No home. 3 small kids. A 20-year battle.
One of my closest friends has faced this reality. Every time I think about it, I get emotional. It’s a complex reality, so don’t judge too quickly.
Yesterday, it all came to a head. A massive explosion of emotion.
I’m on the phone with him. We’re talking smack about Toyotas and how I might buy my wife one.
“I’ve got something to tell you. So, I solved the mystery. I worked out why my life has been a nightmare, and why my kids have grown up never knowing what it’s like to have a home.”
My throat began to close. My heart started beating faster.
The small details are so easy to miss
For the last 20 years, he’s always blamed himself for losing his $100M fortune he earned from property.
All those years ago a small legal case against him popped up out of nowhere. His lawyer was handling it. One day he gets the call.
“I’m sorry, but he tried to help a young woman who was being physically hurt by a bikie in the middle of a city. The bikie shot him in the head.”
The resolution to the legal case went to the grave with my friend’s lawyer. He’s not sure how the small case became big enough to take down his empire.
But there’s more to the story…
Before the whole legal case and lawyer dying nightmare, my friend’s property business was killing it.
Everyone wanted to do deals with him.
He found himself bang smack in the middle of a land opportunity. There was an old supermarket and Walmart-type store on the site. He’d managed to find a buyer and a seller.
The deal he negotiated was so good that his bank agreed to loan all the money with no deposit. This is unheard of. That’s how good the price of the property was.
All he had to do was go to the offices of a well-known property firm, meet all parties, and sign the paperwork. On the day he was over the moon.
He’d pocket an easy $6M.
The bank was going to transfer the funds straight to the owner of a mansion that he was about to purchase.
Before going to the meeting he stopped by his dad’s house to tell him the good news. He wanted him to be proud of his son, and for following in his footsteps. After the quick chat he headed to the office for the big moment.
He got out of the lift in his best pinstripe suit. He walked down the hallway the way a high roller at a Las Vegas casino with a cigar in their mouth would.
Out of nowhere a strange man shakes his hand and says hello, then keeps walking.
Turns out this man is the owner of the real estate firm he’s about to sign a tri-party deal with. He didn’t think anything of it.
As soon as he walks into the meeting room something feels off.
He can tell straight away that the deal isn’t going to happen.
In hindsight, had this deal happened, he would’ve had the money to avoid losing his entire empire to a bizarre legal case his dead lawyer couldn’t defend from the grave.
20 years of torture
For the last 20 years he’s tortured and blamed himself.
I’ve listened to much of it on our long phone calls. But the phone call yesterday came full circle.
His wife figured out what happened. See, before this $6M deal there was another one just like it. His father, who also works in property, admitted to ringing both sides of the deal and sabotaging it.
It was always thought to have been a one-off.
No one knows why a father would deliberately kill their son’s career. The worst part is, my friend could never think in a million years that his dad would go against him.
Yesterday it all clicked on the phone.
The man my friend met in the hallway before the deal collapsed knew his father. Between the ten minutes it took to get from his dad’s home to the meeting, his father rang the owner of the firm, who had nothing to do with the deal, and told him to kill it.
Likely a line such as “my son can’t be trusted” was all it took.
Then when my friend got out of the elevator and shook the owner’s hand, he knew his name (when he shouldn’t have) because he’d just gotten off the phone to his father. Looking back, the gaze in the owner’s mind screamed evil.
It’s only taken 20 years to understand the tiny handshake in the hallway.
But there’s more…
Another detail never made sense.
Why did the bank stop financing my friend’s deal before the collapse of his empire?
When the legal issue happened, why did his lawyer not solve it before his fateful death? It was a small legal issue, after all. And why didn’t his accountant step in to help either.
There’s one common denominator: his father.
His banker knew his father’s banker. He shared the same accountant with his father. And his lawyer had done work for his father too.
It turns out his dad told all of these professionals to abandon his son.
So when he needed help during his darkest hour, no one came to save him, even though he thought they were doing the job he paid them for.
Why’d his father do it?
His father is a jealous and selfish man with a $200M+ net worth.
During coroni-rona he bought emergency supplies, locked himself up in his mansion, and hid his Bentley out of fear.
No one saw him for a long time.
Jealously meant he couldn’t even see his own son beat him at this stupid wealth accumulation game.
The words I’ve waited years to hear
This story has a bloody good ending.
At the end of yesterday’s phone call he uttered these words:
“The last two days have been the best of my life. I’m free.”
For the last 20 years he’s blamed himself. He’s questioned his skills. He’s put his family through hell. Now it’s over.
His father destroyed his life out of envy. But now he’s free, he’s going to rebuild his life. That’s why he’s doing deals again. It’s not fancy.
He still lives inside cheap motels with his wife and three kids. He still has nothing — except, he has his confidence back, which is all he needs.
The pieces of his life’s puzzle now all make sense.
I’m on the edge of my seat. I know he’s going to make a massive comeback.
His final challenge is time.
As a lifelong heavy smoker, the chance he’ll escape lung cancer is low. The last 20 years have seen his heart and lung health decline.
So now he has to make a comeback, get his three kids a house to live in, and leave behind a legacy before the inevitable end comes.
Lessons from 20 years of adversity
- Careful who you trust
- A partner that sticks with you through hard times when they don’t have to is one to hold on to for life. (His wife is the hero of this story.)
- Succeed in silence. Don’t make too much noise — that’s how envious people can take away what you’ve worked for.
- Do your due diligence on everyone. Look for red flags. If you spot one, it’s better not to work with them than risk it. Trust is the currency of life.
- Never let another person have all the keys to your financial future.
One thing’s for sure: my friend’s father will die alone in that mansion with his stupid Bentley. We can only hope he comes to his senses before the end.
Family doesn’t always want the best for you.
We’re not all born with perfect parents.