So I’m out and about in the town of London again, and the first thing I’m asked about is teddy bears.
Hedge fund manager’s teddy bears to be exact.
It’s all to do with the bad behaviour of one Paul Greenwood and his colleague who defrauded people by doing a Bernie Madoff style Ponzi fund scheme. Sure, the hedge fund manager had invested his customers’ funds, but a lot of it went into buying property, fast cars and teddy bears for himself!
In fact he acquired almost 150 rare teddy bears, along with 1,150 other rare toys including monkeys, elephants, mice and more.
Mr. Greenwood’s entire collection of rare stuffed toys goes on sale in Christie’s this week to pay off a little of the $331 million he’s defrauded from clients, a small matter that might result in him getting up to 85 years in jail when he’s sentenced later this year.
In the collection are original Stieff teddy bears, including the first ever Stieff toy sold and the rarest bear in the world, which is the Harlequin Stieff bear made in the 1920s and never sold commercially. This is the only one known to be available, and is valued at around $150,000 on its own.
In total, the collection looks set to be sold for around $2.5 million, which is $500,000 less than the $3 million Mr. Greenwood paid out to accumulate the collection over the past fifteen years.
Nothing like a cuddly bear is there?
Funnily enough, when someone asked me about banking and teddy bears, I thought they were referring to something completely different as I use a teddy bear story in many of my presentations to explain why retailers are bad at banking.
In this case, the story is about Harrods Bank.
Did you know they have a bank?
They sure do.
In the back of the lower ground floor of Harrods store in Knightsbridge you will find the Harrods Bank, a very prestigious institution that’s been around since 1893, and caters for very high net worth Sloane Rangers.
What is it about this bank?
Well, I always remember the story from the 1980s of the store hiring a very senior chappie from the then Midland Bank to run the branch.
He was a fusty old banking sort and was very upset with the way the branch was run, especially as it was located next to the toy department.
In particular, he did not like the fact that his rich clientele had to walk past a large teddy bear display to get into the branch, and so he complained to the store owner about the situation, asking for the bears to be moved.
The answer came back: “when your branch makes as much profit per square foot as those bears do, then we will move them. Until then, live with it.”
So much for retailers and banking.