The BMW Addiction That Completely Destroyed This Man's Life
May 3, 2017 3:56 PM   Subscribe

“Before we get to your car questions,” my former next door neighbor, Terrance, said, “I need to tell you both something. My wife left me. My kids won’t talk to me. I lost my job. I embezzled almost a half a million dollars because I’m addicted to BMWs, and have been hiding them all over the state. I’ll probably be going to prison soon.”

A story of obsession, lies, and self-destruction (and, beneath the surface, of privilege and safety nets).
posted by Countess Elena (70 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
When they asked Terrance if he had suicidal thoughts, he answered truthfully and plainly: of course he thought about suicide, but he didn’t have any serious plans to do it. The personnel at the ER reacted swiftly.
“They put me on a 72-hour psych hold and sent me to a psychiatric hospital, which I’ll tell you is much worse than prison.
Surprised by this, since I thought saying that you had no intent to commit suicide would be enough to avoid a psychiatric hold; after all thinking about it is different from thinking about acting on it. Am I wrong?
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 4:21 PM on May 3, 2017


I was coming here to post this. It's something something that's for sure. It briefly says he had previous obsessions with bicycles and stereo equipment but doesn't go into detail. Quite a story.
posted by fixedgear at 4:23 PM on May 3, 2017


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Earthtopus at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2017 [10 favorites]


Am I wrong?
Signs point to 'yes'
posted by thelonius at 4:31 PM on May 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


This story reminds me of an old car joke that goes something like this:

What's the difference between a BMW and a porcupine? On a porcupine, the pricks are on the outside.
posted by valkane at 4:32 PM on May 3, 2017 [23 favorites]


Wow, what a waste.

The other day in the car dealership's shuttle, a woman mentioned that when her husband was alive he would go to the car dealership for maintenance and come home with a new car. I asked how often that happened and she said they owned more than sixty cars in forty years of marriage! And that sometimes she would come out of work and not be able to find her car so she'd call her husband and he'd say "Oh yeah, I traded your car in. That gold Prius in your parking space is your new car." I also didn't really know what to say to that either. That marriage survived but wow, that would not have been ok with me.
posted by carolr at 4:41 PM on May 3, 2017 [29 favorites]


I had a '76 2002 and I'm here to say that I totally, 100% get it. Those cars are intoxicating.
posted by saladin at 4:44 PM on May 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


I have a sort of theory that... well, is only a theory and I'm not a professional? But I think accounting was the area that young men with what we call now autism spectrum disorders used to go into, and sometimes still do, but particularly before programming was a big thing. I say this because there is a weird thing that has played out with basically anybody I ever worked for. Not great socially, very technically adept at what they did, inclined to obsessive interest in a very few specific things. I worked in one office where my boss had basically filled the whole place with antique clocks. I had a CPE course with a successful CPA who insisted on telling all of us paying customers about his drive to Alaska in some kind of restored classic car. I worked for a guy who owned multiple boats even though he had to drive over an hour to see them. And I got it--I get that way about my own hobbies, but my hobbies so far have mostly been cheaper.

99.9% of the time, this is fine. But if you combine an obsession with anything with having an unreasonable level of access to other people's money? The chances that it goes wrong seem to rise dramatically. So you get these guys who look very ordinary and live very modest lives and everybody says, "I don't know how he did it!" But I'm actually somewhat surprised it doesn't happen more often, because I spent huge portions of my life with, say, check printing and reconciliation privileges both in a dozen clients' QuickBooks files at any given time. Yes, accountants look boring, but I don't know of any other group of people who combines that much opportunity to steal with that many expensive single-minded hobbies.
posted by Sequence at 4:49 PM on May 3, 2017 [53 favorites]


I can appreciate a nice car, but I never understood the Beemer thing. If I was a rich guy I'd get a Ferrari, they look more fun.
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


I thought saying that you had no intent to commit suicide would be enough to avoid a psychiatric hold

You can be put on an involuntary psych hold for suicidal ideation. At least in California, but I'm assuming other locations as well. Half, if not more, of the psych hold patients I deal with as an EMT fall into that category.
posted by not_the_water at 4:58 PM on May 3, 2017 [7 favorites]



I thought saying that you had no intent to commit suicide would be enough to avoid a psychiatric hold

Not after they found out he had insurance. But it is nice to know that you can get out of an involuntary hold by cancelling your insurance.
posted by 445supermag at 5:01 PM on May 3, 2017 [38 favorites]


Presumably they take into account context and history as well.I think that a mid-50s white man with a recent divorce and accused of a crime is a huge suicide red flag.

