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For Example, speaking of the rebirth of Detroit as a “UNESCO Design City,” A. Alfred Taubman, Philanthropy + Price-Fixing, Strip Malls, Sotheby’s Scandal with Felony Conviction, and Major Philanthropy to Major Universities

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An informal post serving to move the “for example” material off another one, not intended to be a complete story on the subject in question.  Just a little “FYI” and For Example.

Post Title & Shortlink “For Example, speaking of the rebirth of Detroit as a “UNESCO Design City,”  A. Alfred Taubman, Philanthropy + Price-Fixing, Strip Malls, Sotheby’s Scandal with Felony Conviction, and Major Philanthropy to Major Universities (short-link ending “-4Ie”, short post too, for me!, publ. Oct. 15, 2016)

(Actually a few weeks ago I was looking into and writing on the UNESCO DESIGN CITY topic.  Those posts are much more detailed than this one.  The current point of reference for letting this one even be posted is, from “About the Language and Length (Notes on Writing Style from TOC 2014 post)(a “sticky” post)  is that you can learn a lot about famous individuals from their NYT obituaries.  By the time someone famous and their associated philanthropic // corporate activities decade after decade, hits their 80s, or 90s, and breathes their last, there is bound to by an interesting story behind it, reflecting on what we value MOST in America, namely, those who have money, and how ready we are to compromise principles when offered some of it for a favorite project.

A. Alfred Taubman was just one example, and I’d gone pretty far into who funded the rehab of the famous landmark, GM’s “Argonaut” building, before realizing who this gentleman was as a white-collar crook, somewhere between Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London.

Another thing that continues to come up is how much the wealthy love their art collections, and how much those artists need the wealthy to consume their art.  This has been of course throughout history (including when some of that wealth, obviously, was obtained under the name of one major world religion, or another, or the competition for “customers” between them)…

One thing that continues to come up is that some of these American success stories supplemented at least some of their wealth as white-collar crooks — but the public somehow still feels indebted to them —  and is in some sectors, including the University sector — when some of the proceeds from that robbing of others is donated to public institutions which, it’s expected, will of course not in their own communications, highlight the criminal aspects of said individuals.

If I haven’t expressed that clearly enough, just read the following example, and see what comes to mind, with a person who did jail time (not much!!) before getting back to the partying with famous friends, and STILL gets a major design center in the high-profile redemption (??) of the City of Detroit from its urban nightmares…

References to the Alfred E. Taubman Design Center in GM’s donated building, The Argonaut.

A. Alfred Taubman is the official I was thinking of.  

  • Inside the Argonaut: Detroit’s Creative Hub 11/24/2015 in “MoldedMedia” MJ GALBRAITH | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2015.  Regarding the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Creative Design inside CCS (College for Creative Studies in Detroit).  

It started over dinner — just two friends meeting without an agenda. Still, when it’s Rick Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies, and
Matt Cullen, then head of global real estate for General Motors and current president and chief operating officer of Rock Ventures, a casual aside about CCS looking for more space as it outgrew its campus snowballs into GM gifting the college a genuine Detroit architectural masterwork, the 760,000-square-foot Argonaut Building. Suddenly, CCS had more square footage in one building than it did on its original Walter and Josephine Ford campus.

Today, the Argonaut Building has been officially re-branded as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, a result of that famous benefactor’s financial endowment. A number of CCS departments have moved to the Taubman Center since it opened in 2009, including numerous automotive design courses, labs, and hi-tech equipment — fitting, given the building’s rich automotive history. Students reside there as well — a full house with a waiting list to boot. On the top floor, the 11th, is the Benson and Edith Ford Conference Center has turned into a popular venue for not only CCS, but also outside groups like the recent Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium….

For the next 10 years, the Argonaut sat in the dark, empty but secure, waiting for the right use until Rogers’ and Cullen’s fateful dinner. Fast forward through GM’s gifting the building to CCS, a carefully constructed web of fundraising, and a $145-million renovation, and the Argonaut was transformed into the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education.

A design hub

When CCS envisioned the Taubman Center, it wasn’t just as an extension of the school. Instead, the building was to serve as a hub for Detroit’s creative culture and industries. The Detroit Creative Corridor Center and the Detroit Design Festival have offices there, the former focused on growing creative small businesses and the latter focused on cultivating Detroit’s design culture. The Community Arts Partnership, a community outreach program bringing the arts to Detroit neighborhoods, has offices there, too.

