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Friday, June 10, 2005

The Great Gatsby of our time... 
If I were a professional screenwriter, I'd make a movie about the rise and fall of Alberto Vilar, investor, philanthropist, and as it turned out, a fraud.

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111835505341855812,00.html?mod=home%5Fpage%5Fone%5Fus

Oh, he's also a brother violinist. And from what I understand, a pretty good one.

I've been following his story since his arrest last month. He was an interesting character, to me, as a mutual funds reporter in early 2000, at the height of the tech boom. I always did wonder how a relatively smallish investment company could support such ostentatious displays of wealth and profligate charitable giving.

I think his story would make a striking movie. I'm fascinated by the sort of character flaws that force men like him to continue to lie, continue to pledge money they don't have, and continue to try to keep up appearances and operate in those circles long before the end is inevitable.

What could have been going on in his mind?

I don't want to minimize the suffering and damages incurred by the victims of his fraud and mismanagement. But I'm drawn to the story, and fascinated with the idea that this man, driven by whatever demons possessed him, must have been going through his own private Hell as he watched his world crumble around him. (I was fascinated by Stephen Glass, too, and watched the movie "Shattered Glass" on the plane back to the US from Germany on the way back from Iraq. But Vilar's story is way way way way better.)

He must have cried himself to sleep at night at the end, but still had to go out and play the game, and pledge yet more money.

Or does he yet consider himself a victim?

What he did is wrong. But I don't condemn him. He has demons I cannot begin to understand.

Where's F. Scott Fitzgerald when we need him?

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