the greatest depression

Marc Dreier’s Amazing Hoax

Some new information has emerged about Marc Dreier, a managing partner and founder of the Park Avenue law firm Dreier LLP, who was arrested, bizarrely, for “impersonation” last weekend in Canada, and it is a little bit mind-boggling. There’s not a lot of detail yet; as of right now, even his lawyer seems overwhelmed: “This is a very complex matter, and the facts are beyond the reach of a sound bite,” he told the media. But, given what has emerged, Dreier’s hoax may turn out to be one of the most interesting hoaxes in the history of white-collar crime, a Clifford Irving story for the Greatest Depression — or better, a metaphor for the entire financial crisis.

Dreier is a character straight out of the Second Gilded Age. He had a triplex apartment on the Upper East Side, a spread in Southampton, a 120-foot yacht, three personal assistants. He hosted parties for the likes of Alicia Keys, and represented high-profile clients like Judith Regan. The walls of his Park Avenue office, according to the Times, “drip with expensive modern art.”

But it was all, or at least partially, based on a lie. A really good lie:

The U.S. says he lied to three unnamed hedge funds when he claimed to represent a New York real estate developer purportedly seeking to sell notes to investors. Dreier told the funds they could buy the notes at a deep discount from the developer and the original note purchasers, prosecutors said in a complaint. One fund wired about $100 million to Dreier’s account in October after receiving phony financial documents written by the attorney, prosecutors said. Another fund allegedly wired about $13.5 million.

Right: He’d had been selling meaningless pieces of paper that claimed to represent real estate for millions of dollars. Which is, you know, what we’ve all recently found out everyone in the financial system has been doing. Once his lawyer wraps his head around the meta-ness, this is going to be one hell of a case.

Lawyer Dreier Charged by U.S. With $100 Million Fraud [Bloomberg]

Lawyer Is Accused in Massive Hedge Fund Fraud [NYT]

Marc Dreier’s Amazing Hoax