Nelson Bunker Hunt
|Nelson Bunker Hunt|
February 22, 1926|
El Dorado, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||October 21, 2014
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Nelson Bunker Hunt (February 22, 1926 – October 21, 2014) was an American oil company executive. He was a former billionaire whose fortune collapsed after he and his brothers William Herbert and Lamar Hunt tried but failed to corner the world market in silver. He was also a thoroughbred horse breeder.
Hunt was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, but lived most of his life in Dallas, Texas. He was the son of Lyda Bunker and oil tycoon H. L. Hunt, who set up Placid Oil, once one of the biggest independent oil companies, and the brother of Lamar Hunt, founder of the American Football League and Kansas City Chiefs. In October 2014, Hunt died at the age of 88. He had cancer and dementia.
Hunt owned the Dallas-based Titan Resources Corporation, which is still involved in the exploration of oil in North Africa. He was chairman of Hunt Exploration and Mining Company (HEMCO).
Beginning in the early 1970s, Hunt, and his brother William Herbert and Lamar Hunt began accumulating large amounts of silver. By 1979, they had nearly cornered the global market. In the last nine months of 1979, the brothers profited by an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion in silver speculation, with estimated silver holdings of 100 million troy ounces (3,100,000 kg).
Primarily because of the Hunt brothers' accumulation of the precious metal, prices of silver futures contracts and silver bullion rose from $11 an ounce in September 1979 to $50 an ounce in January 1980. Silver prices ultimately collapsed to below $11 an ounce two months later. The largest single day drop in the price of silver occurred on "Silver Thursday." In February 1985 the Hunt brothers were charged "with manipulating and attempting to manipulate the prices of silver futures contracts and silver bullion during 1979 and 1980" by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In 1989, in a settlement with the CFTC, Nelson Bunker Hunt was fined US$10 million and banned from trading in the commodity markets as a result of civil charges of conspiring to manipulate the silver market. This fine was in addition to a multimillion-dollar settlement to pay back taxes, fines and interest to the Internal Revenue Service for the same period. His brother made a similar settlement.
Nelson also mentored Zahid Bashir, former spokesman and press secretary to the Pakistani Prime Minister, in oil trading. He was one of the main sponsors of the conservative organization Western Goals Foundation, founded in 1979 by General John K. Singlaub, journalist John Rees, and Democratic Congressman from Georgia Larry McDonald. During the mid-1980s, he contributed almost half a million U.S. dollars to The National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL), a conservative fundraising organization later heavily implicated in the Iran–Contra affair. Hunt was past Chairman of the Board of the Bible Society of Texas and the past Chairman of, and significant contributor to Campus Crusade for Christ International's "Here's Life" Campaign (1976–1980), as well as providing a $3.5 million loan guarantee for the 1979 Campus Crusade film Jesus.
Thoroughbred horse racing
In 1955, Hunt bought his first thoroughbreds and by the 1970s his breeding program had become one of the world's largest and most productive. Winner of the U.S. Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder in 1976, 1985, and 1987, he owned the 8,000-acre (3,200 ha) Bluegrass Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and raced thoroughbreds in Europe and North America. Among his horses, Hunt bred or raced Vaguely Noble, Dahlia, Empery, Youth, Exceller, Trillion, Glorious Song, Dahar and Estrapade.
The United States National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) awarded Hunt the title of "legendary owner-breeder". Overall, Hunt bred 158 stakes winners and either bred or owned 25 champions.
Hunt's bankruptcy forced him to liquidate his thoroughbred operations. A 1988 dispersal sale of 580 horses at Keeneland Sales brought in $46,911,800, at that time the highest amount in the history of thoroughbred auctions. In 1999, he returned to thoroughbred ownership, spending a total of $2,075,000 on 51 juveniles and yearlings. At the time he said, "At my age, I don't plan to do any breeding or buy a farm, I just want to have some fun and try to get lucky racing."
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