Skip to comments.That's Rich (Secretive Mark Rich, pardoned by Clinton, suddenly being very public at swanky parties)
Posted on 08/11/2008 12:14:36 PM PDT by Stoat
Few recognised the avuncular American chuckling with Naomi Campbell at one of the summer's most spectacular parties in St Tropez. Tanned, sporting an unbuttoned cerise silk shirt, he seemed perfectly at ease among the guests aboard the motor yacht Lady Joy where Ivana Trump, Joan Collins and 500 or so others partied to a Moulin Rouge theme. Some may have wondered why certain guests seemed to hold the affable American in such awe. He certainly seemed to be someone rather special - but who was he?
They could be forgiven for not knowing. This was Marc Rich, one of the world's most secretive billionaires. Despite a vast business empire and a fortune that places him in the front rank of the super-rich, he has led his life away from public view. Screened by bodyguards and a wall of corporate discretion, he has been barely visible to the world at large. Until now.
Rich, in his early seventies, has emerged from the shadows, quitting his fortress-like home above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland to spend a summer in the jet-set haunts of the Mediterranean. After years of enforced exile from his home in America, the elusive Rich - who once dodged US marshals sent to arrest him - has suddenly gone very public.
A few nights ago, the Evening Standard has learned, he squired Carmen "Tita" Cervera, Baroness Thyssen, to a party in Marbella, thrown by the Swiss jewellery company, Chopard. Like the St Tropez party, it was another highly visible event, with Israeli model Bar Rafaeli (sans boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio) performing eye-catching moves on the dance-floor.
Rich may be a little old for that, but in his own way he is no less a sensation. Witness the allegation that he succeeded in buying a presidential pardon on the very day Bill Clinton left office. The charge - which both he and President Clinton reject utterly - turns on a gift of several hundred thousand dollars made by Rich's former wife, Denise.
Denise Rich, a woman of rare glamour and vivacity, is at the heart of this story. Her role in her former husband's life - even after their divorce - has been crucial. Intriguingly, it was at her party, aboard the Lady Joy three weeks ago that the world got the first glimpse it has had of Marc Rich for quite some time.
His house, in Meggen, Switzerland, is his stronghold. Surrounded by an art collection said to have few equals - Picasso, Van Gogh and Miró are his favourites - he has, for nearly a quarter of a century, remained out of sight.
The rambling mansion set behind high walls is rumoured to have a network of secret tunnels and Rich employs an impressive corps of security people. They accompany him on his forays to Zug, the Alpine town where a population of 24,000 residents shares space with the offices of 10,000 registered companies. Rich has offices here, in a coloured glass tower that lends Zug a touch of downtown Dallas. Unlike the Texas oil town, however, Zug is noted for its hushed discretion. Some would say secrecy.
RICH set up here in 1975 with his long-term business partner Pincus "Pinky" Green. Rich was the dealmaker with a phenomenal knowledge of the commodities market. Green was the logistics expert who was so good at making sure the ships arrived on time he was nicknamed The Admiral.
Together, they dealt in anything the industrialised world needed, especially metal and oil. Rich made first-class contacts with the Shah of Iran's export operation and began buying huge quantities of oil. By 1976 his pre-tax profits were $367 million. By selling wherever he could get the best price, Rich virtually created the world's spot market in oil. When the Shah was deposed, Rich carried on trading with the mullahs. This was when his problems began.
Investigators in the United States claimed Rich's company was dealing with Iran during the US hostage crisis, when the country was considered an international pariah. They also believed he was dealing with other rogue states, including North Korea and Colonel Gaddafi's Libya.
In 1983 US Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, a future mayor of New York, drew up an indictment charging Rich with illegal oil trading and tax evasion. Before he could be arrested, Rich left his $10 million apartment on Park Avenue and boarded his private jet, bound for Europe. He already had a base in Zug and Switzerland was to become his home and centre of operations for the next 25 years.
It was not a wholly unpleasant exile. Rich was born in Antwerp and was taken to the United States at the age of 12 when his parents escaped the Nazis. He was already fluent in French and had no difficulty with German.
His beautiful wife Denise, with whom he had three daughters, embraced their new life in Europe. She is a highly successful songwriter and wealthy in her own right. While Rich is described as manipulative and occasionally ruthless, Denise is said to have an endearing naïveté.
"She has a childlike demeanour," said Patti LaBelle, a friend and one of a number of artists who have had hits with Denise's songs. In Switzerland, Denise learned languages, delighted in the cultural opportunities of Europe's great cities and took a deep interest in the family collection.
Then she noticed her husband was taking an interest in a statuesque blonde called Gisela Rossi, a widow who was almost 20 years younger than him.
Rich and Gisela would spend long hours together on the ski slopes - he is an expert skier and formidable tennis player - and 10 years after beginning her new life in Switzerland, Denise saw it crumbling around her. She and Rich were divorced amid sulphurous acrimony. Denise moved back to New York with her three daughters andmade her home in a 28-room, three-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue with a view of Central Park. She also has a large house in The Hamptons and gossip columnists refer to the 160ft Lady Joy as her yacht.
There was a report that she received $300 million in her divorce settlement. Another suggested she got $200 million. Neither has been confirmed. Whatever the figure, it was not enough for her to forgive Rich, at least for a while.
As Denise consolidated her reputation as one of New York's leading socialites - her St Tropez party became an annual affair and a very hot ticket - she was approached by a Washington lawyer called Jack Quinn.
Quinn had worked for the Clintons and had been engaged by Marc Rich's people, it was later revealed, to try to secure Rich a presidential pardon. It was 2000 and Bill Clinton was due to leave office the following January. Quinn asked Denise if she would help put Rich's case to the Clintons.
