Behind every executive hiding or disposing of assets in advance of creditors and litigators knocking on the door is either a brilliant tax attorney earning a truly hefty fee or a future inmate at a minimum security facility.
This seemed to be a more insightful take on the disposal (sale) of Fuld’s reported $13 million home to his wife from the Time.com blog:
We knew the housing market was bad, especially in Florida, but you’d still think Dick Fuld would be able to get more than a hundred bucks for a house that cost him and his wife $13.75 million less than five years ago.
On Friday, Cityfile.com, a web site that bills itself as “a guide to the most notable and influential New Yorkers,” pointed out that back in November, while the collapse of Lehman Brothers was still reverberating throughout the world of finance, ex-CEO Fuld made time to transfer his Jupiter Island mansion into his wife’s name.
Today, the New York Times speculates about the nefariousness at play (though oddly gets the price of the house wrong):
It is possible that he is now transferring properties because of his fears of investor lawsuits or a possible bankruptcy, lawyers in Florida said.
“This is the oldest trick in the books” said Eric S. Ruff, a lawyer with Ruff & Cohen in Gainesville, Fla. “It’s common when you hear the feet of your creditors approaching to divest yourself.”
And then Bloomberg explains that, chances are, his wife didn’t even pay the $100:
“This is not a true sale,” said Laurie Delong, a customer service representative in the Martin County assessor’s office. “He more than likely quit-claimed this property over to her. That’s an instrument used when there’s no money involved.” Such transactions are typically done between family members for estate planning purposes or in the case of a divorce, she said.
The good news, for anyone in the market to buy a Florida get-away, is that there’s a house just down the road from the Fulds’ for sale. You can check out the full specs of the 5-bedroom spread here (in addition to the pool cabana, media room and elevator, it comes with “garages for three cars and a golf cart”). The asking price is $19.9 million, but now that we know what other places in the neighborhood are going for, maybe there’s room to negotiate.
Dick Fuld’s $100 house
Barbara Kiviat, Time.com, January 26, 2009