Appears these two have remained relatively financially in tact themselves while loosing millions upon millions of investors and lenders money.

    How they do that?

    • christopherfountain

      Duff, they each have $10 million lie3ns against their homes on Mooreland, arising out of a civil suit, and I imagine more suits are coming so I don’t think this is done yet. Like Walter, the rest is yet to come.

  6. duff

    Ah, that will take the spring out of their step, maybe.

    Unrelated, but interested to hear your comments on the letter to editor “revisit beach access” in today’s G.T

  7. Cos Cobber

    Regarding beach access, I don’t know what people want. People seem to want two competing access concepts; i) easy access for myself and my friends and ii) limited access for others.

    My personal experience has been until this year, people that “look the part” in Greenwich often were able to get in despite missing passes, etc. Meanwhile those who clearly are from town by virtue of the three beach stickers on their car, but do not “look the part,” did have more trouble when they forgot their pass. I’ve experienced this firsthand when entering with friends. Sad as it is, I don’t think the Bonilla incident from a few years back was unique. In light of how often Gwich is sued, I have concluded that I prefer a no excuses approach to beach access. Cards for all or forget it.
    In the past the gatehouse used their own discretion and did so with poor execution.

  8. Greenwich Gal

    Chris and others – what do you reasonably think the future holds for the “boyz?” We know Mr. Cabrera as a lacrosse coach and he seems like a nice guy – he certainly was a good coach. From the article it seems that perhaps Beninati was the dark lord here, maybe? Of course this does not in anyway mean that C. was not culpable…

  9. Choatie

    I am a regular four year Choate alumnus. When I was there, the 13th grade one year students were called “PG’s” (for post graduate students). As a rule they were super jocks, not so smart, there to shore up the football and hockey teams. One year when we played St. Paul’s at the traditional Christmas hockey game in NY at Madison Square Garden, the “PG’s” were so unruly the St. Paul’s coach said the Choate team was nothing but “bums and hooligans” off the streets. From the athletic fields to the financial field, nothing appears to have changed.

  10. Sound Beacher

    Hey CF: Any mention on hows the Greenwich Country Club membership is treating the Antares boys, now? Sort of like Round Hill Club and Walt? Orginally wasn’t the other Cabrera brother, Joe in partnership with Jim? Do tell what you know about that, isn’t he a broker here in town?

  11. duff

    Cos Cobber, the Bonilla incident a few years back, was due i’m pretty sure to arrogance and an attitude of entitlement leveled at the poor unfortunate attendant on duty that day. That you can take to the bank.

  12. Anonymous

    same PG class at Choate as Jime Himes?

  13. cos cobber

    Duff, That maybe the case with bonilla et al,
    but my experience remains firsthand that in
    prior years when I entered the park with
    diverse friends/family card enforcement was
    Much more stringent then when I came with others
    Who looked the preppy part (I’m a prepster, so I
    say that).

    So, in conclusion, I think if we are going to have
    Cards and live in a town which everyone loves to sue,
    Then we need no excuses card enforcement.

  14. PoeticJustice

    The scum has now been removed from the pool.

    Enjoy the water.