445supermag that detail bothered me. In Washington there is no way that could happen on an involuntary detainment. I wish the writer didn't take Terrance at his word on that detail and pushed a little harder. Although I'm not surprised that he was discharged that fast, just that it's unlikely that was why he was discharged. Like his experience in the prison system, white privilege and especially middle class privilege goes a long way.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


I gave the wife, trained and licensed clinical psychologist, the story so she could read the psych parts and comment and, sad to say, she is already cynical enough to say it sounds downright plausible, if not straight up likely. She also observed that this guy seems to be an expert at gaming systems so that probably had something to do with it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Those of us in finance see the red flags of poor controls in that workplace. If you can issue 125 extra paychecks to yourself for years and buy an assorted fleet of BMWs on an office workers salary without a question, who knows what else is festering in the shadows.
posted by dr_dank at 5:10 PM on May 3, 2017 [15 favorites]


A doctor at CSP once noted that the prison was “almost universally” filled with sociopaths.

Sounds like he'd fit right in then...
posted by acb at 5:14 PM on May 3, 2017


Reminds me of the Texas Fruitcake accountant story.
posted by olopua at 5:17 PM on May 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


Terrance sounds like an unrepentant dick bag, but what was with the judge trying to put him on 20 years of supervised probation?
posted by zymil at 5:32 PM on May 3, 2017 [7 favorites]


Surprised by this, since I thought saying that you had no intent to commit suicide would be enough to avoid a psychiatric hold; after all thinking about it is different from thinking about acting on it. Am I wrong?
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 4:21 PM on May 3 [+] [!]


There's a lot of leeway here: if you walk in and say, "I am not suicidal, nor have I ever been" you will not be put on a hold. If you walk in and say, "I am suicidal, I own a gun, and I intend to use it to shoot myself on Friday" you will be put on a hold (insurance is irrelevant to this). However, there is quite a wide gulf of grey area between statement A and statement B, and when you say something in the middle (as most people do) the provider is making their own judgement call based on several factors including their personal judgement. Specifics questions like, do you have a plan, come into the assessment, but still, there's not always a clear answer.
posted by latkes at 5:50 PM on May 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well... the guy is a jerk but... his boss doesn't seem to care that he got $100,000 less in personal disbursements each year.
posted by subdee at 6:06 PM on May 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


This part really bothered me:
I am withholding Terrance’s last name in this story. Not for his sake, but for his family’s. His kids, I was told, have fears about their names coming up in connection with this story. I’m certainly not looking to compound what they’ve already gone through. (They didn’t want to talk for this story.)
Sure, you're not including his last name, but you've included his first name, his employer's name, the city he lived in, a certification he was issued, and so on, and so on...

It literally took me 30 seconds of Google searches to find Terrance's last name and anyone who wanted to bother his family could do the same.

If you want to truly protect people's anonymity, PROTECT IT. Don't just make a hand-waving gesture toward it and absolve yourself of guilt.
posted by mmoncur at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2017 [83 favorites]


My husband, who just got back in his '74 2002 from a vintage BMW meetup 700 miles from our home, was puzzled as to why I sent him this article.

