John Thain, the former Merrill Lynch & Co. chief executive officer who was kicked to the curb yesterday
shares something in common with President Obama, the same decorator. Thain spent $1.2 million redecorating his Manhattan office last year at a time when the company was in turmoil. Bloomberg reports that his decorator
was Michael Smith, who chosen by the Obamas to redecorate the White House.
Thain's office includes a $25,000 pedestal table and a $68,000 19th Century credenza as well as $87,000 spent in area rugs. More than just the furnishings led to Thain's troubles, he also went on a ski trip to Vail, Colorado at what was considered a crucial time for the company
and was planning to attend the upcoming Davos meeting, even though parent company Bank of America had advised against it.
Critics say that spending the company money on the renovation at a time when the company was in peril sends a bad message and that if he wanted to redesign his office he should have paid for it himself. President Obama has said that the government will scrutinize companies that have been given taxpayer assistance to make sure they are spending appropriately. The Bloomberg article does quote an antiques dealer who states that the antiques will likely hold their value. This may well be true but I can't help but think of the case of Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski and his infamous antique desk
which was worth far less than he paid for it.