Money & Happiness: The Story of Louis Bacon and Peter Nygard
It’s said that money can’t buy happiness. And the story of what transpired between two billionaires, one of whom owns a residence in Southampton, is a perfect example of it.
In 1993, Louis Bacon, a buttoned-up, mild-mannered hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist bought Robins Island, a small 435-acre private island in Peconic Bay just north of Southampton and in its tax district. A prior owner wanted to develop it. Bacon saved it. And he still owns it today. There’s a small cabin on the island where he and his friends can go. But other than that, it is a nature preserve. Animals and birds are in the wild. Bacon sees to this.
Around 2005, Bacon purchased a secluded estate on Lyford Cay, a gated community on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. There was a neighbor next to his property. But one might imagine that would be no problem.
The neighbor was also a billionaire, or near one. He’d made his money in the fashion industry with a clothing line and high-end stores in fashionable locations around the world. They’d share a driveway. What could go wrong?
Down this long driveway, Bacon refurbished a manor tucked away for peace and quiet. A gracious host, Bacon’s guests played croquet. Or enjoyed walks down the private beach.
On the other side, he soon found out, was Peter Nygard, a party animal who at his residence in Winnipeg was revered as some sort of Canadian Hugh Hefner.
His home on the island was practically a resort. There were statues of roaring lions and smoke-breathing snakes. There was a dance floor, a disco, a swimming pool that featured a stripper pole and a faux Mayan temple where bearers lit torches in the evening. There was a human aquarium where topless women in mermaid-tail suits cavorted.
Lots of beautiful women attended these parties and most of them arrived by car, parking on both sides of the common driveway before the walk to Nygard’s pleasure palace.
Bacon sent a note to Nygard, asking politely to please keep the volume down. (Nygard once told an interviewer that his attempt at celibacy was the worst 20 minutes of his life.) And so still, the women came.
Bacon asked that Nygard’s party friends not park on his side of the common driveway. The request was ignored. So Bacon, according to Vanity Fair, had “the section of the driveway that cuts through his property re-graded and rebuilt, adding a dip and tall flagstone walls on either side, leaving no shoulder space” for parking.
After this, things went from bad to worse. Nygard filed suit in 2015 claiming Bacon may have driven a groundskeeper across the property line to set a fire that heavily damaged Nygard’s pleasure palace.
After that, Nygard publicly claimed that Bacon was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and allegedly arranged a “hate march” to harass Bacon, according to court documents.
This backfired, however. Permits were needed for Nygard to rebuild what had burned. Now, with the humiliation of the parade, the government of the Bahamas denied Nygard a permit.
Lawyers now became involved with all this. Costs were well into the millions.
Next came the establishment of a “Save the Bays” organization which Bacon and other residents set up, according to Vanity Fair. This organization got the Bahamian government to file charges against Nygard for moving sand from the nearby shoreline to his property to lengthen the beach by 3 acres. In 2018, the government temporarily seized some of Nygard’s property over illegal dredging and in 2019 issued a warrant for Nygard’s arrest for ignoring court hearings.
And then there was a rumor that Nygard had hired some Bahamian thugs to kill Bacon and his family. As a result, Bacon hired a former Scotland Yard detective to investigate the matter and also provide security protection for him.
About this time the “Me Too” movement moved to the fore. Women were telling all. And suddenly – The New York Times reported that Bacon had backed this – an organization called “Sanctuary” filed a lawsuit in which 10 women said that as teenagers Nygard raped them when they were at his pleasure palace.
And then there were further Me Too claims against Nygard.
More lawsuits were filed. And since some of these claims were from women in Canada, the authorities in Winnipeg arrested Nygard in December 2020. He has been in a Canadian jail ever since, awaiting trial in Toronto, now scheduled for this coming September, for six counts of sexual assault and three of forceable confinement. After that, he will be extradited to the United States to face dozens of charges such as sex trafficking and racketeering.
In November 2019, Bacon announced that he was consolidating Moore Capital’s main funds into one proprietary vehicle, and would return money to investors. Numerous reports said the firm had not been as successful as it was earlier anyway.
Nope. Money can’t buy happiness.