Once a cash-rich man, Vilar can’t post bond | AspenTimes.com

Once a cash-rich man, Vilar can’t post bond

Cliff Thompson
Vail correspondent

Former Beaver Creek resident and namesake for the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, philanthropist Alberto Vilar, will be released from federal prison once he posts a $4 million bond.

He’s charged with stealing $5 million from a client of his Amerindo Investment Advisors. He was arrested May 27 as he stepped off a plane at Newark Airport.

Vilar, who once was in the Forbes 400 as one of the richest Americans, has not been able to raise bond money and remains in jail.

Some of what has been pledged to help has come from Edwards resident Peter Berg, who has handled real estate transactions for Vilar. Berg could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Other funds have been pledged by friends and an unnamed fund manager.

The philanthropic Vilar, 64, contributed $9 million to Vail Valley arts organizations and an estimated $250 million to similar causes globally. He’s being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.

Vilar was arrested along with Gary Tanaka, a partner in San Francisco-based Amerindo Investments Advisors. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which governs investment activities, has requested a monitor be appointed to operate the pair’s investment company.

Once listed as the 327th richest American on the Forbes 400, with a net worth of just under $1 billion, Vilar apparently has fallen on hard times. Wire service reports indicate Vilar is pledging $4 million in stock, cash and artwork. Four associates are co-signing the bond and will be responsible for paying the court the remaining $6 million if he flees.

Vilar’s problems started when the tech industry bubble burst in 2000 and reduced the value of his company’s investment portfolio by 80 percent.

In the Vail Valley, three banks foreclosed on two properties he owned in Beaver Creek and one in Edwards. Vilar subsequently cleared those foreclosures, and sold the property. He penned an angry letter to the banks decrying that treatment.

“I don’t think I am just another mortagee of your bank,” he wrote. “My generosity to the Vail Valley is unmatched, which has helped your bank and which makes it unfortunate that I have not been given the benefit of the doubt.”

Vilar paid $2 million of a $3.5 million pledge to the Vail Valley Foundation to help fund a $10 million remodel the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The Foundation borrowed the money and finished the project.

Vilar’s name, now prominently displayed next to Ford’s, may be moved to a less conspicuous place on the structure, foundation officials said.

The plaintiff in the charges, according to the New York Times, is Lily Cates, the 67-year-old widow of Marshall Naify, who made a fortune from California movie theaters. Her daughter is actress Phoebe Cates.

If Vilar is able to pay the bond, he will have to surrender his passport, remain under strict supervision with electronic monitoring and travel restrictions. If he does not post bond prosecutors will have to indict him by Friday.

A U.S. attorney said Vilar, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in prison.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at cthompson@vaildaily.com