And then there’s Shinola, the trendy design behemoth that has opened stores in London, New York, and Chicago, among other cities, since its 2011 founding in Detroit. Shinola operates its global headquarters and much of its manufacturing out of the Taubman Center, recently expanding its footprint from one whole floor to add another half floor of operations. There they conduct much of their business, including designing and manufacturing watches and numerous other products. ..

Not to be left out, let’s add a public school charter school targeted at low-income children, including families affected by Detroit’s bankruptcy and 2008 recession, and in general deterioration of that city’s infrastructure over the years….

Growing the next generation of Detroit designers

College students and high-end design companies aren’t the only ones reaping the Taubman Center’s fruits. Children, too, are benefiting from the Argonaut overhaul. Four floors of the building are dedicated to the Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, a 6-12 grade public charter school whose curriculum integrates the arts into every subject.

HFA opened in 2009, a partnership between CCS and the Henry Ford Learning Institute. The majority of its 800 students come from the city of Detroit, and 90 percent of them qualify for lunch assistance programs. The children are accepted through a lottery program and, once enrolled, are subject to the typical classes of any student – math, science, etc. – but also daily art classes.

Detroit and Michigan-centered companies or organizations (Batterers Intervention Services Coalition of Michigan, or ‘BISC-MI’// the very religions “Defending Our Father’s House” (DOFH.org as I recall), which identifies key figures in the marriage/fatherhood promotion field (including Bradley Wilcox) as “Opus Dei” and in general framing no-fault divorce as an attack on the Church itself, calling for resistance strategies for employment across the sectors and “in the public square”), Bethany Christian Services (major player apparently in the adoption field), the minuscule but vocal (and Michigan is the legal domicile) “Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence,” and others..) have come up repeatedly in my blogging.  Recently, with interest in individual US Cities joining UNESCO or UN-movements (Strong Cities Network, for example, — or here, Detroit was named a UNESCO “City of Design,” which I was looking at).

So, you can see how the Argonaut as a donated building needing major rehab — provided in part by this donor Alfred E. Taubman — came up.  So, I looked him up, and here’s that NYT obituary, including the price-fixing scandal between Sotheby’s and Christie’s (archrival) that cost buyers and customers over $100M and merited prison time.

But, there was money left over to spare, so I guess the moral is — “oh well, we can still name something after them!”

A. Alfred Taubman, 91, Dies; Developer, Sotheby’s Owner and Focus of Scandal  [[1924-2015]]

Self-explanatory, interesting, and a short read.  Don’t miss the part where after conviction, he did a SHORT time in prison and was quickly back partying with his friends, or fail to make a note that after making money in other fields (developing shopping malls was one), he was able to raise enough cash to buy then-failing Sotheby’s (in 1983) for $124M cash with help from his friends, including Henry Ford II:

After a 16-day trial, he was convicted of antitrust violations. (A book by Christopher Mason, “The Art of the Steal: Inside the Sotheby’s-Christie’s Auction House Scandal,” was published in 2004.)

At age 77, with diabetes and other ailments, Mr. Taubman became Inmate 50444-054 at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn. Released from a halfway house in June 2003, he flew in his Gulfstream to his oceanfront estate in Southampton, N.Y., and was soon back home in Manhattan, Palm Beach, Fla., and Bloomfield Hills, (MI) partying with Michael Eisner, Barry Diller, Henry A. Kissinger, Donald Trump and others in the arts, entertainment and business.

From Detroit Free Press (which I see is now part of USA Today network) on Taubman’s life, a timeline:

A. Alfred Taubman’s Life Through the Years, 4/18/2015 in The Detroit Free Press, by JC Reindl

1980s: Continues developing high-end malls and various mixed-use projects. Examples include the Riverfront Towers project in Detroit and the eight-story Beverly Center in Los Angeles. Is a partner in building a 53-story tower in New York City called 712 Fifth Avenue. His giving this decade will establish the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutionsat Brown University and The Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (sic)*. U-M’s Taubman Health Sciences Library opens, as does the A. Alfred Taubman Health Care Center.


