One Billionaire Bought A Rival’s Mansion (To Tear It Down And Build A Bigger One)
We asked readers which billionaire they’d like to have dinner with, adding that this dinner would give the billionaire non-lethal food poisoning. Several readers took offense at this idea. “If it’s non-lethal, what’s the point?” asked Tahoe N.
Jarod D. suggested the Koch brothers—even though one Koch brother is dead, noted Joshua R., because the corpse may distract from the meal’s poison. Courtney S. said Elon Musk, since a few days of diarrhea will keep him from impregnating people for at least a short while. Snazey B., deliberately misunderstanding the prompt, said he’d like to have Mark Zuckerberg for dinner, since younger prey have more tender meat.
If you enjoy fantasizing this way, then you’re sure to enjoy the following story, in which a millionaire totally gets owned. Here’s the bad news though: The person doing the owning is a billionaire. Also, it’s unclear if anyone really gets owned, when you think about it. Maybe the billionaire messes up and owns himself.
The millionaire is Jon Corzine, former head of Goldman Sachs. Corzine used to be richer than he is now, but he lost $300 million in his divorce and spent $100 million on political campaigns (he was the governor of New Jersey before Chris Christie and earlier a New Jersey senator). While he was with Goldman Sachs, he passed over the top trader, David Tepper, rather than make him partner. Tepper took this personally. Because it was personal; Corzine didn’t like Tepper's personality.
Tepper left Goldman, founded his own hedge fund, and became a billionaire. Then in 2015, he found a chance at getting revenge on Corzine.
Corzine and his wife Joanne Dougherty had lived in a Hamptons mansion, which they put a bunch of effort into building up. Tepper bought the mansion. Then he ... tore it down. So he could build another mansion, twice as big, in the same spot. If he’d been planning on building a mansion from scratch, he could have done so more cheaply on vacant land rather than by buying an existing mansion only to raze it, but Tepper really wanted to destroy Corzine’s legacy.
When Corzine and Joanne divorced in 2003, Joanne got the mansion, which was valued at $9 million. Tepper ended up paying $44 million for it, for the privilege of tearing it down. The news crushed Corzine, friends speculated. Or, well, maybe Corzine didn't care at all, and this was a very expensive empty gesture.
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