Make us your home page
Instagram

Bailed-out AIG dropped $443,000 at lavish resort

We're pretty sure it wasn't planned this way, but now the words "AIG" and "pedicure" may prove inseparable.

The insurance giant's decision to blow $443,343 — oh, and 71 cents — on a celebratory week of fancy rooms, food, manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and golf at California's only Mobil five-star resort right after AIG was saved from collapse with an $85-billion federal bailout loan earns the insurer first prize as the firm most out of touch with financial reality.

Talk about living high while the global economy burns.

Details of the weeklong resort event for about 100, billed as a "conference" for top-performing independent insurance agents, came to light in a congressional hearing in which AIG's itemized bill from the St. Regis Resort at Monarch Beach, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific south of Los Angeles, was made public. Receipts provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were dated Sept. 22 through Sept. 30. AIG was bailed out on Sept. 16.

The invoice highlights:

• $139,375.30 for rooms that typically range from $400 to $1,200 a night.

• $147,301.71 for banquets, $3,064.71 at the Lounge, $5,016.32 at the StoneHill Tavern and $1,909.99 at the Monarch Bayclub.

• $6,939.09 for golf.

• $23,380 at Spa Gaucin.

The resort's spa bill is especially intriguing. According to Spa Gaucin's own menu of services, its offerings start with the $80 "chocolate pedicure" and "Mediterranean Light" massage for $175 in which "medium pressure strokes are executed with a hydrating Chardonnay grape seed massage oil."

For the bolder AIG invitee, there's the $350 "Mediterranean Harmony" in which two therapists "perform a choreographed massage in harmony."

No wonder something so petty as an $85-billion taxpayer bailout would slip right out of their heads. For the record, AIG's new CEO, former Allstate chief Edward Liddy, says the St. Regis event has been mischaracterized. AIG said the event had been scheduled last year but a spokesman said he did not know if anyone thought to cancel it in the wake of the federal bailout.

The deal gave the federal government an 80 percent stake in AIG, the right to remove senior management and to veto payment of dividends to shareholders as ways to protect taxpayers. But it does not seem to empower the feds to kibosh one "Mediterranean Harmony" massage, with two therapists.

Others see a bigger theme in such blind excess when AIG was about to fail without government aid. "This is the new Enron," UCLA management and business ethics professor Gonzalo Freixes told the Los Angeles Times. "A lot of people probably thought we were past this kind of thing."

By itself, a $443,344 frolic at a world-class luxury resort would not normally hit our radar. Not when compared to such corporate high jinks as former Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski throwing a $2-million birthday toga bash in Sardinia for his wife — with Tyco footing half the bill. Or ex-Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who not only declined to take the Fifth before Congress but also blamed all of Enron's problems on others.

Kozlowski and Skilling are still in jail.

Yet AIG on Wednesday was given access to an additional $37.8-billion federal loan, on top of the $85-billion. Here's one lucky company enjoying the fruits of the biggest corporate bailout in U.S. history.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Bailed-out AIG dropped $443,000 at lavish resort 10/08/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 12, 2008 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco county lawyer disbarred for taking woman's money

    Real Estate

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis.

    The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis. 
[2016 booking photo via Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Rick Scott signs package of tax breaks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed a tax-cut package Thursday that — while vastly scaled back from what he wanted — eliminates the so-called "tampon tax" and offers tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers and Floridians preparing for hurricane season.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a tax cut package that will cost state coffers $91.6 million during the upcoming year. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  3. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]

  4. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass

    Banking

    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  5. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America

    Tourism

    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]