The Life of HsuWe’ve been obsessed with Norman Hsu, the Chinese immigrant and would-be clothing entrepreneur who became one of the biggest Democratic fund-raisers in the nation, ever since he was arrested earlier this fall for running a “massive” Ponzi scheme. The Wall Street Journal today closes the book on Hsu with a lengthy and at times cinematic profile that begins with Hsu partying with politicos in his Soho loft and ends with his attempted suicide on a cross-country Amtrak. “Am I in jail?” a sleeping-pill-addled Hsu reportedly asked the conductor. “No, you’re in Colorado,” the conductor replied. But our favorite part of the retelling of the Life of Hsu was his interaction with a goon called “Shrimp Boy.”
Raymond Chow, who acquaintances call Shrimp Boy, says he confronted Mr. Hsu in 1990 on behalf of friends who had invested in the glove business. Mr. Chow — who stands 5-foot-4, is heavily muscled, and has a dragon tattoo on his torso — says that at that time he was an enforcer for the Hop Sing Tong, an association that prosecutors have said was involved in crimes ranging from prostitution to heroin trafficking. Mr. Hsu suggested they collect money stashed at his house. Mr. Chow took the wheel of Mr. Hsu’s new, white Toyota 4Runner; Mr. Hsu rode in the passenger seat.
Following Mr. Hsu’s directions, Mr. Chow made an illegal turn and was pulled over by police. “I’m being kidnapped,” Mr. Hsu told the officers, according to police reports. Mr. Chow and two associates were arrested. But Mr. Chow denied the charges and Mr. Hsu refused to testify, so the case was dropped. “He outsmarted me,” recalls Mr. Chow, who abandoned his collection effort.
And promptly after that, he goes and throws a birthday party for Hillary Clinton. If that’s not the American dream, we don’t know what is.
How a Business Flop Became a Political Force [WSJ]
Earlier: Intel’s coverage of Norman Hsu
it just happened
Breaking: Bob Kerrey Will Not Leave the New School for Senate RunAfter weeks of speculation, Bob Kerrey has announced that he won’t be running for Chuck Hagel’s Senate seat in Nebraska and that he will instead remain president of the New School in New York. “I nearly said yes to leaving,” he said in a statement just released by the school. But, he added, “for my family and me now is not the time for me to reenter politics as a candidate.” Kerrey’s statement did not address worries some Democrats had over his recently revealed connections to jailed controversial fund-raiser Norman Hsu. But he did say he would not stay out of political debates. “I am deeply troubled about the direction of our country. And the idea of returning home to Nebraska to lead a political campaign based on a promise to do my part to change the direction was very appealing,” he explained. “Some argue that university presidents should avoid public debates and controversy. I believe differently and, fortunately for me, so do the trustees of The New School.”
Related: Bob Kerrey, Cockblocker [NYM]
in other news
Will Hathaello Last?So it appears that the Clintons have made another unwise real-estate investment, this time with Raffaello Follieri, more commonly known as Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend. According to today’s Journal, after being introduced to Follieri by an aide, the Clintons got buddy Ron Burkle to invest up to $100 million with the young Italian, who said he was planning on buying and developing property for the Roman Catholic Church. Now Burkle is suing Follieri, alleging that he barely bought any churches and instead used everyone’s investment money to fund a “lavish lifestyle.” This all looks not great for the Clintons: What with Whitewater and Norman Hsu and all, they’re starting to look kind of gullible. Maybe they’ll go into time shares next. But enough about them: What does this mean for Anne and Raffaello?
in other news
Norman Hsu’s Investors Are Hsuing!*So much for the selfless gesture (read public-relations move) that Hillary Clinton and other politicians who accepted donations from disgraced fund-raiser Norman Hsu thought they were going to make by donating the money to charity! The Journal today reports that a judge has ordered Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo, and State Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to hang on to the money, since it probably belongs to the investors Hsu was bilking for his possibly nonexistent menswear business, and said investors have now filed suit to get it back. But oops! Gillibrand has already given her chunk of Hsu change to the Anderson School, a school for autistic children upstate! Now that’s a sticky situation. Does she gracefully accept the total loss of $25K, or does she take the money back from the poor autistic kids? We eagerly await word on who else dropped the dirty cash like a hot potato, and who will subsequently be forced to tell the disadvantaged to go screw themselves.
*Sorry, but we just can’t get enough of the puns.
