Thursday, July 19, 2012

It only seems that "some guys have all the luck"

So the Apostle Paul was able to say, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10). This man of God announced that at all times and in all places he was the undeserving object of sufficient grace. He rejoiced, whatever his circumstances, in the presence, power and NEVER FAILING RICHES of Jesus Christ. For the Christian every need is supplied (Phil. 4:19).

When we believe this, we will never again be subject to the indignation and bitterness which comes from a merely human interpretation of our circumstances. With the help of the professional agitators in today's world, many walk and live their lives in a state of inflamed resentment at someone who is more favored or apparently (and so much is only apparent) more rich than they.
Dave Breese, The Wealth By Which We Live, 1982, pp. 31-32 (capitals in original)

Some Guys Have All the Luck was a minor hit single for the Persuaders in 1973, and a much bigger hit (undoubtedly because of the wonderfully inspired drumming) for Rod Stewart in 1984. Many people (including this blogger) can identify with the song's title and lyrics. However, as our late brother Dave Breese pointed out, so much is only apparent, as the following recent items illustrate.

As reported by Sam Marsden in the London Daily Telegraph, July 18, 2012:

The decomposing body of heiress Eva Rausing was found under a pile of bedding, clothing and bin bags gaffer-taped together two months after she was last seen alive, a court heard.

Her husband Hans Kristian Rausing, the 49-year-old heir to the Tetra Pak fortune, appeared in court charged with preventing the lawful and decent burial of her body.

West London magistrates’ court heard that officers went to the couple’s £70 million home in Chelsea, west London, and discovered Mrs Rausing’s body in a second-floor bedroom in a “secure annexe” on July 9.

She was lying underneath a pile of clothes, bed linen and bin bags “several feet deep” and was in an “advanced state of decomposition”, the court heard.

Brinkman May, for the prosecution, said Mrs Rausing, 48, was last seen by a financial consultant on May 3.
As reported by Jason Lewis of the Daily Telegraph on July 14, 2012:

The tragic last months of Eva Rausing saw her caught in a spiral of paranoia and despair fuelled by her drug addiction, her friends have disclosed.

The wife of the Tetra Pak heir, who was found dead of a suspected drug overdose on Tuesday, was tormented by fears that she and her husband, Hans Kristian Rausing, were being spied on at the London home they shared.

She had also come to believe they were being targeted by international criminal gangs in the months before her death.

Her decline has been revealed by the friends she turned to for help in uncovering what she saw as a conspiracy of “bribes, lies and sleaze” against them.

One friend, who has known the couple for more than 20 years, told The Sunday Telegraph how they had turned their £70 million home in London’s Belgravia into a virtual fortress, living in a few upstairs rooms where even their live-in servants were banned from entering.

“Eva said they believed the house was under surveillance and someone who had worked for them and who they trusted was involved. They were really spooked,” the friend said. “She didn’t know what to believe and who to trust...”

...The Rausings, who were friends of the Prince of Wales and had given millions of pounds to charity, had become increasingly isolated following a long battle with addiction which saw both cautioned four years ago by Scotland Yard for drug offences.

In 2008, Mrs Rausing, who met her husband at a rehabilitation clinic, was stopped trying to take class A drugs into an event at the US Embassy in London. Heroin and cocaine were later found in a police search of their home.

The Cadogan Place property, which is two town houses knocked into one and linked by underground passageways to two mews properties, was wired to allow the couple to apparently eavesdrop on visitors arriving at their home.

The friend feared for Mrs Rausing and her husband, who had “lost all sense of night and day”. Their few visitors were often asked to come around in the dead of night.

The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the couple were taking huge amounts of heroin, supplemented by cocaine and prescription painkillers including morphine. “Eva said the doses of morphine would have killed most people,” the friend said.

On one occasion another friend, who also asked not be named, said they had gone to see Mrs Rausing at 11pm earlier this year.

