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Go Directly to Jail

Tips for the incarcerated from A. Alfred Taubman.

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A. Alfred Taubman, chairman of Sotheby’s from 1983 to 2000, is a survivor: He made his money on malls and fast food, and rejuvenated the stodgy auction business. Then, at 78, he ended up being the only person sent to prison in the wake of the Sotheby’s and Christie’s price-fixing scandal. Take heed, white-collar criminal: His new business book-cum-memoir, Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer, has plenty of handy prison-survival advice.

Check in a day early to avoid the paparazzi:
“The warden was happy to accommodate my new arrival date.” (He arrived by Gulfstream IV.)

Maintain a good-natured demeanor:
“One thing you learn right away as you interact with the other inmates is to never show any signs of disrespect.”

Make new friends:
“A big, strong 36-year-old African-American named Ben … was intelligent, had a good sense of humor, and from our first day together in Rochester he became my adviser and protector, which I appreciated very much.”

But keep the old:
“Nancy Kissinger was kind enough to send me pictures of her new puppy.”

Politely equivocate when your cellmate asks you to adopt him:
“This was a complicated matter, I explained to him. It would require a thorough review by my children, who would have to decide if they wanted him as their brother, and by my estate trustees.”

Be creative with what you have:
“With a few key ingredients (you could buy fresh fruit once a week) and a microwave we created magnificent culinary delights.”

Bring reading material:
“It really is a different experience reading Art + Auction or Vanity Fair in a federal penitentiary.”

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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