By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine noted that Dallas Mavericks and HDNet owner Mark Cuban is the 437th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.
An 11-month investigation of Cuban's assets, however, reveals a different figure: $1.3 hundred thousand.
"Mr. Cuban's spending is unlike anything I've seen in human history," says Joseph Kragnor, chief investigative accountant at McGill & Rogers Accounting. "Why do you think he dresses like he does? Because, in billionaire terms, he's broke."
Cuban declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story. His only response was via e-mail, did not relate to any specific point of this report and repeatedly used the term "douchebag."
Cuban's apparent fall from super-rich magnate to just rich guy trying to live like he's super rich is not without precedent. As D magazine noted in its annual "Not a White Model on the Cover Issue" of 2003, rumors abound that Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is merely rich. But our report is so much better. To wit:
··· Cuban is spending at a record pace. In the past six months, his Amazon.com and eBay purchases, obtained through the Open Records Act, total $218.7 million. To be fair, he got a sweet deal on an NEC MobilePro 780 for $159 plus free shipping using "Buy It Now."
·· ·A thorough review of his P&L's shows a 9 percent decrease in core monthly returns once one-time write-offs are factored and expense budgets are tallied.
·· ·Because of the tax law revision passed last year, Cuban has experienced a Bracket Creep factor of 2. This alone causes a change of quantity supplied within his tax return of more than half his net worth. What that means in terms of actual dollars lost is unclear, but obviously huge.
·· ·Cuban's investments have taken a severe beating during the past year. His stake in a BW Ltd., a company that supported a change to the Bretton Woods international monetary system--wherein the value of the dollar was fixed in terms of gold and every other country held its currency at a fixed exchange rate against the dollar so that, when trade deficits occurred, the central bank of the deficit country financed the difference with its reserves of international currencies--seemed ill-conceived, considering the system hasn't been used since 1973. This cost him $191 million.
·· ·Even more confusing, Cuban spent $78 million to fund a Web site promoting the political goal of re-instituting the Corn Laws of 19th-century England, which placed tariffs on grain imports and thereby increased the value of English farmland. His return on this investment was minimal, and in corn.
·· ·Ignoring the Equation of Exchange (M x T = P x Q) and blindly hoping the Fisher Effect would change interest rates to his liking, Cuban took out a $250 million loan at 11.7 percent compound interest tied to the COSI index. He even agreed to a balloon payment.
·· ·Finally, investors this week pulled $10 million from his ABC show The Benefactor when it was announced he will open each show with a monologue.
"He's toast," says Kragnor, who issued his findings April 1. "Looks like now he'll be wearing that hairdo because it's all he can afford."
Jabari Sought Own Death
In an exclusive report, the Dallas Observer has learned that an internal investigation will show that Jabari, the gorilla gunned down at the Dallas Zoo by police officers, intended to die when he escaped from his two-acre enclosure on March 18.
"We think we have what amounts to a suicide note," assistant zookeeper Eddy Foster says in one of the documents. Foster, known to most zoo personnel as "Bananas," worked closely with Jabari during his 13-year stay at the zoo. "I mean, it was written in feces, so it's a bit hard to read. But I can tell you that he had indicated he wanted to kill himself a number of times."
When asked by investigators what kind of gestures would lead Foster to believe Jabari was thinking about suicide, Foster allowed that the gorilla may have just been manually stimulating himself. But, he added, "there was definitely a look in his eyes."
While "suicide by cop"--as the practice is known by law enforcement officials--is somewhat common among humans, Jabari is believed to be the first gorilla to use it. Most troublesome to Dallas Zoo administrators is that more animals at the facility may follow Jabari's tragic lead.
"I'm not going to lie to you--they're not very happy being here," head zookeeper Parker Nix says, when reached by phone early Tuesday morning. "Lions, tigers, bears--none of 'em. But we've never had one try something like this. Now that they know it's possible, who knows what could happen? I've got a giraffe over there that would do it just to see the look on my goddamned face, you know what I mean?"
Immediately following Jabari's death, the zoo flew in special animal grief counselors, including Jack Hannah, to work with the remaining animals. The Saturday session turned into a wake of sorts for Jabari, extending well into the night and resulting in at least one 911 call, records show.