The Land Rover Writer

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The New Duke of Deception

In 1979 Geoffrey Wolfe wrote The Duke of Deception, a memoir of his life with his father, a master con artist. Arthur Wolfe - one of his several aliases - created a persona about himself that enabled him to live a life far beyond his means. He never shared his con with his family so their discovery of the truth provides the core of the book.

One hallmark of Arthur's life was the possession of the sports cars of his era, from MG's to Jaguars. Turns out it was one of his first post-war purchases. In their time these largely British sports cars helped define visually the man who could afford carefree driving; if it required maintenance, there would be a mechanic on call or he would have the time to fix it himself. You could be your own country squire, the gentleman sportsman, right here in America.

We loved the imagery of the lifestyle and we loved the cars themselves; they sold in far greater numbers here than they ever did in Great Britain. My first exciting drive was in an MGB-GT; while I drove it with care, the owner drove it with abandon just to show me what they could do. I pined away for one and finally, in 1968, bought my first Triumph Spitfire for $600. I've never been without a British sports car since then; now, it's a 1980 Triumph TR-7 Spider.

So it was no surprise to me that when the Boston Globe did a front page story [12/21/08] on the "connection" to the scam artist Bernard Madoff, a money manager named Robert Jaffee, they pictured him in his concours-level MG-TF, impeccably coiffed and dressed [he did not plan on getting greasy!]. The photo was first taken by the Palm Beach Daily News.

Two cheers for the new Duke of Deception.

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