Financiers Fight Over the American Dream. One day in the summer of 2011, Christine Richard arrived at the forty-second floor of a high-rise on Fifty-seventh Street in Manhattan to visit a hedge fund called Pershing Square Capital Management. Richard worked for a boutique research firm that identified “short” opportunities—companies that investors could profitably bet against—and she was there to present an idea to Pershing Square’s founder, William Ackman. On the way over, though, she was caught in a rainstorm, and by the time a receptionist directed her to a conference room she realized that she was dripping wet. A few minutes past the appointed time, Ackman rushed into the conference room, trailed by an assistant who was listing a series of meetings for that day.
Ackman couldn’t stay, so he summoned one of his most trusted analysts, a twenty-eight-year-old red-headed Texan named Shane Dinneen, to sit down with Richard. Pershing Square is what’s called an “activist” hedge fund. She called Ackman. The crowd roared (“Yeah! 2017/01 [guardian] The big-eyed children: the extraordinary story of an epic art fraud | Art and design. There’s a sweet, small suburban house in the vineyards of Napa, northern California. Inside, a family of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses bustles around, offering me a cheese plate. A Siamese cat weaves in and out of my legs. Everything is lovely.
Sitting unobtrusively in the corner is 87-year-old Margaret Keane. “Would you like some macadamia nuts?” She asks. She hands me Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets too. This story begins in Berlin in 1946. Fifteen years later and Keane was an art sensation. Walter himself was not a melancholic man. “No,” I said. This conversation apparently took place at an outdoor art exhibition in San Francisco in 1955. Margaret’s memory of their first meeting is quite different. The centre of Walter’s universe in the mid-1950s was a San Francisco beatnik club, The Hungry i. “He had me sitting in a corner,” she tells me, “and he was over there, talking, selling paintings, when somebody walked over to me and said: ‘Do you paint too?’ He was. Margaret was furious.
2014/11 [guardian] Big Eyes review – Tim Burton’s art fraud film is a slow-burn study of abuse | Film. The irony of Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s film about the authorial stamp on a work of art, is that it is nearly bereft of what makes Burton’s work so recognisable. The deeper implications of this are a matter for Burton and his shrink, but for us in the audience it’s a welcome recharge from a man whose last picture, Frankenweenie, was merely a longer version of one of his earlier projects. Big Eyes reteams Burton with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who collaborated on the (dare I use the M-word?)
Masterpiece Ed Wood. Both films are about a misunderstood artist, but the similarities end there. The new film tells the strange but true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), a divorcee who arrives with her young daughter in San Francisco in the late 1950s. She’s a bit of a mystery – women simply didn’t just up and leave their husbands back then – but she takes great pride in her paintings. Tim Burton’s usual visual language peeks through sparingly. 2016/11 [Vanity Fair] How Sarma Melngailis, Queen of Vegan Cuisine, Became a Runaway Fugitiv. Focus on the dog. By the time police arrested Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis on May 10 of this year on fugitive-from-justice warrants at a Tennessee hotel, where they’d been holed up for 40 days and 40 nights, this is how insane their marriage had become: Melngailis, 43, the radiantly blonde poster woman for vegan living, a Manhattan restaurateur, and a Wharton graduate, says she had come to believe—really, really believe—that her pit bull, Leon, was on the cusp of being made immortal.
This Lazarus-ian feat, and more, would be accomplished by her husband, Strangis, 35, a gambler with a criminal past she’d met on Twitter five years earlier. The two were accused by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office of draining Melngailis’s 12-year-old raw-vegan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, of nearly $2 million, stiffing employees, duping investors, going on the lam, and spending lavishly on hotels, watches, and casinos.
It was a severe comedown. The arrest was a cold wake-up. Mr. and Mrs. Missing man’s Facebook account suddenly comes alive, terrifying family. Charlie Carver and Kala Brown didn’t show up to dinner on Aug. 31. It seemed odd. The South Carolina couple had just moved together into a house in Anderson, and Brown was excited to show off her new live-in beau to her friend, Lindsey Mayson. “That’s what that Thursday night was supposed to be about,” Mayson told the Daily Beast. “It was meeting them and having dinner with them and getting to know each other.” But that never happened. Standing up one friend for dinner, while rude, could have been an isolated incident. They were just . . . gone. “It’s like you have a hot skillet, and they are two drops of water you put on it.
When the concerned friends and family tried calling the couple, their phones were off. Some thought they could have fled town on an impromptu vacation, as the couple’s 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix, sporting an LSU vanity plate on the front bumper and an LSU decal on the back windshield, was missing. But that didn’t quite make sense. Anderson police Lt. Someone Is Pretending to Be This Missing Couple on Facebook. Ever since Charlie Carver and Kala Brown vanished, someone has been adding life events on Facebook and even messaging his friends. Could it be his ex-wife? Charlie Carver’s Facebook page tells the story of a man in love.