“Eve met me in the kitchen at Cadogan Place,” the friend said. “She confessed it was the first time she had been in the kitchen or the ground floor for several months. Apparently the servants cooked for her and Hans and then left the food on the first floor landing.”

The downstairs of the house is beautifully decorated, and adorned with art, while the basement contains a cinema. But the friend said: “It felt like nobody was home. No one really lived there.”

One of the rear mews houses is used as the Rausings’ garage. The building contains his-and-hers Ferraris, both covered in dust.

In recent months Mrs Rausing’s paranoia and fear had reached new heights. She believed that the couple were being targeted by “very, very bad people”, including people who had “done business in Russia for a very, very long time”. Eva also said she was “terrified”.

The friend said the couple feared former staff members had been paid to spy on them and that their computers and mobile phones were being “hacked”. Last week it was reported that a team of ex-SAS officers working for a security company had been keeping Mrs Rausing under surveillance in an attempt to prevent her from buying drugs.

Another friend said: “One minute Eva would trust you, tell you she loved you, the next she would accuse you of betraying her. She talked of putting a curse on me and said I would 'attract very black energy’. Then next time we spoke she would apologise.”

In more lucid moments Mrs Rausing would acknowledge her own delusions. The friend said: “One day earlier this year Eva said, 'Something is definitely not right in my own mind. Thank you for helping me to see this. I don’t like it but it is good to know that it is internal rather than external.’”
And as reported in the Daily Telegraph on July 10, 2012:

It was Elisabeth Rausing who suggested to her husband Ruben one lunchtime that he invent a lightweight, disposable alternative to milk bottles, thereby provided the Eureka moment which led to one of the world's most ubiquitous products.

Ruben Rausing began working on prototypes the same afternoon and developed what he later patented as the Tetra Pak, right, a watertight cardboard container lined with foil which first went into production in 1953.

After Ruben asked his ambitious sons, Hans and Gad, to market the product, the Swedish company developed a virtual worldwide monopoly. Each year 137 billion drinks, yoghurts and ice creams are sold in Tetra Paks - the equivalent of 23 for every person on the planet.

The Rausing brothers moved to the UK in the 1980s to escape Sweden's high taxes, but attracted little attention until the Sunday Times Rich List named them as Britain's wealthiest men in 1993.

Gad died in 2000 and Hans was overtaken by the likes of Roman Abramovich and the Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate.

Neither Hans, who sold his 50 per cent share of the company to Gad in 1995, nor his three children now have any connection with Tetra Laval, the parent company of Tetra Pak, though Hans's personal wealth continues to rise thanks to shrewd investments.

In the Forbes ranking of the wealthiest people in the world, Rausing was ranked 83rd, with an estimated wealth of $10 billion in 2011.

Lisbet, Sigrid and Hans Kristian are believed to have already inherited billions from their father.

Lisbet lives on a 48,000-acre estate Highlands estate and donates millions of pounds to wildlife charities whiel Sigrid owns Portobello Books and Granta magazine and supports charities working against sex trafficking and poverty.

But while his sisters appear settled Hans Kristian, who might once have expected to carry on the family business, did not follow such a settled path.

Raised in the family's home town in southern Sweden and partly educated in the United States, he dropped out of his privileged life in his erly twenties and headed for India.

He took the hippy trail to Katmandu, living rough, and reportedly indulging in the hedonism that goes with life on the road.

The only time Hans Kristian attracted attention was in 2002 when he bought one of the largest apartments on The World, a floating haven for tax exiles which stops off at the glamorous social events.

But he was thrust into the limelight in 2008 when he was seized at the £5 million Chelsea home he shared with wife Eva after she had been detained by security guards at the nearby American embassy in possession of crack cocaine and heroin, found in her handbag.

More drugs were found at the house, and both Rausings were taken to Charing Cross police station for questioning.

The arrests came as a surprise as Hans Kristian was widely known as an organiser and benefactor of anti-drug charities. The Prince of Wales dubbed him "one very special philanthropist."

