Sunday, January 29, 2006


The New York Times wonders why the rich can't stay married:
FOR Ronald O. Perelman, Forbes magazine's 34th-richest man in America, marriage would seem to be getting expensive: last week, he announced that he was divorcing his fourth wife, the actress Ellen Barkin, and would pay out the $20 million promised in their prenuptial pact — having paid $8 million, $80 million and $30 million, respectively, to Wives 1, 2 and 3.

While matchmakers among the ultrarich are already speculating about who will be wife No. 5, others might reasonably ask why Mr. Perelman and other serial grooms in his jet set don't take the actor George Clooney's "never again" approach: Date ferociously, but don't marry. As one prominent New York divorce lawyer said of an 85-year-old client now negotiating his fourth prenup, "Don't you think he would stop?"

"They marry people who listen to completely different music, who don't know who Joe McCarthy was," bemoaned the lawyer, who would not be quoted by name for fear of angering his clients. "They have less chance with every one that it's going to succeed."

So why do the ultrarich marry, and re-marry, and re-marry? For men who have cycled through what Harriet Newman Cohen, a New York divorce lawyer, called "very high powered, high ZIP code divorces," marriage, more than dating, fills old traditions of respectability, status and comfort. It might even be love, for a while. Plus, they can afford it.

The article mainly looks at the economic implications, but is right on with this observation:
Of course, marriage to a certain kind of woman — a movie star, a socialite — can also be about conquest, ambition, cachet.

"It's ego," said David Patrick Columbia, who writes "If you're a big deal, you've got to have ways of showing it. You've got the house, got the car, got the wife. They don't think much of marriage, they think much of possessing."

They can easily find women to agree — and typically it is the women who are, as divorce lawyers gently call it, "the non-moneyed."

Stanford G. Lotwin, a divorce lawyer in New York, said he tried to warn his serial clients about taking on serial wives.

"We tell these men, you cannot go anywhere without our card in your pocket," he said. "As soon as you have your second date, you have to call, and we'll remind you how expensive this is. He'll say, 'I repeat your name in my sleep, I promise you I'm not doing anything.' " But soon enough, Mr. Lotwin will be pulling out the box of tissues he uses to guide the man's new fiancée through the prenuptial process.

For many of the men, the prenuptial is simply part of the business deal that is marriage. "They see it like a hedge fund," said Ms. Cohen, the divorce lawyer. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."

And it's just this attitude that makes divorce more likely. "They're used to having whatever they want," said Norman Sheresky, a New York divorce lawyer.

Sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.


Chuck Anziulewicz said...

And they say that Gay couples who WANT to get married are a THREAT to marriage.

Anonymous said...

Um, I think the point of the post is that THESE guys also abuse marriage--hence the polygamy jab.

- Mitch

Anonymous said...

And they say that Gay couples who WANT to get married are a THREAT to marriage.

Chuck, there are two parts to Jesus's definition of marriage (Matt 19):

1) Sexes of the mates: one man and one woman, and
2) Duration: life.

Homosexual marriage violates rule #1. Mr. Perelman and his ilk (and their brides) violate rule #2. Both rules are important. By breaking either, one brings condemnation on himself and dishonors God because disregards the institution He ordained in the beginning.

In other words, it seems to me that Alan is spreading the rebuke evenly, serial polygamists and homosexuals alike. Can't you even give a man credit for being consistent?

-Brad Collins