Fund Manager Files Suit in Hsu Donor Case [WSJ]
in other news
Norman Hsu, Who ARE You?The story of Norman Hsu, the Democratic fund-raiser whose recent arrest created a whole heck of a mess for politicos like Hillary Clinton, gets ever more awesome. For those just tuning in, Hsu was supposed to go to prison for three years back in 1992 for grand theft, but he instead decided to blow off the sentence and fashion a life for himself as a supposed apparel executive and big-time political donor with a flashy Soho apartment and connections to all the right people. And he totally got away with it for fifteen years, until he was arrested last week on an Amtrak. We find Hsu intriguing, not only because of his amazing forehead but because it is just so interesting when people get away with big-ass crimes for a long time. We can’t even, like, jaywalk without getting a ticket. Anyway! Hsu had his court date today, wherein he was extradited back to California, and perhaps in honor of that, WWD has a big story that fills in some of the questions about his background. Before he became a big-time political donor and “apparel executive” for, he told people, luxury brands like Prada, Hsu spent a chunk of the eighties importing menswear, “driving a sportscar,” and generally yupping it up out in L.A. Though much of his life is still a mystery, WWD did manage to dig up some interesting details. After the jump, a few Norman Hsu Fun Facts.
in other news
If the Hsu FitsWe have such a complicated relationship with “Hillraiser” and former Soho resident Norman Hsu. On the one hand, we sort of find him physically endearing, with that forehead and those treasure-troll eyes. Plus we felt bad about his whole suicide thing, and, as we said yesterday, we like the fact that he donated his several dollars to places like the Innocence Project. On the other hand, he’s more or less a thief and a wimp, and when crooks like him donate to charity, it is usually for self-aggrandizing rather than a genuinely charitable reasons. But we digress! Yesterday Hsu’s bail was set at $5 million dollars, and we’re wondering what will happen when he appears in court again on Wednesday. In the meantime, the L.A. Times has a good piece about how campaign “bundlers” like Hsu work.
Hsu Thrived on “Bundling” System [LAT]
in other news
A Man Named HsuOh, crap. The Wall Street Journal today reveals a sad new twist in the story of Norman Hsu. It appears that the Hillary Clinton fund-raiser/alleged Ponzi-schemer may have tried to commit suicide on the Chicago-bound Amtrak train where he was arrested. Before getting on the train in California, Hsu FedExed a letter to a number of people in which, the Journal reports, he “very explicitly said he intended to commit suicide.”
in other news
The Other Hsu DropsThe Journal today has more details today about our new favorite person: large-headed political financier Norman Hsu. Specifically that the money Hsu was giving to Democrats like Hillary Clinton and State Representative Kirsten Gillibrand — and the cash for the $2 million bond he posted to get out of jail this month when he was arrested in Colorado — came from none other than Woodstock co-creator Joel Rosenman’s Source Financing Investors, who invested $40 million dollars earlier this year in Components, a company owned by Hsu, which supposedly financed the production of apparel from luxury labels like Gucci and Prada, but apparently mostly financed Hsu’s own luxury lifestyle. “Recent revelations,” Rosenman told the Journal, “led us to believe that payments due on our recent transactions with Components and Hsu may not be made.” Um, yeah. The headlines today are all about how bad this looks for Clinton, but frankly, the fact that Rosenman invested in a guy whose résumé includes outstanding warrants for grand theft and fraud in the first place worries us more. Did dude get hit in the head during the GN’R mud-mosh at Woodstock 1994? Why don’t you just cruise on over to Canal Street, Rosenman? There are some guys down there who need their Louis Vuitton production funded, too. Also, we got this letter from this nice Nigerian guy
Sixties Figure Says He Financed Donor Hsu [WSJ]
Mayor Bloomberg Smooches Janice MinDanny Fields, manager of Iggy Pop and the Ramones, filed a $100-million suit against Out magazine for making him seem like a pedophile. Heath Ledger crashed a party at the Bowery Hotel with three Australian friends and drank champagne. Mayor Bloomberg kissed Janice Min after Us Weekly named him one of the 25 Most Stylish New Yorkers. Kanye West bailed on gigs at the Today show, Letterman, and TRL because he doesn’t think he needs to promote his new album. Jennifer Hudson will play Sarah Jessica Parker’s assistant in the Sex and the City movie. Wilmer Valderrama took Mandy Moore shopping for blazers at Saks. Damien Hirst didn’t know who the Olsen twins were before they came to his party at the Prada store on Friday.
in other news
So Hsu HerWe’ve been ignoring this offensively wonky Hillary Clinton story until now, but today it’s just gotten too good. Hillary woke up a tiny bit poorer this morning after her campaign gave up $850,000 worth of campaign contributions that came via Norman Hsu, the mysterious fund-raiser/consultant who ended up in jail last week. Hsu was arrested in Colorado when he became ill on an Amtrak train, which he was riding because he was attempting to evade a court appearance in which he’d be charged with fraud for running a Ponzi scheme back in 1992. A generally mysterious and fascinating character, Hsu had, according to the Times, a “luxury apartment” in Soho, a business partner with the hilarious name of Winkle Paw, and a huge amount of money he liked to give to Democrats. It’s unclear what the source of Mr. Hsu’s wealth was, although he does appear to be stashing something in his giant forehead. We expect/hope more nutjobness will ensue.
Clinton’s Campaign to Return $850,000 [WP]
it happened this week
Hitting the RoadAs a halfhearted cabbie strike made it easier to flag down a school bus than a yellow taxi during rush hour last week, the Big Apple did its best to keep moving forward. Hillary out-earned rivals Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani in the city during the second quarter — and bested Rudy in a poll asking which candidate people would most like to have riding shotgun on a long road trip — but hit a speed bump trying to maintain her distance from former six-figure fund-raiser and felon Norman Hsu, who skipped out on bail.