SHAME AND FORTUNE

HIS REAL ESTATE EMPIRE HAS COLLAPSED. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SAYS HE'S TOO BROKE TO BOTHER SUING. BUT GOVERNOR SYMINGTON WILL NEVER REALLY BE POOR.

Towering trees line the twisting country lane leading to the top of Seminary Ridge in the horse country of Lutherville, Maryland.

At the crest of the hill, where Mays Chapel Road bears sharply to the left, lies an old wooden post marking the entrance to one of Baltimore County's few remaining country estates.

A gravel driveway heads east past a large, two-story, wood-frame workers' quarters, before curving to the south toward the carriage house, where painters are applying a coat of white.

The entrance way, now paved, becomes a tree-lined circular drive, slowly unveiling an expansive, two-story, white-brick Colonial home, graced by meticulously kept lawns at the rear and southern flank.

It is the home where Arizona Governor John Fife Symington III spent his youth.
Symington has carefully shaped his opulent upbringing for consumption by Arizona voters. He's gone so far as to describe his childhood home as "a true farm."

"We used to make our own bacon and kill our own chickens," he has contended.
But a stroll around the Symington estate makes it clear that any slaughter on the gentleman's spread was done out of adventure, not necessity. After all, this is the estate where Martha Frick Symington raised her only son and three daughters.

One of four grandchildren of Henry Clay Frick, an industrial giant who created one of America's great fortunes 90 years ago, Martha Frick Symington never needed to bloody her hands for a meal.

Over the years, a portion of the immense wealth created by great-grandpa Frick has found its way to Governor Symington by way of four trust funds.

If you happen to be Symington, the trusts are wonderful places for the money to reside.

They allow the governor to legitimately tell his numerous creditors and potential creditors--including the government--that he's broke.

But Symington is broke only in the sense that his childhood estate is a "true farm." In reality, the governor is just a telephone call away from a significant nest egg created by the family of one of America's greatest capitalists.

Just call it the governor's good fortune.
@rule:
@body:Henry Clay Frick wanted to leave a monument that the world would remember him by for decades, if not centuries, to come. So, in 1914, he built a fabulous house on 70th Street and Fifth Avenue on the upper east side of Manhattan, and then filled it with one of the world's great art collections.

Frick could afford it.
By 1901, he had amassed $55 million of stocks and bonds in U.S. Steel. He later controlled at least $42 million of securities in seven different railways. He cut deals with the Carnegies, Mellons, Rockefellers and Morgan.

He was the consummate capitalist. It was Frick who hired 300 Pinkerton guards to protect Carnegie's steel works, triggering a bloody riot during the infamous Homestead strike of 1892. During that altercation, the Pennsylvania National Guard was called in to remove 8,000 striking workers who had taken over the Homestead mill after Frick announced his intention to lower wages and replace union workers with nonunion employees.

Nine years later, Frick helped in the creation of U.S. Steel Corporation by negotiating a crucial agreement with John D. Rockefeller that allowed for the consolidation of competing firms.

Today, Frick is remembered most for his art collection.
The Frick Museum is one of New York's most beautiful and accessible galleries. On Frick's death in 1919, his home, the art collection, which includes works by Rembrandt, Whistler and El Greco, and a $15 million maintenance fund were given to a board of trustees to manage in perpetuity.

Frick lived the last years of his life in the house, designed by famous American architect Thomas Hastings, spending time with his two children, Helen and Childs, and four grandchildren. One of those grandchildren was Martha Frick Symington, the governor's mother.

It is through these children, and their children, that the remains of a vast American fortune have flowed to Arizona's sitting governor. The exact amounts of all the inheritances cannot be determined from public records. The precise terms under which J. Fife Symington III has received his nest egg also remain undisclosed. The governor declined to comment for this article.

By tracking what is publicly known of money flows in the Frick and Symington families, however, one thing can be ascertained: Governor Symington remains a child of wealth.

On his death, the industrialist Henry Clay Frick left one-sixth of his huge estate to his wife and two children. Published reports estimated the value of his daughter's inheritance at $38 million.

The estate of that daughter, Helen Frick, grew to more than $150 million by the time the never-married art patron died in 1984, according to Forbes magazine.

Like her father, Helen Frick left tens of millions of dollars to benefit the arts and public charities. She created the Pittsburgh-based Helen C. Frick Foundation in 1947, which by 1989 had assets of $65 million.

In 1981, Helen Frick sold the Frick Building in downtown Pittsburgh for $14 million and created a trust fund for the benefit of her niece, her nephew and 14 great-nieces and great-nephews.

One of those great-nephews is Governor Symington.
It is uncertain whether the governor received more from Helen Frick than a share of the building proceeds. Helen Frick noted that she limited her gifts to her family members at the time of the building sale because she had provided for them in the past.

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