They Were Collaborators #511

Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell (with their attorney)


squajo said...

For some reason all I can see are must be the coke.

Lex10 said...

Tom, are you being ironic? Isn't that Roy Cohn?

Tom said...

That is Roy Cohen -

Tom Sutpen said...

Not completely ironic. Sometimes I'll leave even a famous face unidentified if it's not specifically relevant to the entry. For example, Roy Cohn can't be said to have collaborated with Rubell and Schrager; he was just their attorney (what's more, his ham-handed defense tactics only insured that the two wound up doing a number in Club Fed).

Fred said...

My uncle once used Cohen to represent him, and ended up with a similar lack of good results (fortunately, it was a civil matter, so all he lost was money). He was thoroughly unimpressed with Cohen's lawyering. As for Schrager and Rubell, I never could get into their club, although one of Schrager's top lieutenants is guy who grew up across the street from me.

Tommy O'C said...

Cohn was Rubell’s attorney. It would have been a conflict of interest for Cohn to have defended both Rubell and Schrager. Gary P. Naftalis represented Schrager who, by the way, was an attorney himself. So, umm, maybe he should have known better? According to the NY Times, “several prominent lawyers represented the defendants during the case, which involved lengthy plea bargaining and their allegation that Mr. Jordan [White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan] had sniffed cocaine during a 1978 visit to Studio 54,” which Jordan denied.

There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that Rubell and Schrager were not guilty as hell of income tax evasion, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. In a television interview, Rubell boasted of the enormous amounts of cash that went unreported on a daily basis. So, he practically invited the IRS to look into his sordid business affairs.

Federal District Court Judge Richard Owen, in imposing sentence, criticized Rubell and Schrager of “tremendous arrogance” for “systematically skimming 40 to 60 percent of the receipts of Studio 54” and evading taxes.

Nowhere is there a hint that Rubell and Schrager did not receive adequate representation.

It’s easy to toss around allegations such as “ham-fisted,” particularly given the left-wing bias of the regulars on this site.

If you have facts to support this claim, cite the source, so that it can be verified.

Otherwise, it’s just an opinion and not a fact.

Tom Sutpen said...

Okay, where to start:

First, I wasn't trying to suggest that Rubell and Schrager weren't guilty as all hell of tax evasion (Rubell practically boasted in the press about all the cash they were squirelling away). Second, Cohn was indeed the attorney of record for Rubell and Rubell alone . . . but . . . he coordinated the defense strategy in that case; and the fact remains, they were on their way to working out a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's office (half the reason anybody hired Cohn for anything after 1960 was his reputation as a world-class fixer, with connections reaching all the way to the White House . . . regardless of the occupant) when Cohn opened his mouth about Hamilton Jordan and Coke, thereby torpedoing any good will with the Justice Dept. those defendants might have had. That's not just ham-fisted, it borders on malpractice. You simply don't expose your client to prosecutorial wrath when the prosecution has all the cards.

And what is this 'left-wing bias' bidness? We're talking about the Studio 54 tax evasion beef, for cripes sake. I wasn't aware it had an ideological dimension (unless you think any criticism of Roy Cohn is inherently leftist; which is just . . . bizarre).

Tom Sutpen said...


I'm sure more people didn't get into Studio 54 back in the day than those who did. I used to work with a woman who stood out there countless evenings, and the only thing she ever saw was Truman Capote (in a sailor's suit) get out of a cab in front of the joint and keel over onto the sidewalk (writer's block is a terrible thing, innit).

The place was probably a dump anyways.

Tommy O'C said...

Early on, they actually sold "memberships" for "exclusive access" for from $75 to $150 to about a thousand members. Thing was, these members found they were by no means guaranteed entry to Studio 54, even when the club was only half full. And supposedly this excluded some "BIG names."

Eventually, they made resitution to the members and paid off Consumer Affairs. Rubell also said that the door policy would no longer be so exclusive, a pledge that could have been written on an ice cube.