On July 1, Carver posted that he and his girlfriend were expecting a daughter. On Aug. 1 they bought a house, and on Sept. 1 they were married. That’s what horrifies Carver’s friends and family. All the happy new milestones on his timeline were logged retroactively on Oct. 1, more than a month after he and his girlfriend Kala Brown disappeared. Carver, 32, and Brown, 30, went missing from their Anderson, South Carolina, apartment on Aug. 31. “I wish I could tell them to stop,” Carver’s younger sister Katie told The Daily Beast of the Facebook posts, her voice breaking. Last week someone posing as Carver uploaded and deleted an old picture of the couple, Brown’s best friend Lindsey Mayson told The Daily Beast. “That dog is her baby,” Kala’s mother told NBC News. Thank You! 2016/11 [The Pinch] My Murderer's Futon - Sarah Viren The Pinch. Winner Of The 2014 Pinch Literary Award In Nonfiction - Also appearing in issue 35.1 Spring 2015 The futon was cheaply made.
The faux-brass knobs accenting its armrests were loose, and its lacquered wood finish had begun to chip away. Its metal ribcage pushed through a thin white futon mattress, kneading my back while I slept at night. In the morning, I would wake to the slightest stench of mildew from the cushioning by my head. Lying there, I wondered if he, too, had been bothered by the smell. Beside the futon, I kept his alarm clock. Robert Durst is not a murderer, legally speaking. Then one September afternoon in 2001, a father and son were fishing in Galveston Bay when they happened upon the dismembered torso of a man in a garbage bag. Police claimed Durst had been living in Galveston, Texas, disguised as a woman, while hiding out from officers in California who wanted to question him about another murder: the shooting of his best friend Susan Berman on Christmas Eve of 2000.
2016/09 [buzzfeed] To Solve JonBenét Ramsey’s Murder. 2016/09 [NYmag] The Sandy Hook Hoax. On December 14, 2012, Lenny Pozner dropped off his three children, Sophia, Arielle, and Noah, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Noah had recently turned 6, and on the drive over they listened to his favorite song, “Gangnam Style,” for what turned out to be the last time. Several hours later, while Sophia and Arielle hid nearby, Adam Lanza walked into Noah’s first-grade class with an AR-15 rifle. Noah was the youngest of the 20 children and seven adults killed in one of the deadliest shootings in American history. When the medical examiner found Noah lying face up in a Batman sweatshirt, his jaw had been blown off.
Lenny and his wife, Veronique, raced to the school as soon as they heard the news, but had to wait for hours alongside other parents to learn their son’s fate. It didn’t take much longer for Pozner to find out that many people didn’t believe his son had died or even that he had lived at all. Cuz my son is dead and it doesnt matter I gotta play, too!”
2016/09 [Vanityfair] Exclusive: How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down. After he wrapped up, the leaders of Theranos stood before their employees and surveyed the room. Then a chant erupted. “Fuck you . . .,” employees began yelling in unison, “Carreyrou.” It began to grow louder still. “Fuck you, Carreyrou!” In Silicon Valley, every company has an origin story—a fable, often slightly embellished, that humanizes its mission for the purpose of winning over investors, the press, and, if it ever gets to that point, customers, too. It generally works like this: the venture capitalists (who are mostly white men) don’t really know what they’re doing with any certainty—it’s impossible, after all, to truly predict the next big thing—so they bet a little bit on every company that they can with the hope that one of them hits it big.
When Elizabeth Holmes emerged on the tech scene, around 2003, she had a preternaturally good story. Holmes had indeed mastered the Silicon Valley game. Holmes’s real story, however, was a little more complicated. 2016/05 [Vanityfair] The Secret Culprit in the Theranos Mess. Over the past few years, when media outlets reached out to Theranos about whether its wunderkind founder, Elizabeth Holmes, would have time to sit for an interview, her P.R. team generally responded with two questions: What time and where?
Holmes was a star. She bounced between TV networks like a politician giving a stump speech. She sat across from tech bloggers, reporters, and TV cameras who slurped up her delectable story—that she had come up with Theranos, her blood-testing company, as a Stanford freshman who was fearful of needles—and they largely regurgitated it, sometimes beat for beat. Yet in April of 2015, when John Carreyrou, an investigative reporter with The Wall Street Journal, reached out for an interview with Holmes, he said he got a very different response. After two months of being stonewalled by the Theranos P.R. team, Carreyrou told me an entourage of lawyers arrived at the Journal’s Midtown Manhattan offices at one P.M. on June 23.
