Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay once had multiple vacation homes in glitzy Aspen, Colo. and on the Texas Gulf Coast. In 2001 alone, he took a $20,000 antiquing trip to Spain, threw a party aboard a $200,000 chartered yacht and paid $4,700 for two nights in a French Riviera hotel.
But scandal siphoned away his wealth and left him with a fraction of his assets when he died on Wednesday while staying at a rented vacation home in an Aspen suburb.
During Enron’s high-flying days as an energy powerhouse adored by Wall Street, Lay and his wife Linda had a five-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath condominium on the 33rd floor of an apartment building that towers above the mansions of Houston’s wealthiest enclave. The couple’s pre-scandal assets included three homes and a lot in Aspen, five properties on the west end of Galveston and a string of rental properties in Houston.
After the scandal, Lay sold the Aspen and Galveston properties for $24.1 million and other properties in Houston for $3.8 million. When he died, he and his wife were staying at a rental property in Old Snowmass, near Aspen.
Lay and former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling were convicted May 25 of fraud and conspiracy for lying to investors and employees about Enron’s financial health. Both were to be sentenced Oct. 23 and faced decades in prison.
Lay said when he was indicted two years ago that his one-time net worth of $400 million, which consisted mostly of Enron stock, fell to less than $20 million when the company crashed and its shares became worthless. He testified in the trial that his legal costs siphoned what net worth he had left, and he was $250,000 in the red at the time.
The government froze only Lay’s $5 million condominium upon his indictment, so he could sell his other assets.
Last week the government filed a request that Lay turn over $43.5 million to the government — his alleged gains from his role in the fraud — and suggested he apply the condominium and a $6.7 million investment to the bill. On Wednesday prosecutors declined comment on whether that demand would be dropped considering his death.