Mr. Gilbert was accused, in 1962, of misappropriating $2 million from a company he controlled in order to cover margin calls in a collapsing bull market. Leaving behind a spacious apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a villa on the French Riviera, a $3.5 million income tax lien, and some $14 million in other debts, Mr. Gilbert fled to Brazil. The caper was inspiration for a Louis Auchnicloss novel, A World of Profit.
Ultimately Mr. Gilbert returned to New York to stand trial and was sent to Sing Sing. That was not the end of his story. After his release, he rebuilt his fortune only to find himself back behind bars in 1981, convicted on 34 counts of stock fraud.
During the following decade Mr. Gilbert disappeared from public view only to re-emerge in Santa Fe, as president of the BGK Group, a real estate investment company with headquarters in that ornate old building on the corner of Garfield and Guadalupe streets. (Santa Feans will recognize this as the spot where, coincidentally, Carlos Fierro ran down William Tenorio last November. More about that below.) Specializing in commercial property, BGK claims control over some 265 buildings in 26 states. They range in grandeur from the frumpy Design Center on Cerrillos Road to First Galeria Plaza in Albuquerque to the Las Vegas (Nevada) Convention Center.
Mr. Gilbert, now 86, lives a quiet life with his fourth wife, Peaches, unbothered by the press. Anyone wondering how well the third Gilbert fortune has weathered the real estate crash won’t find the answer in the New Mexican. A search of its archives turns up a few glancing mentions of the man: there was the time Mr. Gilbert invested in an unsuccessful revival of the Palace Restaurant (remember Señor Lucky’s?) and the summer when a bear lumbered onto the Gilberts’ three-acre estate on Camino del Monte Sol.
You can’t buy that kind of nonpublicity. One more reason, I suppose, for living in Santa Fe.