(as he should be: he keeps a meticulous spreadsheet of every cent he's spent on that car and the start/completion dates of every project he's done on it, and has a file drawer containing every single document/invoice/receipt/bill of lading for every transaction relating to the car, both of which I have complete access to)
posted by padraigin at 6:12 PM on May 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


I hope it's soon that the human race in general and the species homus articlewriterus in particular gets over this overwrought and disingenuous manufactured disconnect between appearance ("seemed like a normal guy, usually quiet and shy") and action ("stuffs hamsters in his asshole and shot up a kindergarten") because I sure as fuck am tired of reading it. Everyone is a demon and their devilry is coded into their genes. Just say: "well, turns out his evil was this particular one". Also this was a great story.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:12 PM on May 3, 2017 [17 favorites]


True; though most people's demons are, as Leonard Cohen put it, middle-class and tame. This guy's were middle-class and mildly kooky.
posted by acb at 6:16 PM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


According to Terrance, though, the problem wasn’t just addiction. He also blames aspects of car culture. He says that there’s a wink-wink-nudge-nudge aspect to it, where men don’t disclose everything—like costs—to their families.

lol the misogyny made me do it
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:29 PM on May 3, 2017 [31 favorites]


The obsession with vehicles reminded me of the story from 2003 of a Microsoft manager/engineer who had a very bright career and future, but was also reselling vast amounts of software bought at employee discount to fund his car obsession. After he was caught in a company audit he committed suicide by drinking antifreeze. At the time of his death he still had a website up about the things he enjoyed, his cars and hobbies, filled with optimism ...
posted by zippy at 6:35 PM on May 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


There is a bizarro, sad acquisitiveness in powersports world. And a total winky-nudgy "lol im ruining my life for this hobby!!" place you can go that does seem to be tolerated by the more staid hobbyists. Not excusing this guy at all, but I am not sure how well people not in these hobbies know about this kind o stuff.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 6:46 PM on May 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I had a '76 2002 and I'm here to say that I totally, 100% get it. Those cars are intoxicating.

Yeah, this article was woefully short on photos of those 50 2002s.

I can appreciate a nice car, but I never understood the Beemer thing.

Beemer is the motorcycle. Bimmer is the car. /former owner of a 1972 R75/5.
posted by NoMich at 7:03 PM on May 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Although I'm not surprised that he was discharged that fast, just that it's unlikely that was why he was discharged.

Having insurance a lot of times does mean that you get much more in the way of health services - don't have insurance and they rush you out the door when you can barely walk; have insurance and get a few extra days and some physical therapy. And, insurance can mean that you get some stuff you don't really need. When its tests its not a big deal, it's just that in this case the extras mean you are involuntarily held.
posted by 445supermag at 7:05 PM on May 3, 2017


saladin - I had a 1971 - dark blue - and did a ton of work on mine with the help of a Chilton's manual and some friendly parts store clerks.

I don't get having 50 of them. I do get having more than one.
posted by hilaryjade at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


I’m used to looking at the things logically, analytically, and taking the emotions out of decisions.

says the guy who spent years lying to his family and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fucking asshole men and their delusions of rationality.
posted by medusa at 7:34 PM on May 3, 2017 [61 favorites]


Oh trust me women do the exact same thing with horses. I know sooooo many who buy horses their husbands don't know about. If you have your own place and there's a chance he might count the horses in the field for some reason, the trick is to buy all the same color horses so he gets confused as to which is which. I know people who've done that for years. All still married amazingly. They're not bankrupting the families but they are certainly shenangians going on.

he keeps a meticulous spreadsheet of every cent he's spent on that car and the start/completion dates of every project he's done on it, and has a file drawer containing every single document/invoice/receipt/bill of lading for every transaction relating to the car, both of which I have complete access to

That's the decoy car. I mean, how often do you check the plates on the one parked in the garage?
posted by fshgrl at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2017 [52 favorites]


I can appreciate a nice car, but I never understood the Beemer thing. If I was a rich guy I'd get a Ferrari, they look more fun.