According to sources in Washington, Denise refused three times. Why should she help her ex-husband? She loathed him. Then she agreed. It is now generally accepted that she approached Hillary Clinton through her close friend Beth Dozoretz, a hugely wealthy socialite who had given more than £1 million to the Democrats. Bill Clinton was godfather to Beth's daughter. Denise implored the president to pardon her husband. She also sent a cheque for $450,000 to his legacy project, the Clinton Library.
In January 2001, a few hours before leaving the White House, Clinton issued the pardon. He later justified his decision, saying he was concerned about the "criminalisation" of charges against Rich and his partner Green, suggesting the government might do better to pursue its claims in the civil courts. His commentary can be found, in full, on Marc Rich's company website.
Clinton's denial that there had been any quid pro quo did nothing to quell talk of a scandal. A Senate inquiry was launched but when Denise and her friend Beth Dozoretz took the Fifth Amendment - which shields them from giving evidence that might incriminate them - it didn't go very far.
For many fascinated by the affair, the most interesting question was not whether Denise had bought her former husband a pardon, but why? It was well known that she despised him after the break-up of their marriage. There were suggestions that he made a significant improvement to her divorce settlement. Then another explanation emerged, from Denise herself.
Despite a lifelong practice of keeping the press at arm's length, she gave an interview to Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth. When Orth was asked on television whether the presidential pardon had been a financial deal, Denise, she said, had been guided by her late daughter Gabriella, who died of leukaemia in 1996, aged 27.
"She's a New Age devotee," Orth said. "She thinks that her daughter is up in heaven as an angel speaking to her directly. That's how she gets the music lyrics for the songs that she writes. She absolutely denied any sort of quid pro quo. She doesn't need any more money from Marc. She has plenty of her own, which is true."
ASKED why she thought Clinton granted the pardon, Orth replied: "You know, he was going to do it for Denise, who was his dear friend, who had this fabulous apartment where they could have all these parties and fund-raisers for himself and Hillary in their new home state of New York.
"Plus, she had really come through for them so much. She had given money and furniture to their house in Chappaqua. There were a number of reasons."
Murmurings on Capitol Hill suggested Rich's powerful Israeli friends also gave their weight to the argument for a pardon. He has been a major donor to Israeli and Jewish charities for years. The internet is abuzz with stories - impossible to prove - that he was also an unpaid agent for Mossad, the Israeli secret service. Certainly, with his contacts in the Middle East and Russia he could have been very useful if he had wanted to be.
Whatever the reality, it was acknowledged that former prime minister Ehud Barak was among powerful figures who asked Clinton to grant the pardon.
It did not presage a triumphant return to America, however. Rich remained in Switzerland, largely unseen, selling off parts of his business and concentrating more and more on his charitable foundations. And he remained reconciled to Denise. She invited him to her St Tropez party and he seemed very much tp enjoy it. After long years in the fastness of his Lake Lucerne eyrie, he would, wouldn't he?
So,Denise,tell everbody that Bill’s was this big!
Pinky” Green. Rich was the dealmaker with a phenomenal knowledge of the commodities market.
I think it’s inside trading.
“Denise Rich, a woman of rare glamour and vivacity,... “
Man, is the writer so far up the Rich’s you-know-what’s! If I had Mark Rich’s money, I’d be of rare glamour and vivacity, too.
Of course, the prospect of an invitation to one of the Rich's parties as a thank you for such a flattering article would never cross the mind of a truly professional Journalist.
“Of course, the prospect of an invitation to one of the Rich’s parties as a thank you for such a flattering article would never cross the mind of a truly professional Journalist.”
He best wipe his nose first.
Sometimes crime pays.
Just one of my reasons why the Clintons should never be let back into the White House.
Indeed it does, and quite handsomely.
Reading this caused me to think of a simple prayer:
Thank you Lord for giving me this station in life. My friends are often ones with grease and dirt under their nails or sawdust on their clothes when they come home after work but they know how to do valuable things.
They keep the economy going, they fix things, they are truly artists in their own right, they make life pleasant and convenient for those that cannot do anything but shuffle papers and use the pen for theft. They are knowledgeable about the details of the last football or baseball games but lying politicos irritate them and philosophy is a puzzle.
They don’t read many books, mostly hunting and fishing magazines; a car, truck or hot-rod mag thrown in too but are long on common-sense and honesty, they have a strong work ethic and are dedicated to their families. They respect their parents and check on them as they become aged and teach their children the same.
I’ve learned so much from them, I am truly blessed, thank you so much, you knew better after all...
As to your reference to some friends having perhaps a limited knowledge, at least in the grand scheme of things, I would wish to politely suggest that many of these super-rich 'celebrities' will quite likely have considerably less knowledge and education than the folks you mention. A case in point pertaining to people mentioned in the article:
Crawford graduated from DeKalb High School in 1984, as valedictorian  with a 4.0 GPA. She won an academic scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University, which she attended for only one quarter. She dropped out in order to pursue a full-time modeling career. After working for photographer Victor Skrebneski in Chicago, Cindy moved to Manhattan in 1986.
I have no reason to believe that a conversation with Naomi Campbell would be the least bit interesting or informative in any sort of a relevant way, and I would have no desire to meet her. While Naomi may indeed be among the bottom intellectual tier of the 'celebrity' names mentioned and possibly not representative of all, many others are diminished in my view simply by their desire to be associated with Mark Rich, as their personal integrity is naturally called into question. How enjoyable could it be to associate oneself with a man who cannot enter the greatest country that Earth has ever known because he is terrified of being detained for questioning and possibly arrested? Given that we all have been granted only a short time in this life, I would consider it far more worthy of my time to associate with the folks that you mention rather than many of those mentioned in this article.