Eight years before Hunter Biden was born, Eddie Gilbert went on the lam. It was 1962, and as TIME put it, the feds were after him for “making a false … report and misappropriating $1,953,000 of the funds of the E. L. Bruce Co., Inc., the lumber milling giant that he had bossed before fleeing,” “twelve New York State charges of grand larceny,” and “a U.S. tax lien amounting to $3,500,000.”
The Wall Street wizard who had grown accustomed to his chauffeured Rolls Royce -- and what The Saturday Evening Post described as a “Fifth Avenue apartment filled with French furniture” and “paneled in carved fruitwood so expensive that it would have been cheaper to paper the walls with dollar bills” -- faced a prison sentence of nearly two centuries. Gilbert eventually returned to America, and after pleading guilty, served just a couple of years in prison.
But for Gilbert, old habits died hard. In 1980, The New York Times reported that he “and two other men were indicted in a Manhattan Federal court, accused of a conspiracy in 1975 to manipulate the stock of the Conrac Corporation, a producer of data-handling and telecommunications equipment.” Gilbert was again found guilty, and again sent off to prison.
In Santa Fe.
Gilbert moved to New Mexico at the suggestion of “Peaches,” his fourth wife. He founded BGK Group with Ed Burman and Fred Kolber, and less than a decade into the firm’s existence, a Forbes profile found that it commanded “a collection of affiliated corporations that, through 90 real estate limited partnerships, controls 230 properties in 25 states.” Gilbert tapped “1,500 limited partners, among them many seasoned investors” to build his real-estate empire, and “made himself a fortune” along the way.
As Gilbert grew richer and richer, he established himself as a major donor to big-name Democratic Party pols, including former New Mexico governor and onetime presidential candidate Bill Richardson. (Their relationship paid dividends -- in December 2010, Gilbert was granted clemency by his pal on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse.) Current governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was a recipient of contributions as well, as were both of New Mexico’s current members of the U.S. Senate.
The state’s media, rather than probe BGK’s business practices and its boss’s campaign largesse, chose to largely ignore Gilbert -- except for an occasional puff profile. In 2007, New Mexico Business Weekly gushed that at “an age when his peers are either in their graves or rocking chairs,” he was “at the peak of his career.” Gilbert had become “a New Mexico king maker,” swooned “reporter” Steve Ginsberg.
Others had their doubts. In a 2009 post on his blog, national journalist and Santa Fean George Johnson was curious as to why the local daily had so little interest in one of the city’s wealthiest residents: “A search of [the Santa Fe New Mexican’s] archives turns up a few glancing mentions of the man: there was the time Mr. Gilbert invested in an unsuccessful revival of the Palace Restaurant … and the summer when a bear lumbered onto the Gilberts’ three-acre estate on Camino del Monte Sol. You can’t buy that kind of nonpublicity. One more reason, I suppose, for living in Santa Fe.”
In 2010, BGK combined with “Rosemont Real Estate, a subsidiary of Rosemont Capital LLC,” and became Rosemont Realty.
And here’s where Hunter Biden enters the story.
The Great Recession, New Mexico Business Weekly reported, was “unkind to BGK Group” -- it had not “made an acquisition in two years, and its value had gone from $3 billion to around $1.5 billion.” Fortunately, “New York’s Rosemont Capital had access to the Heinz ketchup fortune and a hunger to build a real estate portfolio.” (John Kerry, a former senator and secretary of state who was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004, married into the family by wedding U.S. Senator John Heinz’s widow Teresa in 1995.) Rosemont Capital was founded by Chris Heinz and Devon Archer, a roommate of the late senator’s son at Yale. Archer currently awaits sentencing for “securities fraud and conspiracy charges” in an unrelated matter.
Hunter Biden, whose father was close friends with Kerry from their lengthy tenures in the U.S. Senate, came along for the ride. He was on the Rosemont Real Estate/Rosemont Realty advisory board for four years. He also co-founded, and was a managing partner, of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the chairman of the board of Rosemont Seneca Advisors.
It is Hunter Biden’s affiliation with the now-defunct former that has so deeply impacted the 2020 election. The accusation that he leveraged his status as a powerful politician’s son to unethically, if not illegally, enrich himself and his father, has roiled the final weeks of the campaign.
Rather than set up shop in New York City, the financial capital of the world, Rosemont Seneca leased space in Washington, DC. They occupied an all-brick building on Wisconsin Avenue, the main thoroughfare of exclusive Georgetown. Their offices would be less than a mile from John and Teresa Kerry’s 23-room Georgetown mansion, and just two miles from both Joe Biden’s office in the White House and his residence at the Naval Observatory.
“There is little question,” concurred The New Yorker’s Adam Entous, “that Hunter's proximity to power shaped the arc of his career, and that, as the former aide told me, ‘Hunter is super rich terrain.’”
No kidding. Schweizer documented a 2013 trip that both Bidens took to China, where Hunter and his partners and associates talked business with high-level executives in the Middle Kingdom. One curious participant in the get-togethers was James Bulger, the nephew of “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston gangster, murderer, and onetime member of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Schweizer noted that Billy Bulger, Whitey’s brother and James’s father, was “on the board of directors of the Thornton Group,” a “cross-border capital intermediary whose purpose is to facilitate the strategic vision of its clients by providing advisory services and deal structuring expertise,” and had been the “longtime leader of the Massachusetts state Senate and … a political ally of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.”
Two years later, Rosemont Realty became a Chinese company.
As the Albuquerque Journal’s T.S. Last explained, in 2015, “Gemini Investments, a holding company for Sino-Ocean Land, one of the largest real estate companies in Asia, purchased a 75% interest in Rosemont Realty … . The transaction included a $3 billion commitment from Gemini, and the Santa Fe-headquartered company became Gemini Rosemont Realty.” Several months later, Eddie Gilbert died. And in April 2019, the last vestige of his empire disappeared from New Mexico, when the firm’s headquarters left Santa Fe for Los Angeles, “reflecting the firm’s aggressive efforts to acquire high-quality commercial office properties in primary coastal markets and select secondary markets.” (It would not disclose “how many Santa Fe employees would be affected.”)
In a statement to Last, Gemini Rosemont Realty pooh-poohed any role the vice president’s son played in the acquisition:
Hunter Biden had a brief relationship with Rosemont Realty and was on its advisory board from 2010 to 2014. Gemini Rosemont was formed after that relationship with Hunter Biden ended and Gemini Rosemont has never had a relationship with Hunter Biden. We do not know about his affiliations with other companies, other than what we read in the news.
Thus endeth the tale of the Wall Street crook first convicted in the 1960s who found massive real-estate wealth (and very little scrutiny) in the Land of Enchantment, and his link to the campaign to decide who will be America’s president on January 20, 2021.