The thing is, you don't need to be a rich guy to get a BMW. Or even a really nice and very fast BMW. But you need to be pretty rich to own a Ferrari. And VERY rich to drive it a lot. For an idea of what owning a Ferrari is like, imagine driving a BMW (the better ones of which are only a bit slower on a track - on the street the difference is irrelevant) but also with you throwing $100 bills out of the window every half a mile. I'm not even exaggerating. In fact, that's probably a conservative estimate.
posted by Brockles at 8:28 PM on May 3, 2017 [23 favorites]


My husband, who just got back in his '74 2002

Aww, that's the car I learned to drive in. My dad also had an unfortunate thing for BMWs, finally cured by the 735 that never ran right and eventually threw a rod straight through the top of the cylinder head. I still get weepy over every 2002 I see, especially in metallic blue. The running joke with my wife goes: Me: "Oooh, look, a BMW 2002!" Her: "Huh, it looks older than that."
posted by sapere aude at 8:41 PM on May 3, 2017 [5 favorites]


Here in Iowa, it's kind of a thing where some small-town clerk will get busted for embezzling $50k+ from some little hamlet of 1500 people. At least one or two a year, statewide. And they're always women.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:47 PM on May 3, 2017


That's the decoy car. I mean, how often do you check the plates on the one parked in the garage?

Fair point. I do pay the bills though, including the insurance and registration, and I also help with his company's books. So he'd really have to be running a very impressive scheme, which, for a guy with as many labor-intensive hobbies as he has--if he were, I'd be inclined to slow clap and let him have his moment. Bless him for finding the time.

I will say this about the car I'm either going to bury my husband in, or maybe use to lure a new husband instead: he once bought a second 2002 to use as a daily driver because it came with a parts car, which he looted to fix the first car (let's call the first car Otto, because that's it's name, the parts car was Notto, because it was not Otto). He bought these car from a guy named Bert so we called the driveable one Norbert. When Otto was roadworthy again he sold Norbert, then bought another parts car that had some other stuff he needed (that would be Frankenotto). The condition of sale on Frankenotto was that my husband also take a bunch of old motorcycles that were also making the seller's wife angry, including a couple of BMWs and one gorgeous but totally stationary Honda cafe racer.

The two parts cars were then sold when they no longer served a purpose in my driveway (no money lost at all if you consider the parts that didn't get bought), the motorcycles were mostly sold off as they each proved to be too much work for a guy who at the time had toddler children, and the one BMW motorcycle that ran was traded for an old Ford pickup, which was great for trips to...you guessed it, the Pick-n-Pull! For more car parts!

Sidenote: That Ford pickup didn't make the move from California with us, but it cycled through a couple of our relatives until one day a cousin found a note on the windshield stating extreme interest if this truck is for sale, please call. That truck now lives in SWEDEN of all the damn places. If you see it, say hello.

Otto did get shipped out to Minnesota with us, where he lives a nice life staying warm in a garage all winter, getting lovingly wiped down with an old cloth diaper any time any moisture hits him, and he goes on nice fast rides through the river valleys all summer long.

Last year my husband decided that our aging minivan needed a break from daily use in the winter in order to preserve its life as long as possible, so he began searching for a small all wheel drive wagon for me to use instead, one he could more or less maintain himself. I'd always had my heart set on an Audi, because I loved my old Jetta, but I bet you can guess what I ended up with instead!

Anyway, long story short: I got the receipts. So so so many receipts.
posted by padraigin at 8:53 PM on May 3, 2017 [30 favorites]


The unusual part of your story is not the receipts but that the extra vehicles went away, and in several cases were exchanged for cash money? I'd definitely bury him in the car if it came to it. Using it to lure another and the odds are he'll be a hoarder of tires or one who just keeps putting the motorcycles in the shed where you can't see them until the shed collapses and you realize he has 10 (!) bikes and a side car.
posted by fshgrl at 9:01 PM on May 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


All this talk about husbands deceiving wives about cars makes me think of Fargo.

