Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Obituaries

The past two days have seen the deaths of some truly famous people including Al Wertheimer, Oscar de la Renta, and Ben Bradlee. You can add one more to the list: Nelson Bunker Hunt, known simply as "Bunker," perhaps the most famous of the 14 offspring (from three different women) of billionaire H.L. Hunt, died in far less luxurious circumstances in a Texas nursing home. He was 88 years old.

He had once been the richest man in the world, going so far as to corner the market on silver when Libya's Khadafy (Qaddafi or however you spell it--there are some 125 ways to spell the name) seized much of Hunt's billions, but the move proved disastrous:

Denied a huge chunk of his fortune, Hunt turned to an investment he felt sure would be stable, pumping billions into the silver market and at one point controlled up to half of the world’s deliverable supply.

Then came what has been dubbed Silver Thursday – when in 1980 the price of the metal tumbled to around a fifth of what it had been at the peak of the Hunt family’s buying spree. Bunker, along with his brothers Herbert and Lamar, at that point owned so much of the world’s silver that selling off would have only made prices fall more.

It went downhill from there. He never went completely broke thanks to some trust funds his father set up for him and his siblings, but he would never bounce back to the Fortune or Forbes lists. Eventually he suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Hunt was prominent in horse racing circles. He had a thoroughbred farm near Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, called Bluegrass Farm. It was across the road from fabled Calumet Farm and both could be seen from an airplane. His most famous racehorse was Dahlia.

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