A friend sent me “With Steve Wynn Gone, ‘Queen of Las Vegas’ Does Boardroom Battle” (nytimes):
Elaine Wynn, known as the Queen of Las Vegas for her long involvement with Mirage and Wynn Resorts, the casino and resort companies she founded with her ex-husband Steve Wynn, might seem an unlikely champion of shareholder rights and good corporate governance.
The outcome is of far more than academic interest, given that Ms. Wynn is now the company’s largest shareholder, with a 9 percent stake valued this week at nearly $2 billion.
For years, the terms of a shareholder agreement related to her 2010 divorce settlement prevented her from voting her shares independently of Mr. Wynn. But that changed earlier this year after The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Wynn had engaged in a long pattern of sexual harassment of Wynn employees, and had paid a manicurist $7.5 million after she told others in 2005 that Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex.
The cash-for-sex transactions in which Mr. Wynn allegedly engaged were brought to the attention of journalists in a post-divorce lawsuit by the former beauty queen (Vanity Fair), who is generally credited with supervising the interior design of the casinos that Steve Wynn managed. Mr. Wynn no longer is a shareholder or a manager while the former Mrs. Wynn will likely soon be in charge.
My friend’s email: “For decades he prevailed over competition from Caesars, MGM, and the rest, but was taken down by the divorce plaintiff. I bet he wishes he had hired an interior designer instead of marrying one.”
He remarried Ms. Wynn in 1991, after an initial divorce in 1986 (Wikipedia). By that time Wynn had already launched the $630 million Mirage casino. It is kind of interesting that, despite the array of attorneys, risk management executives, etc. that would necessarily surround a casino project of this size, he couldn’t foresee the risk of being married (I don’t think that there have been huge relevant changes in Nevada law between 1991 and now (one big change is that the state defaults to a 50/50 parenting schedule, but the happy-to-unhappy couple did not have any children during this second marriage (Ms. Wynn was 49 years old when the second marriage began)). If we are to believe all of the allegations about Mr. Wynn’s frisky and cash-fueled sexual activities, it seems reasonable to assume that things were proceeding in a similar manner back in 1991. Wouldn’t that have been an additional obvious reason not to take the risk of marriage plus bringing the wife into the business partnership?
Separately, here’s another one where the thinking is tough to understand. “Geena Davis’ 4th husband files for divorce after nearly 17 years of marriage” (Newsday):
Jarrahy requested dissolution of their marriage under the title “Rob Doe vs. Veronica Doe.” TMZ, People magazine and E! News each said they confirmed this was for Iranian-American doctor Jarrahy, born in 1971 [i.e., he is 47], and Davis, 62.
Jarrahy’s filing, which states the couple separated late last year, cites irreconcilable differences and asks for spousal support and joint legal and physical custody of their children, daughter Alizeh, 16, and twin sons Kian and Kaiis, 14.
She had already been divorced three times so presumably she was familiar with California family law, a strongly pro-alimony system. How could she have imagined that the marriage would last when, as soon as she became an elderly woman, he would be able to get her to pay him to enjoy the Los Angeles singles scene as a wealthy middle-aged guy? (See “What I learned at my 35th MIT reunion“: The women who had been sued were the higher-earning spouse. For example, female physicians who survived 30 years of practice without a malpractice lawsuit had proved vulnerable to attack in family court. No-fault divorce for their plaintiffs was rephrased as “Would you like to discard your 55-year-old wife, take half of the money she saved from working as a medical specialist, take half of the money she’s going to earn going forward, and see if having sex with younger women is more exciting?”)
[The guy asking a judge to order Geena Davis to support him, incidentally, is a practicing plastic surgeon. That’s the beauty of California family court! Middle-class taxpayers fund a judge to listen to a prime-age-for-working guy who earns $750,000 per year explain why he can’t live on that and why a former sex partner who will soon be eligible for Medicare should be helping out.]
- Nevada family law (unlike in many other states, it is difficult to earn court-ordered profits from a sexual relationship unless the sex partner can be persuaded to marry; child support from an unmarried encounter will yield less than $250,000 in revenue (tax-free) over an 18-year period)