Guess what iconographic villain of greed and wretched excess may be seeing the light of day as soon as this August? None other than Prisoner 05A4820 himself! What's that, the number doesn’t ring a bell? Then, try this on for size: Dennis Kozlowski, or ‘Koz’ as his fellow inmates call him, may soon be reentering mainstream society.
Next to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling (a.k.a. the Hitler & Goebbels of corporate greed), Dennis Kozlowski was the poster child for living large and milking a company dry. To refresh your memory, Kozlowski was convicted in 2005 of grand larceny, conspiracy and fraud for, as The New York Times put it, ‘…essentially using Tyco as his own piggy bank, replete with outsized bonuses.’
Koz was the guy who reigned supreme from a palatial, 13-room palace at 980 Fifth Avenue that featured a $6,000 shower curtain, a $15,000 umbrella stand and the occasional Monet or Renoir painting. He’s also the dude who feted his wife to a truly bacchanalian, Roman orgy-type of birthday party on a Greek Island (all at company expense, thank you very much).
But, apparently, Prisoner 05A4820 has been a very good boy since being sentenced to a term of 8 1/3 to 25 years in an upstate New York prison. Reports indicate he’s even encouraged his fellow cons to pursue higher education (no doubt suggesting they pay special attention to boning up on financial irregularities, accounting fraud and tax loopholes).
Assuming this real life Gordon Gekko of greed does see the light of day, how would you help him rehabilitate his tattered image?
Would you suggest a Michael Milken-type strategy such as the one that saw the evil junk bond trader transform himself into an advocate for, and lead fundraiser of, prostate cancer awareness? Or, would you play to the rapacious robber’s strengths and align Koz’s past with the needs of today’s marketers? I’d go for the low-hanging fruit (grapes, or otherwise):
- Koz’s Cretan Cruises would take you to some of the most exclusive and erotic venues in the Greek Isles. These all-inclusive romps for the uber wealthy would feature all the wine, groping and gorging the masters and mistresses of the universes could possibly handle. And, naturally, monogrammed togas would be distributed to one and all.
- Carpe Diem with Koz would be a ‘holistic lifestyle ranch’ for the well-heeled morbidly obese. Catered exclusively by purveyors of empty calories and festooned with all the accoutrements necessary for the king and queen of couch potatoes to gorge themselves while remaining perfectly sedentary, Carpe Diem with Koz would even provide a money-back guarantee (‘The only thing you’ll take off after two weeks at Carpe Diem with Koz will be two years from your life expectancy!’).
- Rebel without a Koz would be the ultimate one percenter’s version of The Sharper Image. Want a $40,000 pair of boxer shorts for that very special occasion? Go to www.rebelwithoutakoz.com and you’ll find the only such selection in the universe. Need a platinum-encrusted vacuum cleaner for that one day each month the damn maid calls in sick? We’ve got some beauties beginning at $29,999.95. Or, maybe it’s time to forget about feeding the homeless and take care of number one for a change. If so, you’ll find real Nubian slaves available for hire on a daily, weekly or eternal basis (note: for that extra special touch, we’ll even handle castration. Imagine being the first one percenter to have your very own eunuch? Talk about keeping up with the Joneses. Let’s see Lloyd Blankfein top that!).
I cannot wait to see how Dennis Kozlowski comports himself when he does re-enter society. Oh, and by the way, Koz: I’m happy to flesh out any of these ideas and provide you with a full-blown business plan. But, I’ll need my own Repman-monogrammed toga in advance.