In case it’s still not clear that the general idea is that we are to be ruled by a class of elites controling entrance INTO this class, and that the means of maintaining superiority includes prioritizing ‘SOCIAL SCIENCE” as the primary ruling science, what is now called (the renaming occurring shortly after the 1963 assassination of a US President, obviously) by this name was actually set up “on the eve of World War II” by a $2M donation from a Harvard Alumnus (Harvard at this time being male-only, for at least another generation) intending to set up a “professional governing class” to be trained at this school:

see http://HKS.harvard.edu (

see http://HKS.harvard.edu (“About” tab)

The idea of a school of public affairs at Harvard was born in the midst of the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II. As government grappled with historic challenges both domestic and international, Harvard alumnus Lucius N. Littauer backed his vision of a school for a new professional governing class with an unprecedented $2 million gift, then the largest single gift from an individual donor ever given to a university.For the past seven decades the Harvard Kennedy School has strived to place itself at the vanguard of studying public policy and preparing its practitioners. Today the Kennedy School has evolved into one of the world’s most eminent social science research institutions – housing 15 research centers and institutes and more than thirty executive education and degree programs – with worldwide reach and influence. More than 46,000 Kennedy School alumni reside in more than 200 countries and territories and serve in a wide range of positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Social Science has to be heavily promoted to justify a professional ruling class in the first place, and in those years, it was happening.  The FUNDING behind pushing of social science itself is phenomenal.  See also the background of “Sage” publications and its founders.

Back to the Detroit Free Press article of 2015….

1982: Married Judith Mazor Rounick, the winner of the 1962 Miss Israel beauty pageant.

Sounds like he has something in common with Mr. Donald Trump….

1982-1985: Lead owner of the now-defunct Michigan Panthers in the United States Football League.

1982-1994: Owned A&W Restaurants chain. ….(Skipping over the Sothebys purchase):

1999: Makes a $30 million donation to U-M. The college of architecture and urban planning is renamed the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

2001: Is convicted of price fixing in the art auction market. Serves 9 1/2 months in a minimum security prison. 

….2014: University of Michigan considers Taubman its largest donor in history — with gifts totaling more than $142 million.

Source: University of Michigan archival research and the Detroit Free Press


There’s plenty more to say on the Detroit Creative Corridor, as anchored by the CCS and the Argonaut building, about the Detroit bankruptcy itself, I am just pointing out this one example and just one or two articles.  Perhaps the posts already in draft may see the light of day one of these days… out of necessity, and my own awareness that no single post is every likely to satisfy my sense that the topic has been properly covered, and it’s written in tight, concise, condensed format such that not even an idiot could miss the main points.  Those posts (part of my continuous learning curve) record what got my attention about the situation and in significantly higher levels of detail, connecting to such things as HUD projects, and of course the existing writing on what a municipal corporation filing for bankruptcy really means in the context of CAFRs showing there are actually assets available — just not permissible to use — owned by the city.

Looking closer at the state of Michigan, I could also see a series of legislative actions and governmental authority restructurings leading up to WHO gets to redevelop that which was let slide (intentionally) in the first place.

We have not yet forgotten about drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, have we?  These things are not automatically or inherently necessary, but in certain contexts, more of them is predictable.  We need to start looking closer at the nonprofit sector and how it contributes TO the inequality, while loudly proclaiming its REAL interest is in reducing inequalities across the spectrum — just so long as it can maintain control of all major aspects of human life for the worker bees…. and spin this process positively so they don’t leave the hives…

I do not have that type of editing time available in addition to managing my own affairs, including new plans for, as I call it, the “third third” of my own life, optimistically speaking about how long that might ideally be. //LGH.



3 Responses

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  1. Thank you for your diligence and hard work in exposing this entire Ponzi scheme. Our infatuation and adoration of money and the moneyed must come to a screeching halt. I have found that there is no shortage of narcissistic, greedy and just plain mean sociopaths and sycophants.

    This entire structure is criminal and I thank you for taking the time to report on this corruption. It is what we all should be doing.


    October 14, 2016 at 8:20 am

  2. Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.


    October 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm


      Let's Get Honet

      October 14, 2016 at 5:57 pm

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