Now if my wife complains that I just dove into trying yet another programming language, I'll remind her they're all GPL/MozillaPL'd.
posted by ocschwar at 9:03 PM on May 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you have your own place and there's a chance he might count the horses in the field for some reason, the trick is to buy all the same color horses so he gets confused as to which is which

A friend does this with $10k road bicycles. He only buys black bikes so his wife never knows when he's riding a new one.
posted by photoslob at 9:17 PM on May 3, 2017 [11 favorites]


hahaha "the extra vehicles went away" yes that's true about the BMW 2002s and the motorcycles and that one truck. The less said about the other vehicles probably the better.

and the twelve bicycles.
posted by padraigin at 9:19 PM on May 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


padraigin, this comment, shortened down and spread over say 24 pages, would make a delightful children's picture book.
I am totally serious.
posted by blueberry at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2017 [8 favorites]


Glad the only thing I'm addicted to buying are guitar effects pedals.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:10 PM on May 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh trust me women do the exact same thing with horses. I know sooooo many who buy horses their husbands don't know about. If you have your own place and there's a chance he might count the horses in the field for some reason, the trick is to buy all the same color horses so he gets confused as to which is which. I know people who've done that for years.

TELL US EVERYTHING
posted by ominous_paws at 11:36 PM on May 3, 2017 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I've known both types. A couple of guys who always have one or two project cars and maybe a parts car, but sell them off after fixing them up and at least get all the cash back out of the project. One who has a few old Saabs so that he can always have at least one that runs well. And many more whose wrenching is a total money pit.

The strongest correlation to financial loss seems to be amount of beer consumed while working on the cars. More beer, worse outcome.
posted by wierdo at 12:31 AM on May 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


Glad the only thing I'm addicted to buying are guitar effects pedals.

Brother Rat!

(Yes, I see what I did there).
posted by Chitownfats at 12:34 AM on May 4, 2017


Here in Iowa, it's kind of a thing where some small-town clerk will get busted for embezzling $50k+ from some little hamlet of 1500 people. At least one or two a year, statewide. And they're always women.

Illinois too.

(Will this be the start of #notallwomencomptrollers?)
posted by Chitownfats at 12:38 AM on May 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'd be really surprised if there are no horse collectors who go broke as a result.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:05 AM on May 4, 2017


Yes, accountants look boring, but I don't know of any other group of people who combines that much opportunity to steal with that many expensive single-minded hobbies.

Oh man, this reminds me of a place I worked that was ROCKED by scandal when it turned out the mild-mannered white male accountant had been scamming thousands of dollars to spend on his gambling addiction. When they asked him why he did it, he said that nothing beat the rush of wondering whether or not he would get caught.

White men in charge of accounting ARE basically the criminal class of the last century, so I think being inherently suspicious of them is fundamentally wise.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:52 AM on May 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


That Ford pickup didn't make the move from California with us, but it cycled through a couple of our relatives until one day a cousin found a note on the windshield stating extreme interest if this truck is for sale, please call. That truck now lives in SWEDEN of all the damn places. If you see it, say hello.

I'm guessing the buyer would have been a raggare who branched out from tail-finned Cadillacs to other types of big ol' American motor vehicles.
posted by acb at 6:44 AM on May 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


I live in a small Midwestern town that was rocked years ago by the city auditor making off with hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed his gambling. I know the current city auditor and I'm fairly certain she has no horses.

Hobbies can get addictive, be it cars, gaming software, horses, etc. I hang out on a couple audiophile forums and I often wonder how some of these folks have the money to maintain these extravagant systems or massive music libraries.
posted by Ber at 6:45 AM on May 4, 2017


Oh trust me women do the exact same thing with horses. I know sooooo many who buy horses their husbands don't know about. If you have your own place and there's a chance he might count the horses in the field for some reason, the trick is to buy all the same color horses so he gets confused as to which is which. I know people who've done that for years. All still married amazingly. They're not bankrupting the families but they are certainly shenangians going on.