2016/08 [NYtimes] Rape, Race and the Jogger. The boys accused of assaulting Ms. Meili — Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana, Jr. — were convicted on the strength of contradictory confessions coerced under duress. After an incarcerated serial rapist named Matias Reyes eventually confessed to the crime more than a decade later, a claim confirmed by DNA evidence, their convictions were vacated in 2002. In the early pages of her 2003 memoir, “I Am the Central Park Jogger,” a moving account of her recovery, Ms. Meili resists the standard first-person and refers to herself as “the jogger” instead: “It is astonishing that the Jogger is alive,” she writes about her own body, found in the woods north of the 102nd Street transverse, where she was hypothermic and barely breathing, gagged with a white shirt soaked red. She had lost 75 percent of her blood. The lead prosecutor in her case was a jogger as well: Elizabeth Lederer, a white woman in her 30s who ran the same Central Park trails as Ms.
Ms. 2016/05 [nypost] The downfall of NYC’s hottest vegan - Sarma Melngailis allegedly stole $2 million from her popular vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine. Sarma Melngailis had it all: an Ivy League degree, model looks and a hot vegan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy, beloved by Alec Baldwin and Bill Clinton. Now, she’s got a mug shot, a $350,000 bail and husband Anthony Strangis: an alleged gambling addict with a criminal past and an 11-year-old child he hasn’t seen in over a decade. “It’s the worst nightmare you can think of,” Melngailis revealed to The Post in an exclusive jailhouse interview Saturday morning at Rikers.
“If I had terminal cancer, it would be better than this, because at least [then] I did not cause it.” For the past 10 months, Melngailis and Strangis had been on the lam after allegedly stealing nearly $2 million from her trendy “raw organic” restaurant — blowing $1.2 million at Connecticut casinos. The 43-year-old restaurateur and Strangis, 35, were arrested last week at a $99-a-night Fairfield Inn & Suites in Sevierville, Tenn., after a delivery of unorganic Domino’s outed them. “He’s a sociopath. 2014/10 [Matter] The Rules of Engagement – Medium #sex worker. Big City, Big Money I didn’t travel much for work, unless it was with a client, but girls I know who went on tour told me that New York City is the best place to be an escort. The men there are ready to play a lot, and to pay more. When a girl travels to a place like Denver, it’s just a different economy, and the guys can’t afford as much.
My friends tell me DC is great, because of all the politicians and money. Detroit, no way: Nothing to do there when you’re not working, and no one can pay there these days anyway. Some men only want to fuck escorts who are visiting, so they know they’ll never run into them on the street when they’re with their wife and family. The advantage to going to other cities is that there are guys there who see an escort is visiting from New York, and maybe they look at all her ads and see she has reduced her price for wherever they live, so they think they’re getting a great bargain.
Listening Is Not Easy My clients would tell me “funny” stories of their life. 2014/08 [Matter] You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now? – Medium. Adam was at his desk in the second-story bedroom of his family’s suburban home when he came across it. He had recently switched file-sharing programs to one that offered more content and faster browsing, and his downloading habit had increased in kind.
There was now a constant stream of files whose names included acronyms such as PTHC, or pre-teen hardcore. The boy in this video was fair-haired and looked to be about one and a half, his small, naked body tied up to restrict movement. A man’s torso entered the frame and the child began to scream. As he watched the scene unfold, Adam was transfixed, and then quickly revolted; he reached over and stopped the video. He moved over to his bed, a twin with a sturdy, wooden frame, and lay down on the crumpled blue and white cloud-print sheet. Seeing that toddler trussed up and in pain confirmed something he’d long suspected but now had to acknowledge.
I spoke with experts and asked around online. “My name is Adam,” it read. Dr. So fucking awful. 2010/12 [wired] The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist. At 2:28 pm on August 28, 2003, a middle-aged pizza deliveryman named Brian Wells walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had a short cane in his right hand and a strange bulge under the collar of his T-shirt. Wells, 46 and balding, passed the teller a note.
“Gather employees with access codes to vault and work fast to fill bag with $250,000,” it said. “You have only 15 minutes.” Wells told the troopers that while out on a delivery he had been accosted by a group of black men who chained the bomb around his neck at gunpoint and forced him to rob the bank. “Did you call my boss?” The police began sorting through a trove of physical evidence. The most perplexing and intriguing pieces of evidence, though, were the handwritten notes that investigators found inside Wells’ car. In the frantic hours after Wells was killed, the cops tried completing the hunt themselves. Wells’ clothing added another layer of intrigue. That was just one of the questions that perplexed investigators.
[long reads] The Art of the Con: Four Stories About Scams : Longreads Blog.