For more than a decade he substantially financed Mentor, an international charity, founded by the Queen of Sweden, that helps guide young people away from drug use.

However at the time many struggled to pin-point what he actually did with his time.

Acquaintances portrayed a man struggling, in middle age, with the legacy of a life in which most of the big challenges were already taken care of.

It was at an addiction clinic in the US that he met Eva Kemeny, the beautiful, blonde daughter of a wealthy Pepsi Cola executive and property developer, who would become his wife. The couple had four children.

Eva, perhaps to a greater extent than her husband, has been prominent in supporting anti-drug organisations. She gave £100,000 for the launch of Mentor, and also serves on the board of Action on Addiction, a well-regarded charity helping young people with drink and drug problems.

"I am very sorry for the upset I have caused," she said in a brief statement after her arrest in 2008. "I have made a grave error, and consider myself to have taken a wrong turn in the course of my life."

He now has no involvement in the Tetra Pak business and holds no other UK company directorships. It is not known whether he has a job.
Then there's the case of Michael Marin, a lawyer and former Wall Street trader living in suburban Phoenix who lived in a $3.5-million mansion on which he could no longer afford the mortgage. As reported by CBS News, July 11, 2012:

(CBS/KPHO/AP) PHOENIX - Investigators who believe arson defendant Michael Marin killed himself in a Phoenix courtroom shortly after a jury found him guilty have found two new pieces of evidence that back up their theory, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reports.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the family of 53-year-old Michael Marin received a delayed email the night after his June 28 death in court.

Arpaio said on the eve of Marin's death on June 28, his son received a delayed email from his father that said, "If things don't go good in court, Marin's wills are in place and his car can be found parked at a Mesa location."

Investigators also found a can labeled as "cyanide" in his vehicle. That canister was turned over to the medical examiner's office unopened. Arpaio says Marin ordered the canister of cyanide off the internet in 2011, before his trial even began.

Court officials said the judge and lawyers were discussing aggravating factors and the jury was out of the room when 53-year-old Marin's face suddenly turned red and he collapsed to the floor.

He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said Marin deliberately burned down his $3.5 million suburban Phoenix mansion in July 2009 after it failed to sell at a charity auction and he could no longer pay the mortgage. He was seen escaping the fire by climbing down a rope ladder while wearing scuba gear.

A Maricopa County Superior Court jury found Marin guilty last week of arson of an occupied structure. Prosecutors said he could have faced 16 years in prison for the charges.

A video recording of Marin's last moments in court had some officials wondering whether his death was a suicide. The video showed Marin cover his mouth and his hands while hearing the guilty verdict and apparently swallowing something, KPHO-TV reports.

He was also seen occasionally sipping from a sports drink bottle before his body twisted into violent convulsions.

Investigators say they are still waiting for the final toxicology reports to come back.
As well, July 14 marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Jackie Jensen, the only man to play in an East-West Shrine Game, a Rose Bowl, a World Series, and a major league baseball All-Star game. His football exploits at the University of California landed him in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995, although he left the U of C after his junior year to pursue a professional baseball career. As a pitcher and outfielder, he led California to victory in the first College World Series in 1947, when the Golden Bears defeated a Yale University team whose players included future U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

Mr. Jensen began his professional baseball career with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1949, signing for a salary reported at $75,000--more than most major league players were making at the time, and an incredible figure for a rookie minor leaguer ($75,000 was a respectable salary for a major league player as late as the 1970s). He was sold to the New York Yankees in 1950, seeing limited playing time with a team in the midst of a run of five straight World Series championships. A trade to the Washington Nationals early in the 1952 season led to more playing time and success, which increased when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox two years later. From 1954-1959, Mr. Jensen batted in more runs than any other American League player; he led the league in stolen bases in 1954, and was named the AL's Most Valuable Player in 1958. However, there was more to Mr. Jensen's life than met the eye, as this article from the April 12, 1976 issue of Sports Illustrated revealed.

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