I was very recently talking to a guy who had just discovered his wife had -- not for the first time -- been buying extra horses and hiding them around the property, counting on him not really paying attention. He seemed totally ok with it, just sort of "ha ha, isn't she adorable?"
posted by Dip Flash at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Rita Crundwell yet, especially with the talk of horses. The comments about women clerks/comptrollers got me thinking, though, especially WRT the relatively small amounts embezzled. I wonder if sometimes these women look at neighboring towns or cities who have hired city managers, sometimes for relatively small communities. (Sarah Palin infamously felt the need to do so for Wasilla, which had a few thousand people at the time.) Women are underrepresented in the city manager field, and city managers generally make more than clerks. I wonder if some of them just look at the income disparity, and note how the elected officals' eyes glaze over when they're talking about budget figures, and think, what the hell.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:52 AM on May 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


I can appreciate a nice car, but I never understood the Beemer thing. If I was a rich guy I'd get a Ferrari, they look more fun

Thing is, back in the day, the 2002s, 320s, and 318s weren't rich guy cars. They cost a little more than a normal American car, but not outrageously so. What they had that made them so fun to drive was a rev-happy 4-cylinder engine, light weight and superb suspension. They were so much fun, either out for a run through the countryside, or navigating in and through rush hour traffic. You really felt connected to the car, and they weren't so powerful as to get you into trouble. They had just enough power to have fun with. Well thought-out cars.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:07 AM on May 4, 2017 [7 favorites]


It ain't just small towns in the Midwest. Pasadena, my burg, got rocked a few years back where a Public Utility manager was discovered to have embezzled $6.4 million from the fund meant to underground the power lines in town. He funneled the $$ through churches he was associated with, etc. No reports of kooky spending habits though.

And for hobby hiding, see it all the time with brewing - although those expenses are relatively minor. Some of the beer cellars I've seen, woo boy, those are some serious $$
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:11 AM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that there is a mention of audio equipment as one of his obsessions. I know someone who racked up over 20 grand in credit card debt on a guitar and pedal obsession (and other musical equipment) and lied fairly consistently to people while doing so. Why anyone needs that many guitars is beyond me (I doubt he uses that many), but there is always some detailed reason behind the compulsion to collect. He's also an accountant/programmer type and most likely has autism but hasn't been formally diagnosed.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2017


Thorzdad, you're right. I think it's kinda hilarious that two brands that are now completely steeped in luxury started out as mildly expensive but fun/robust "regular" brands, and made the conscious decision to go upmarket: BMW and Rolex. When Sean Connery walked out of the surf in Dr No in 1962 wearing a Rolex Submariner, it was a robust and serious watch that anyone who needed a fault-tolerant timepiece could acquire. It was more expensive than a Timex, but also way more durable.

A new stainless steel Submariner today -- the basic one, with no date window -- lists at $7,500.
posted by uberchet at 9:19 AM on May 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


The only two people I know who were compelled to accrue a category of items were both men. With one, it's clothes (at the time, he had something like 150 shirts and over 60 pairs of jeans), with another it's vinyl records.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I get SO NERVOUS when I read these accounts of fraud and embezzling. I always sit there, tense, wondering if the guy/woman will be caught, when CLEARLY, due to an article being written about them, they have been. It's like when I watch "Locked Up Abroad," and get all tense while the drug smuggler walks through the airport. If they made it, the show wouldn't be called "Locked Up Abroad," would it?
posted by xingcat at 10:06 AM on May 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


I tried and failed to find the cite for this last night, sorry guys, but I will share that I read a Great Recession themed book a few years ago that discussed embezzlement and theft and said that the two greatest predictors of whether an employee would steal money from their employer were not financial distress, job satisfaction, personal character traits like honesty, etc. They were lack of difficulty and oversight. The specific example cited was the increase in fraud and theft in the US military after the transition from a purchase order system to unit credit cards. I now think that putting someone in this position is basically malicious, because it has a very good success rate at producing felons.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:18 AM on May 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hobbies can get addictive, be it cars, gaming software, horses, etc.

For people with addictive personalities, I guess, or for people who don't self examine.

The only two people I know who were compelled to accrue a category of items were both men.

My mom has way more fabric than she will even sew. She's really mentally ill and overspending and hoarding are parts of her illness.

Both sewing and knitting (which I do) have lots of cute saying about your "stash" of supplies. "Whoever dies with the most yarn wins!" I'm pretty contemptuous of all these cutesy sayings about mindless consumption. I periodically give away yarn I've decided I'm not going to make something with so I can keep my unknit yarn in one small bin.

