René-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet

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René-Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet (1943 - 22 December 2008) was a French aristocrat, money manager, and businessman. He was one of the founders of Access International Advisors (AIA Group), a company caught and subsumed in the Madoff investment scandal in 2008.

He was born in Saint-Malo, France.

The AIA Group was a research analyst investment agency that specialized in managing hedged and structured investment portfolios that involve commercial physical and biological research.[1][2]

On 22 December 2008, Magon de La Villehuchet reportedly committed suicide.[3] He was found dead in his company office on Madison Avenue in New York City the following morning.[4] His left wrist was slit[5] and he had taken sleeping pills. Although no suicide note was found at the scene, his brother in France received a note shortly after his death in which he expressed remorse and a feeling of responsibility.[5] AIA Group had lost $1.5 billion, including Villehuchet's own personal fortune. After Madoff's Ponzi scheme imploded, Villehuchet held out some hope he'd be able to recover some of his money, and opted to take his own life when it was apparent that it was irretrievably lost.[6]

Magon de La Villehuchet lived in New Rochelle, New York, and came from a prominent French family. Before founding AIA Group, he was the chairman and CEO of Crédit Lyonnais Securities USA. He also contributed to the founding of Apollo Management, financial management firm established by financier Leon Black. He was also a member of New York Yacht Club, the Larchmont Yacht Club—a racer in the Star and Shields sailboat classes—and the St. Malo Bay Nautical Club in France.[5] He left behind a wife.

AIA had connections to wealthy and powerful aristocrats from Europe. Magon de La Villehuchet ‘s family had done business with many of these aristocrats and their ancestors for almost 300 years.[6] Its funds enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe's high society to garner clients. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) do not believe Magon de La Villehuchet was involved personally in the US$50 billion fraudulent financial Ponzi scheme which Madoff was arrested for masterminding, on 11 December. Bloomberg News reported on 2 January 2009 that the AIA funds had increased aggregate exposure to Madoff from 30% to 75% of a total US$3 billion assets in 2008, for a US$2.25 billion exposure. It also identified Philippe Junot, former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, and Prince Michael of Yugoslavia as partner and investor-relations executive, respectively, in the firm; and Liliane Bettencourt, the world's wealthiest woman, the 86-year-old daughter of L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller, as an early investor.[7]

According to The New York Times, René-Thierry's older brother Bertrand said that Thierry was connected to Madoff by Thierry's partner in AIA, Patrick Littaye, another French banker, and that Thierry had not known Madoff personally. “He had a true concept of capitalism,” Bertrand Magon de La Villehuchet, 74, said of his brother, quoted in the Times. “He felt responsible and he felt guilty. Today, in the financial world, there is no responsibility; no one wants to shoulder the blame.”[5] Bloomberg reported that Bernard had invested 20% of his assets in an AIA/Madoff fund. It also reported that René-Thierry founded Access in 1994 with Littaye. The two had met at Paribas in 1970.[7] In February 2009, Littaye denied having heard of whistleblower Harry Markopolos' accusations against Madoff in the years before the scandal broke, and said Madoff was "of course" exempted from the usual handwriting analysis (graphology) which was among the due diligence efforts AIA made with its outside fund managers.[8]

Over the final 20 years of his life, Magon de La Villehuchet was renovating and organizing the archives of Le Château de Plouër[9] in Plouër-sur-Rance, Brittany, which he'd inherited from an uncle, and was nearly finished with the endeavor at the time of his death.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ AIA Group Company Web site (which went offline, but is still accessible through archive.org)
  2. ^ Company Profile on Manta Company profile on Manta
  3. ^ Hedge fund founder Thierry de La Villehuchet kills self after losing $1B in Madoff scandal New York Daily News.
  4. ^ Company Address
  5. ^ a b c d e Berenson, Alex, and Matthew Saltmarsh, "Madoff Investor’s Suicide Leaves Questions", The New York Times, 2 January 2009, p. B1 New York edition.
  6. ^ a b Markopolos, Harry (2010). No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-55373-2. 
  7. ^ a b Katz, Alan, "Madoff Investor’s Suicide Was an ‘Act of Honor,’ Brother Says", Bloomberg News, 2 January 2009. Retrieved on 3 January 2009.
  8. ^ Zuckerman, Gregory, and David Gauthier-Villars, "A Lonely Lament From a Whistle-Blower", online.wsj, 3 February 2009. "Mr. Markopolos Regrets His Failure to Persuade Investors; Tips for the SEC." Retrieved 9 March 2009.
  9. ^ Chateau pictured. Plouër-sur-Rance official website

External links[edit]