OBITUARY: Nelson Bunker Hunt, Texas tycoon who lost billions in silver gamble, dies at 88 – by Robert D. McFadden (Globe and Mail – October 22, 2014)
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The New York Times News Service – Nelson Bunker Hunt, the down-home Texas oil tycoon who owned a thousand race horses, drove an old Cadillac and once tried to corner the world’s silver market only to lose most of his fortune when the price collapsed, died Tuesday. He was 88.
Hunt died after a long battle with cancer and dementia, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“A billion dollars ain’t what it used to be,” he said in 1980 after silver stakes he amassed with two brothers, Herbert and Lamar, fell to $10.80 from $50.35 an ounce. In barely two months, their holdings and contracts for purchases – corralling a third to half the world’s deliverable silver – had plunged from a $7-billion value in January to a $1.7-billion loss in March.
With the Hunts unable to cover enormous margin calls, the debacle endangered financial markets and brokerage houses, forcing federal regulators and the nation’s banks to step in with a $1-billion line of credit, a bailout that saved the system from a stampede and the Hunts from an immediate meltdown.
But for Bunker Hunt, who used his middle name, and his brothers – scions of one of the world’s richest clans – the boom and bust led to years of lawsuits, civil charges, fines, damage claims and bankruptcy proceedings that gobbled up vast holdings in real estate, oil, gas, cattle, coal, thoroughbred stables and other assets. Still, they managed to salvage millions and were not subjected to criminal charges. Read the rest of this entry »