I've known plenty of collectors of both sexes but never to the point of criminality that I'm aware of . I was a collector myself in the past, in part to give justification to my hobby of thrift shopping. When I started looking at my collections and realizing they were just dead stuff that took up space, sucked up money, and that I accumulated that served no purpose, I decided to stop thrift shopping.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:43 AM on May 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


Snarl Furillo, I've read something by Warren Buffett and/or Charlie Munger to the effect that it's immoral to expose people to excessive temptation.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:21 AM on May 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm not going to say I have a problem but I have been steadily increasing the amount of collected edition comic books on my bookshelf. I'm not entirely sure if its because of some addictive personality type thing or just because publishers are putting more of them out there. I'm probably up to one a month now and it seems like every time I visit Amazon there is something else to tempt me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:27 AM on May 4, 2017


Regarding Rolex prices over time and adjusted for inflation (and against average annual income), I found this analysis.
posted by achrise at 11:30 AM on May 4, 2017 [4 favorites]


The only two people I know who were compelled to accrue a category of items were both men.

What grinds my gears is the notion that women are uniquely prone to "frivolous" spending and financial shenanigans. Men have hobbies, women are shopaholics, etc. Whereas the truth is that financial irresponsibility is not gendered, as this article and the Fruitcake Accountant FPP and many others have shown.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:54 AM on May 4, 2017 [14 favorites]


I have this addiction/compulsion. Not nearly to the extent of the gentleman in the article, nor requiring felonious methods of funding, but enough that it has strained my relationship in the past 6 months and I finally sought help and began therapy.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't check CL for 2002's after reading this. And I also wish that Bring a Trailer had a self-exclusion option like casinos do.
posted by hwyengr at 12:58 PM on May 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


The horse trick is also easier to pull off if you run a boarding stable. Way harder to track the comings and goings of individual horses, and besides, that new indoor riding arena has almost paid for itself, honey!
posted by straw at 4:44 PM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Why anyone needs that many guitars is beyond me (I doubt he uses that many), but there is always some detailed reason behind the compulsion to collect."

Richard Gere, at the time of an auction of *some* of his collection, stated something along the lines of every time he sees a nice guitar he buys it.

Gere obviously has the means, and no other motivation mentioned but desire. I guess it becomes toxic when it is the kids' college funds or the household budget, or as here, criminal malfeasance.
posted by Chitownfats at 7:10 PM on May 4, 2017


Glad the only thing I'm addicted to buying are guitar effects pedals.

I belong to several Facebook guitar groups and they are 1) virtually all male and 2) feature constant jokes about hiding guitar purchases from one's wife. It's a damn trope of the subculture.

I'm up to about 12, but nothing's secret about it.
posted by spitbull at 6:05 PM on May 5, 2017


ps the Stratocaster guys are the worst.
posted by spitbull at 6:06 PM on May 5, 2017


Vintage computer guys are the same. The forums are an old boys club, complete with a lot of sexism and joking about what the wives will think of their purchases and hoards. And the occasional report of a divorce because of the obsessions.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:49 PM on May 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


They were lack of difficulty and oversight.

For several years, I was the treasurer of an organization that had terrible accounting practices. Nobody had to approve any outlays, and although there was always talk of auditing the books, it never happened. There were committees that could authorize payments on their own business, and they never kept track of how much of their budget they'd spent—they'd email me to ask if they still had $500 or whatever in their budget.

During that time, our family experienced a major financial setback that we're still recovering from years later. I was astonished by how tempting the organization's money was, sitting there with nobody but me paying attention to what happened to it. I have always been an honest person around money. I return the money if I get too much change at a restaurant, for instance. I have always been very rigorous about that kind of thing. But the temptation when my family was struggling and that money was just sitting there! I'm still proud that I never once gave into it, even as I'm sort of ashamed that the idea ever crossed my mind.
posted by Orlop at 11:09 AM on May 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


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