John N. Beck II mysteriously disappeared 2/9 around noon at Land’s End in San Francisco. Land’s End is the shoulder of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean from the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. This has been in the local print and TV media since 2/9. A reader asked me to comment.
I have known Beck since 1977 as a friend, colleague, and, until about 2005, a quiet ally in my crusade against the get-rich-quick, real-estate investment, infomercial crowd. In 2005, he went over to the other side and became one of the infomercial guys. After talking to him about it a number of times, I was forced to reverse my strong recommendation of him and recommend that my readers NOT purchase his infomercial stuff.
See my guru-rating page: http://www.johntreed.com/…/61653315-john-t-reed-s-views-of-…
Generally, neither the media nor the prosecutors do enough against this crowd. But they do go after a few of them. Ironically, Beck, who was one of the good guys from the mid-seventies to the mid-2000s, was one of the ones they went after hard. The FTC won a $479 million judgment against Beck and some related defendants. Beck was required to pay $133 million of the judgment personally. He promptly declared bankruptcy.
He is also appealing the summary judgment verdict in the FTC matter. If I understand correctly, he is about to lose the home he lived in for the last 40 years or so in Alameda, CA. The media seems to speculate that he was discombobulated by the suit and bankruptcy proceedings.
Give me a break! Beck had a JD and an MBA in management and accounting. He wrote multiple books and taught classes on various distress sales opportunities including foreclosures and bankruptcies. For years, he had a newsletter titled The Distress Sales Report. He is the last guy in CA who would get rattled by this stuff. Saying Beck would freak out over this sort of stuff is like saying a 40-year emergency room doctor couldn’t stand the sight of blood.
There is concern that he committed suicide, but no suicide note. There is suspicion he disappeared to avoid paying the $113 million debt.
As his friend and a friend of his wife Joyce—not that we’ve had any contact since the mid-2000s—I hope he is alive and well. That causes me to be disinclined to believe the suicide theory. Also, there are two photos of him going to Land’s End on 2/9, In both, he is carrying a bulging shoulder bag.
You don’t need a bulging shoulder bag to commit suicide. You WOULD need such a bag full of a change of clothes and maybe a facial disguise to disappear—perhaps leave the country.
If the bankruptcy court knows about all his assets, which he is supposed to tell them about by law, then he has no need to flee the country. He gets the exempt home equity ($175,000 in CA for a married senior), his pension plans, and assorted smaller items like workman’s tools when the bankruptcy is finalized. Whether he owes $113 Million or $113 Billion is utterly irrelevant. It all disappears in bankruptcy.
But back in the day, Beck extensively researched asset protection by use of offshore havens. He visited Europe investigating some and the South Pacific investigating others. He decided not to write a book about it because he said only multimillionaires could afford the hassles of doing it. But that doesn’t mean he forgot all his research taught him, especially when he came into multimillions as an infomercial star.
The family and media seem to take comfort from the fact that his US passport is still in his desk at home. I take no comfort from that. If he fled the country, using that passport would get him arrested immediately. He would use a fake ID and passport to flee the country and this sort of stuff would have come up in his research of offshore asset-protection havens. See my guru rating of Bill Greene, another guru who disappeared during dealings with the legal authorities.
I hope he is currently sipping a mai tai on the beach of some asset-protection-haven island. Not that I condone either infomercial millions or disappearing to avoid paying your creditors, I just don’t want him dead and this seems to be the only scenario to explain his disappearance that leaves him alive. Guru William McCorkle—see my guru rating on him—pulled this off, after he got out of jail. That is, McCorkle hid assets in an offshore asset-protection haven. The feds tried to get them but could not because they missed the statute of limitations deadline for the country in question.
Note that Beck is the FOURTH guru on my list to disappear under similar circumstances. The others are Michael Martin, Richard Gardiner, and Bill “Tycoon” Greene. I knew Gardiner and Greene. So did Beck.
As far as I know, the only one who was ever found—sort of—was Greene. Who found him? Beck—and he wasn’t even looking for him. What he was looking for was offshore asset-protection havens. That took him to England and when he walked into a bookshop, he saw Greene’s books for sale—only with the author name changed to “Dr. William G. Hill.” The bookstore owner could not help John get in touch with “Hill.” “He just comes in periodically with more books and to get paid for the ones we sold,” the shop owner explained.
Screen rights anyone?