“A lot of 24-year-olds raise families,” says Ira. “Brooks had his mother there [in Cincinnati]. There was support. It wasn’t like he was in the wilderness.” The children’s nanny, who’d cared for them in Hong Kong, moved with them. “Brooks was huge,” says Ira. “He’s the true hero.”
To Bill, the arrangement seemed like lunacy. “It’s not normality. People don’t do things like this,” Bill says. And to him, the move seemed spiteful, an attempt at all costs to keep Rob’s children away from the Kissels.
Bill moved aggressively to, as he saw it, rescue his grandkids. “He was pretty malignant,” recalls Brooks, now a resident in pediatric psychiatry at the University of Utah. “He threatened that he would ruin me and everyone that was close to me, bankrupting my father, making sure I never practiced medicine. And he at least gave the appearance that he meant it.”
Jane wanted the kids, but she already had two of her own, one just a few months old. So Andrew sued for custody. For once, he emerged as the family’s lead actor, its good guy. Even his father praised him.
“Jane, it’s your ex-brother,” said Andrew. “You’ve managed to do what Dad has tried to do for 75 years: tear this family apart. You’ve done that. And we’re going to bury you.”
Ira sometimes felt descended upon by the Kissels—to him, they seemed to swarm. But he found Andrew the least objectionable. It helped that Andrew had once apologized for Bill. “My father,” Ira remembers Andrew saying, “I can’t explain—he’s been like this his whole life.”
Andrew and Ira rarely spoke face-to-face. “Andrew always said that he had a difficult time talking in person, and that’s why he liked to talk on the telephone or through a lawyer,” Ira says. For Ira, Andrew’s style worked. “Well, Andrew realized that I wasn’t the enemy,” says Ira, “and, I don’t know, we got along.”
Ira signed off, and at the end of 2003, Andrew boarded a private Marquis jet to Cincinnati to collect the kids. It cost $8,000, which he billed to Rob’s estate.
In Greenwich, Andrew took up life as a father of five, a patriarch coming to the aid of his younger, much-loved brother, and also as a rising businessman.
He’d already liquidated his New Jersey real estate for about $25 million. Even after deducting about $8 million in bank debt and $14 million owed investors, he still had probably $3 million of profit. Andrew, though, netted much more, since he failed to inform investors—including his brother and those East 74th Street neighbors—that he’d sold the properties. Instead, he continued to send them their share of the supposed income, along with rosy financials.
With the inflated proceeds, Andrew invested in Connecticut real estate, often shrewdly. He clearly had a knack. There was, for instance, a profitable multi-unit building, Woodbury Knoll, in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Andrew had other projects, perhaps none as important as keeping up with his Greenwich neighbors. He built a collection of sixteen luxury cars. To tool around town, he drove a Porsche Cayenne or a Mercedes wagon or a Ferrari (he had four Ferraris). If the family went to the club for dinner, they took two cars since Andrew insisted on arriving in a Ferrari. He bought a yacht, an 80-foot Lazzara he named Special K’s. Plus he was building, as he put it, a dream house, a 10,000-square-foot Adirondack-style mansion nearby.
After Rob’s death, Andrew’s spending accelerated; it appeared almost limitless. “One of his children was interested in riding, so he bought into Epona Stables. He was so enthusiastic,” recalls one Greenwich associate. Andrew invested in several Greenwich businesses—a liquor store, an import-export business. He put $50,000 into the Beach House Cafe. Andrew’s free-spending ways made him seem magnanimous, a big shot, and in case anyone missed the point, he hired a PR agent. “He was what we call a pleaser,” says one person who dealt with him professionally. “He wanted everybody to like him and worked hard at making them,” says one Greenwich business associate.
Andrew was still in the business of owning apartment buildings, but soon he moved into a more glamorous end of real estate. Andrew and his partner David Parisier, his former East 74th Street neighbor, became developers. Why Parisier continued to work with Andrew after the co-op fiasco wasn’t clear. Maybe, as one person who worked with both suggested, “David was looking at dollar signs and thinking Andrew was a ticket for him.” They purchased land and started construction. “They didn’t have the slightest idea how to build a house,” says a builder who worked with them. To him, it seemed like Andrew and Parisier spent most of their energy going at one another. “It was the most dysfunctional group I was ever with,” he says. “I don’t think they trusted each other. I don’t think Andrew trusted anyone.”