Muffie Benson-Perella (muffie AT muffmarkets.com) was an Associate in the Investment Banking Division of a "Bulge Bracket" bank. She holds a B.A. in French and Art from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She concentrated in Contemporary French Poetry at prep school where she was awarded the exclusive premiership of the school's "French Club." Today, Ms. Benson-Perella is the Founder and Managing Director of "Muffie on Markets" (http://www.muffmarkets.com), a deep dive into capital markets, finance and investment strategy. She is also the Founder and Managing Director of Muff Cap, LLC., an invitation only, private investment vehicle for non-existent, prestigious and accredited investors only, employing an actively managed, long-short strategy.
There are few things as shameful as the deteriorating state of art and culture in this country. It will come as no surprise to my loyal readers, then, that the subtle, magnificent craft of portraiture appears utterly lost in a thick fog of mediocrity and a pretentious depthlessness. Of course, I can only refer to the latest visual representation of Marc S. Drier (for I cannot bring myself to call it a "picture" or "drawing" much less "art.")
It is the essence of such representations that their creation at least attempt to rise to the level of their subject. In this case, admittedly, that is a tall order. The almost uniformly elegantly dressed Senior Partner of Park Avenue law firm Dreier LLP, Dreier presents a rich, complex texture, shot through with conflicts, dark veins of opposing forces, their churning opposition pressing the envelopes of the psyche, yearning for nothing but escape, escape, escape. Contrast the subtle signs of whirlwinds below the impeccable exterior with the rarely seen, but palpable, open, unshorn rouge and we can forgive him his undergraduate transgressions at Yale, for he certainly redeemed himself at Harvard Law thereafter, and this institutional combination, fatal in any weaker, less featured personality, permits Dreier to wear scruff like a bright ascot, an opportunity he occasionally indulges to juxtapose polished Fifth Avenue class with the suggestion that "That whole Yale thing" might not be that far from the surface, even after all these years.
There is a brazen yet subtle boldness in Dreier, the kind of audacity that mounts his brilliant deceptions in full view of the world, in the fishbowl of a glass-walled conference room, taunting the prospect of discovery as office staff who might at any time recognize him, call him the wrong name, plunge him into drowning, downward spiraling agony, walk by and casually glance through ethereal walls of glass that offer scant protection. The pulsing rhythm of office traversal, and throbbing mechanics of discovery. And who can deny the social genius of targeting Canadian Teachers and U. S. Real Estate firms as the foils of a fraud designed to sap the savviest of hedge funds? The very fabric of his machinations: wry social commentary.
The obvious trappings are all there. The house in the Hamptons. The Manhattan triplex. The Ocean Avenue Santa Monica address. Even selection and placement of his self-propelled carriages, carefully chosen and always mindful of context. The Mercedes 500 for The City. The Aston Martin for the left coast. Upscale, but elegant. Nothing so crass or tasteless as a Rolls or that horrid Bentley Continental (That Ricardo Montalbán is not a spokesman for its "rich Corinthian leather" can only be a consequence of the former's recent passing). The 120 foot Heesen shuttled between Manhattan and St. Maarten. No "Monkey Business" here. A simple, understated "Seascape." No effort here to mingle with the overdone politics on Mustique. No signs of effort standing out on the forehead while emitting the slowly developed and carefully studied faux British accent, no desperately strained expressions to maintain the RP.
Yes, the Seascape became the late night forum for a younger crowd after his divorce, some might label him a knavish rogue for his post-marital-segregation dalliances with youth, but the alternative, a slow descent into the more obvious failings of age, was unappealing and he possessed of the wherewithal to resist it. This we must recognize and admire. Even his art collections show signs of careful (if somewhat cliche) thought, with Rothko, Haring, Warhol's Onassis, Picasso, and the odd Matisse- and these... snatched at the last minute, their purloining somehow arranged by Dreier via public phone from his detention facilities. So too the shuffling of millions of dollars by wire. What brilliance. What gall. What... daring effrontery.
And what are we to make of this complex, deeply and multifaceted subject? Who shall capture this great moment and seal in a bottle to steel against times ravages all this rich character? What representation is history to enjoy of the moment marking the beginning of his great tour of American jurisprudence?
A pale, flat effort. Only dimly reflecting the deep contrasts of a critically important subject. Only in passing drawing out the scruffy conflict that is Marc Dreier. Entirely missing the opportunity to indulge the white stubble that screams "Yale! Yale! Yale!" and the hooked nose that protests "Harvard! Harvard! Crimson Forever!" We are given, not a triumph of cathartic revelation, the real Dreier at last for all to see, defiant before his persecutors, but instead, a featureless, depthless stranger, distant and drowning in a sea of dark yellow piss. It pains me even to look upon it.
Dreier, Jailed Lawyer, Indicted in $400 Million Fraud Scheme [Bloomberg]