By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
As for Pickens, he has on his own disassembled much of his high-profile life.
He has resigned from the boards of other major companies and reduced his public speaking engagements. His name isn't getting bandied about this time as a potential gubernatorial prospect. And in Dallas district court, his marriage to a woman whom he described in his book as his "best deal" is disintegrating.
Beatrice Pickens, 65, is seeking $28,035 in total monthly expenses from her famous husband. The couple's Neiman Marcus account, now part of the court record, helps explain some of that. She paid $1,266 for an Ungaro dress, and her balance at Neiman's one month totaled $14,729.
It would be easy to draw a picture of Pickens as a man besieged--first betrayed by his former protege, now being sued by his wife.
But however his divorce plays out, Pickens refuses to accept any suggestion that he was beaten by Batchelder.
"Batchelder...bagged his old boss," Forbes magazine reporter Seth Lubove wrote in the July 15, 1996, issue shortly after Pickens' resignation from Mesa was disclosed.
Batchelder succeeded in dragging his former mentor into an ego-driven and emotional fight--with diminishing financial returns for both sides. (Batchelder concedes he may have made a mere $20,000 profit for his client Dennis Washington on the Mesa battle.) Viewed through the prism of his final bout with Batchelder, Pickens' principled past stances on shareholders' rights suddenly appear dim, at best. Burning bright is a sad picture: one of Dallas' most renowned businessmen bungling critical business decisions and littering his life with embittered endings.
In the old days Pickens and Batchelder used to squeeze a game of racquetball in at least once a week. Typically, Pickens and Batchelder held the first and second slots in the racquetball rankings that Mesa kept as a matter of corporate policy. Usually, Batchelder concedes, Pickens beat him and held the top slot. But Batchelder's losses did not reflect a lack of effort.
"I tried to beat him," says Batchelder, who explicitly remembers that when he left the company he was--for that week--ahead of Pickens in the racquetball standings.
Strangely, Pickens recalled those matches, too, standing under the chandeliers of the Omni Hotel for Mesa's annual meeting two weeks after Forbes had proclaimed Batchelder's victory over his old boss.
The published connotation was still eating at Pickens. Though he still declined to be interviewed for this story, he took time to clear the record about the Forbes account.
"To say David Batchelder bagged me--that was a joke," Pickens insisted. "He never beat me at racquetball or anything else. Time beat me.
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