Get Ready to Be Slapped!
What's that sound coming from the White House? Could it possibly be an angry rebuke from President Obama toward John Thain and his $1.2 million redecorated office? Consider it more of a slap.
The new president's voice barely registered emotion as he criticized Merill Lynch's last chief executive for spending big when banks came begging to Washington. But Obama didn't bother to utter Thain's name as he talked to reporters before a meeting Friday with lawmakers about economic stimulus proposals.
Thain lost his job Thursday heading up Bank of America's wealth management and corporate and investment banking divisions. He went to work there after Bank of America bought Merill, but lasted less than a month.
Thain's spending spree during a period of pain for Merill Lynch, which was first reported by CNBC's Charlie Gasparino, was only part of the reason for his dismissal. Thain clashed with BofA CEO Ken Lewis, as Lewis had to deal with losses bigger than expected.
In his report filed for CNBC and The Daily Beast, Gasparino outlined the expenses:
Thain spent $1.22 million of company money to refurbish his office at Merrill Lynch headquarters in lower Manhattan. The biggest piece of the spending spree: $800,000 to hire famed celebrity designer Michael Smith, who is currently redesigning the White House for the Obama family for just $100,000.
The other big ticket items Thain purchased include: $87,000 for an area rug in Thain's conference room and another area rug for $44,000; a "mahogany pedestal table" for $25,000; a "19th Century Credenza" in Thain's office for $68,000; a sofa for $15,000; four pairs of curtains for $28,000; a pair of guest chairs for $87,000; a "George IV Desk" for $18,000; six wall sconces for $2,700; six chairs in his private dining room for $37,000; a mirror in his private dining room for $5,000; a chandelier in the private dining room for $13,000; fabric for a "Roman Shade" for $11,000; a "custom coffee table" for $16,000; something called a "commode on legs" for $35,000; a "Regency Chairs" for $24,000; "40 yards of fabric for wall panels," for $5,000 and a "parchment waste can" for $1,400.
For all that, it would seem that Thain deserved more condemnation from the President of the United States, who will preside over the next phase of the government's $700 billion bailout of financial institutions. Maybe Obama should have take a lesson from this guy.