The Mast-Head: Uncle Paul’s Millions

Meeting Mr. Manafort

Paul Manafort has a nice pool. I should know, I swam in it once at a children’s birthday party. The water was fine.

I met Mr. Manafort, too. It was at a small St. Patrick’s Day gathering at a house in Northwest. Things were pretty well underway, the corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes already arrayed on the sideboard, when Mr. Manafort and his wife drove up in a fancy car. 

He did not say much, if I recall, but I was struck by the cut of his dark suit, his grumpy demeanor, and his thick head of hair as he sat in a corner of the room. I probably shook his hand; I don’t recall much other interaction. Uncle Paul, if that was what they called him, spoke mostly with family members that day.

It was only this week when news that his Job’s Lane, Mecox, house was included in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment and I went to Google Maps for a look that it all clicked. I remembered first the vast swath of slate around the pool, fully visible in the satellite view, and that a two-story pool house had ice-cold air-conditioning.

As the details slowly came back to me, I remembered that approaching the pool area from the driveway, one had to navigate some intricate brick work. Beyond that, the grounds, which the Mueller indictment said cost more than $800,000 to sculpt, undulated with deliberate earthworks (it had once been a dead-flat farm field), and specimen trees loomed here and there. A small man-made pond lay beyond that. 

To one side of the pool there was a covered area with upholstered seating, tables, and an outdoor kitchen-bar arrangement. Beyond that was a grass court for horseshoes, I think. Maybe boccie. I don’t know. Around back, there was a golf hole, about par-3. There was a tennis court, and a full-court basketball setup where Mr. Manafort’s Range Rovers were on the other side of the house.

Much has been made of the details in Mr. Manafort’s indictment about the unreported overseas money he allegedly laundered through the Job’s Lane property, a lot of it on landscaping and home improvements paid via wires from a bank in Cyprus — and none of it disclosed on his tax returns. 

I have no doubt that he could have done it, certainly  at Hamptons prices; the slate around the pool could have run more than $100,000 alone. 

Other work on Mr. Manafort’s Job’s Lane house ate up more than $5.4 million of the foreign payments, according to the Mueller indictment. 

And his suit — that might have come from the nearly $850,000 he spent at a New York men’s clothing store. With threads like those, you might have thought he would have smiled a little more.