Pat Sullivan  /  AP
Ken and Linda Lay's fortune has dwindled from $400 million before Enron's collapse to an estimated $20 million today.
updated 7/8/2004 7:34:59 PM ET 2004-07-08T23:34:59

The world of Ken and Linda Lay was a heady one — masses of money, larger than life friends and palatial homes in the toniest American neighborhoods. But since the collapse of Enron, the Ken and Linda’s world has grown much smaller, and so has their bank account.

The Lays’ fortune in 2001, just two and a half years ago, was staggering. Kenneth Lay, then Enron’s CEO, and his wife of 20 years, his second wife, were worth approximately $400 million.

The Lays were not simply rich — they were Houston royalty, taking fancy skiing holidays in Aspen with their children and grandchildren, and with fancier friends like former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton.

There were powerful political connections too: Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and even former Soviet political leader Mikhail Gorbachev. And, of course, there were other influential friends, like the Bush family, both father George Herbert and son George W.

But the Lays’ reversal of fortune was even more staggering. Almost all of the $400 million they owned was tied up in Enron stock. And what was $400 two years ago has now dwindled to a reported $20 million.

“We've been poor and we've been rich and we were happy at both and we're strong and as far as that, that's the least of our problems,” Linda Lay told NBC’s Lisa Myers in a January 2002 interview.

In the interview with Lisa Myers Linda Lay was emphatic. Her husband was duped by his Enron colleagues Jeffrey Skilling and Andrew Fastow. But since the interview, Skilling and Fastow have reportedly provided prosecutors with a treasure trove of evidence against Kenneth Lay.

"Its just stuff,” Linda Fastow told Myers. “What's important is you spend your whole life working on something, building something — your career, your integrity your character. And to have someone ruin that... how do you rebuild that?”

In fact, Linda Lay recently opened a thrift store called “Jus’ Stuff” to sell off collectibles from the Lays’ numerous homes. But her second hand furniture store is now closed, and reports indicate that Mrs. Lay is soliciting bids on the property. It’s the latest Lay real estate holding to go on the block.

The Lays were super rich before the collapse of Enron. But today their homes are gone, the money is gone and Kenneth Lay finds himself in debt and indicted for allegedly hiding Enron’s debt. And Linda Lay has reportedly called her new home “The Twilight Zone.”


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