Thursday, October 10, 2019

Isn't that the bird that rises from the ashes?


    What the public remembers and what actually happened can be two very different things.
    When I wrote Monday's column about the former Museum of Science and Industry renaming itself in honor of billionaire Ken Griffin, in return for $125 million, I focused on the futility of naming institutions after oneself, grasping at the will-o-wisp of mortality that eludes you no matter how many plaques are forged. I didn't raise the issue of whether Griffin is a good or bad guy because, frankly, I didn't know. While you typically can't go wrong assuming a rich guy is also a selfish jerk, there are exceptions, and I had plenty to chew on without considering that aspect.
     That didn't keep readers from weighing in, some damning him for ego, others lauding him because he did a generous thing. And then there was this:
Dear Neil, in your column about Ken Griffin's largesse in donating a small part of his vast fortune to the Museum of Science and Industry in order to preserve his legacy you neglected to mention how he fought his wife tooth and nail in Court in order to deprive her of maintenance and child support for herself and their children. Poor thing—he could hardly afford to be a gentleman not to mention a good provider for his family. Now he is trying to rehabilitate his tarnished image. No good. Ken. You are a cad and always will be. Print this, Neil. Mary Lusak. P.S. I think the Museum of Science and Industry is a big bore too

     Normally her curt "Print this, Neil" would have turned me off. I am not a short-order cook. I don't take orders. But that did spark a hazy recollection: something about child support. Did I overlook a significant aspect to this story? Endowing a museum while his own children sell matches in the street? If that is the situation, then elaboration is called for. 
     But it wasn't. Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, divorced in 2015. Support was never the issue, since she was already rich herself, having started a hedge fund before meeting Griffin, and had already received $40 million from him. What flashed in the public eye, and my reader was recalling, though distorted, if not completely inverted, was that Griffin's soon-to-be ex-wife was asking for $1 million a month in child support for their three children, a figure which included $300,000 for private jets, $160,000 for vacations and $2,000 for stationery.
    So the issue was never milk for the baby. Besides, this all got worked out, the divorce settlement was agreed upon and the matter was covered in brown paper and rushed from public view. Though it says something about the power of negative suggestion that Griffin was tarred as a deadbeat, when in reality he was balking at paying $7,200 a month for restaurant bills. 


  1. Marvelous. Just what we need in these days replete with faulty, false and falsified memories.

    And thank you, Mary Lusak.


  2. He also fixed the lakefront bike path and separated the bikers from the joggers/walkers. He didn't have to do that and as far as I know he didn't put his name on it. I thank him.

    1. If memory serves me right. He paid to upgrade the portion of the path he uses regularly

    2. His name is on the mileposts and the trail is in fantastic shape. They are almost finished with the bridge that will cross the Chicago river.
      If he did upgrade the area where he rides, he must ride the full eighteen miles.

  3. Thanks for clearing the deadbeat dad rumor. Makes you wonder about his ex and if she’s made any generous donations.
    I just returned from a bike ride on the Lakefront Trail. His name is written on most mileposts.
    As a frequent visitor of Chicago, I try to take advantage of the trail as often as possible. It’s a thing of beauty and something that makes this city so alive. Without Griffin’s generosity, I doubt it would be anything like the way it is now.
    I took a peek at other generous donations he’s made and it is quite a list.
    That in and of itself doesn’t make him a great person but Chicagoans should be grateful for the good he’s done, even if some people find some of his beneficiaries boring.

  4. I definately had the wrong lawyer, lol. Wonder mostly what the lawyers made in that so rich it's actually funny settlement.To us common folks. (I think her arguement was what she had theoretically had lost in future earnings when she ggave up the brokerage
    for him and kids.)


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