Even in Super-Wealthy Enclaves, Paul Manafort’s Spending Raises Some Eyebrows

Coldplay and Clocks, Benjamin Franklin, and Daylight Savings Time Connection
October 31, 2017
Style Q & A: The Roots’ Black Thought on Philadelphia Style. And His Beard.
November 1, 2017
Show all

Even in Super-Wealthy Enclaves, Paul Manafort’s Spending Raises Some Eyebrows

This post was originally published on this site
Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

WASHINGTON — Look closely enough, and the document charging Paul Manafort with money laundering, tax evasion and foreign lobbying reads less like a 12-count federal indictment and more like the ultimate spendthrift whodunit. It is the kind of tab that could raise the Botoxed eyebrows of Beverly Hills, New York and Washington, all places where dizzying displays of wealth are not abnormal but instead usually the price of admission.

Mr. Manafort, the Trump campaign’s former chairman and — at least for now — its most infamous shopper, spent millions on Range Rovers, landscaping, audiovisual equipment, home improvement and clothing, dispensing money thought to be paid through shell companies to a veritable alphabet soup of dozens of unnamed vendors, including Vendor C, an antique rug store — rugs? — in Alexandria, Va., that accrued $934,350, and Vendor H, a Beverly Hills clothing store that amassed $520,440.

It did not take long for reported names of the vendors to emerge.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

On Tuesday at House of Bijan, a Beverly Hills clothing store Mr. Manafort reportedly frequented, Nicolas Bijan said that President Trump had not made it in yet. Photos of the other presidents and powerful men who shopped there lined the walls: George W. Bush and his father, George Bush; Barack Obama; Bill Clinton, who was just there a few weeks ago; Bill Gates and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Was there a photograph of Mr. Manafort?

“No, unfortunately, not one of Mr. Manafort,” said Mr. Bijan, 26, the son of Bijan Pakzad, the store’s founder. With a sly smile, he would not say whether Mr. Manafort had been a client.

“There is nothing I can comment regarding that, but I would love to show you why we are so expensive and what it is what we do,” he said opening a closet to reveal a display of brightly colored suits, ties, sports jackets, vases of fresh flowers and a few green apples to mark the season. For the establishment’s bargain shoppers, he recommended the tie-and-handkerchief sets, priced at about $950.

The amount Mr. Manafort is said to have spent on clothing at a store in New York — $849,000 between 2008 and 2014 — earned a fair amount of mockery and disbelief online. But at least one luxury retailer on Madison Avenue said that amount spread over six years — an average of $141,500 per year — amounts to a large but not unprecedented annual outlay for a shopper of the 1 percent interested in luxury tailoring and clothes.

“The fact of the matter is, we have many brand enthusiasts who love the made-to-measure process and regularly spend over $100,000 a year with us,” said Sarrah Candee, the senior director of global marketing and public relations for Isaia, the Neapolitan luxury brand, whose suits, most of which sell for $4,000 to $5,000, are a mark of pride among the sartorially conscious. (With their slim-shouldered silhouettes, they are more rakish than the power suits Mr. Manafort prefers.)

Ms. Candee said that Mr. Manafort had not, to her knowledge, been a client, but others who worked with him did not assess his style as discerning. Alan Flusser, the New York-based men’s wear designer and author, said that Mr. Manafort had first been brought to him through Roger J. Stone Jr., an ally of Mr. Trump’s, in the 1980s.

Mr. Flusser said Mr. Manafort “was more into the Michael Douglas-Gordon Gekko imagery than the Brooks Brothers, inside-the-Beltway, button-down look.”

“He was a little flashier,” Mr. Flusser said, “trying to project an aura of power and success.”

Jay Fielden, the editor of Esquire, said Mr. Manafort’s fondness for House of Bijan reminded him of somewhat edgier pop culture figures. “It’s like he watched ‘Goodfellas’ and then found a tailor who could update that particular kind of sartorial razzle-dazzle,” Mr. Fielden said. “You see a guy like that coming at you and you know he’s either going to shoot you or sell you something.”

Document | Read the Charges Against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was indicted on charges including conspiracy, money laundering and other charges. Mr. Manafort’s business associate, Rick Gates, was also charged.

Reports of Mr. Manafort’s spending made their way to Alexandria, where shopkeepers on Tuesday flitted from store to store to share gossip. Nabi Nasseri, who owns Art Underfoot, an antique rug gallery, said he had never worked with Mr. Manafort. He was not, he said, Vendor C.

Mr. Nasseri said that his shop, which is filled floor to ceiling with about 1,000 silk and woolen rugs, some with prices up to $8,900, could not come close to clearing the price listed in the indictment.

“I’d have a lot more money if he had been” a customer, Mr. Nasseri said.

Across the street, at J&J Oriental Rugs, Joseph Nabatkhorian, the shop’s co-owner, was less welcoming: “I can’t talk about that,” Mr. Nabatkhorian said when asked whether Mr. Manafort had been a client.

Madeleine Mitchell, the gallery director for Doris Leslie Blau Antique Rugs, buys and designs high-end rugs for embassies and hotels. She was skeptical that the rugs were bought purely for show and not to hide money in an expensive item that would grow in value.

“None of my clients would spend $900,000 on rugs,” Ms. Mitchell added, “and they have all the money in the world.”

In the Hamptons, Mr. Manafort’s spending sent mixed signals to real estate observers. Since the early 1990s, a two-plus-acre plot at 174 Jobs Lane in Bridgehampton has belonged to the Manafort family, with a full-size tennis court, half a basketball court, a 720-square-foot outdoor pool, a hot tub and an outdoor pool house.

Diane Saatchi, a broker at Saunders & Associates, one of the bigger real estate firms in the Hamptons, said that a pool house renovation in 2015 and 2016, priced at $420,000, was “a lot of money for a pool house.”

Of the $800,000 landscaping tab, Ms. Saatchi said that the house did not seem “like a manicured property.”

“He could’ve spent that,” Ms. Saatchi said, “but close to $200,000 a year seems expensive given the size and style. I’m going to take a wild guess that if he paid that much just to maintain the landscape, he was overcharged.”

Other expenditures seemed in line with what people pay in the area. Perry Guillot, a prominent landscape architect in Southampton, said he was not surprised to hear that the complaint described the Manaforts’ $112,000 in audio and video installation costs.

“That doesn’t get you a home theater with lean-back leather seats, a great projector and a popcorn machine,” Mr. Guillot said. “If we’re trying to put him up with the hedge fund guys, those numbers don’t match that story.”

In November 2016, ownership of the Manafort property in the Hamptons was transferred to Sun Breeze L.L.C. Scott Segal, a real estate lawyer based in Manhattan, said there were a few reasons someone might choose to take that step.

One reason, Mr. Segal said, is that “it’s a way of limiting his liability to the asset.”

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.

Comments are closed.