A biography of Ty Warner by Zac Bissonnette appeared on bookshelves six years ago though I do not recall “The Great Beanie Baby Bubble” being discussed widely in these parts despite Ty’s presence among us. (Even people who enjoy reading books don’t seem to read them anymore as the national attention span narrows to mostly squibs, bites and blurbs posted on anti-social media.)
When we read Mr. Bissonnette’s volume in 2016, we believed the material therein provided the basis for a meaty newspaper column. This was due to the insightful anecdotes that peppered the author’s prose with reveals into Mr. Warner’s character.
Alas, while the News-Press published its interview back then with the author, The Investigator did not have a column at that time.
But we have one now. And Mr. Warner’s antics: keeping the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara shut tight to the detriment of the community, on trial as the defendant at Santa Barbara County Superior Court in a labor dispute with more than 300 discarded employees — and being sued by his ex-live-in-partner of several decades…? Well, it seems enough cause to revisit this bio with a view toward understanding Ty’s reclusive and perhaps eccentric nature.
So, for those who have never heard of this bio or have neither time nor inclination to read a whole book, here’s what you need to know from an author who spent two years intensely researching the man Chicago magazine described as hidden “behind an impenetrable wall of plush.” (Plush is the toy industry word for stuffed animals.)
First off, Mr. Warner has a penchant, historically, for litigation — and, at the age of 77, this has not appeared to have changed — so perhaps he actually enjoys a swirl of lawyers and motions around him.
That said, please understand that we reside in a highly litigious culture (lobbied heavily by lawyers) in which predators seek to sue people with deep pockets.
Decades ago, we had a taste of this kind of litigation when we were implicated in a lawsuit against Barnum & Bailey Ringling Brothers Combined Circuses over private-sector intelligence we had conducted for that entertainment company.
To his credit, circus owner Kenneth Feld had an ironclad rule: Never cave to a lawsuit; always fight until it is no longer fight-able.
Look, Ken Feld employed lion tamers and acrobats. Potential lawsuits were everywhere! If you give in and settle, it is a signal to everyone to file a lawsuit for any frivolous reason. Mr. Feld quite rightly (in our opinion) vigorously defended any case filed against him.
The Ken Felds and Ty Warners are accustomed to litigation. They either don’t give it a thought or, as may be the case with Ty, enjoy the drama. And guess what? For them, legal expenses are a tax write-off.
OK, enough of a rant, let’s revert to Ty’s psyche.
As a child, he is reported in Mr. Bissonnette’s bio to have felt emotionally abandoned.
“I need to be taken care of like a 5-year-old boy,” he told Faith McGowan, with whom he was having a relationship at the time. Then, years later when asked, during community service as part of his tax evasion sentencing, “How did you come up with the idea of Beanie Babies?,” Ty replied, “I tried to think like a kid.”
Ty is said to be rather vain and has always strived to remain physically young (to remain a child?). He had facelifts and black sheep embryo injections, with sculpted eyebrows and hair coloring before every trade fair appearance. These were Ty’s tactics — along with fur coats and top hats — from long ago, even before he became fabulously wealthy. Not quite Michael Jackson, but he may have an addiction to plastic surgery. (Jeez, maybe he moved to Montecito to blend in …)
Furthering this insight along, Ty’s favorite movie is reputedly based on Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” about a man who never ages.
Ty was fired by stuffed animal manufacturer Dakin after many years as a highly successful salesman. (He had added his own creations to those he was peddling for Dakin, a definite non-no). Then, after striking out on his own to attempt to market several different gift product lines, including musical boxes, a vision outside his window late one night when he could not sleep compelled him to return to plush toys, even though that industry had entered a steep decline.
Ty’s mission: To produce prime “plush” and become wealthy.
Ty’s defining characteristics, according to the author: “Creativity, ruthlessness … and an aptitude for persuasion.”
Ty’s secret to success: “Low prices and obsessive attention to quality,” in addition to his innate ability as a marketeer/salesman. This led to $5 and $10 Beanie Babies (not $4.99 and $9.99).
Interestingly, for Ty it is always about the eyes: Stuffed animals must have mesmerizing eyes and always be positioned to make eye contact with buyers. Add Ty’s obsession with lighting, with getting it just right. Because Ty is the perfectionist’s perfectionist: Every toy (in the early days anyway) had to be trimmed and brushed by hand.
Ty’s mother was reportedly diagnosed as paranoid-schizophrenic. Maybe a genetic explanation exists as to why — according to Mr. Bissonnette’s bio — Ty bugged the office of Sharon Altier, his general manager. A former employee of Ty told Mr. Bissonnette, “Mental health isn’t his strong suit.”
Ty is said to have an obsessive dislike of overweight people and large portions in restaurants, which, to his thinking, create a culture of overeating and obesity. (No question, our culture of overeating renders us inactive, lazy and overweight.)
Ty, according to the bio, strives to control and needle those closest to him, yet he becomes codependent on persons with whom he is in a relationship to the point of stalking those who choose to break away.
At a time (mid-1990s) when Ty stashed $100 million in European banks as a hedge against potential judgments should his new hotel ventures fail, he reneged on an offer to build a $100,000 house for his sister Joy. (She told Mr. Bissonnette).
It was said, by Ty’s counsel in a memorandum before sentencing for tax evasion (in 2014), that Mr. Warner has never done any estate planning. If this has not changed, Joy will be sole heir to his multi-billion-dollar fortune. When Ty gave Joy a tour around his Channel Drive estate while it was being built, “He led her into the formal dining room,” writes Mr. Bissonnette, “with seating for at least 40 people. ‘This is where we eat when we have company,’ Ty explained. ‘Who would you have over?’ Joy asked. He was quiet. Then: ‘Nobody,’ he said coldly.”
Very sad, speaks volumes. Kind of like Ernest Hemingway’s shortest story: “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”
Bringing us current: Kathryn Zimmie’s lawsuit against Ty based on their many-decade partnership (personal and professional) has now been ordered to mediation. If parties cannot reach a settlement, a seven-day trial is scheduled to commence on May 9, 2023,
Perhaps Ty is playing his baby grand piano more often these days. He apparently plays very well, but only when depressed. That said, a former girlfriend and business associate named Patricia Roche told Mr. Bissonnette that Ty cannot be happy unless he is miserable. Almost sounds like Charlie Brown from Peanuts.
Finally, we have heard a rumor that Ty has separated the utility accounts of the Biltmore and Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club. If true, we may infer that Mr. Warner is either looking to keep one and sell the other — or sell both as separate entities. And since we have also learned that Ty wants to open his Coral restaurant, Tyde’s, to the public, it may well be that ownership of private clubs is the Beanie Baby billionaire’s new focus.
At the age of 99, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is attending this weekend’s Bilderberg Meeting in Washington, D.C., which began on Thursday and concludes today.
Bilderberg is a shadowy arm of the power elite, which has met annually since 1954 and has always strived to influence Western policy from behind the scenes. For example, the European Union was born out of early Bilderberg Meetings.
It is very private. Some say secretive.
Bilderberg’s media office made no announcement of the whereabouts, agenda and participants of their conference until it began three days ago, presumably to avoid the kind of protest demonstrations they have endured over the past couple decades.
We have been following Bilderberg for 46 years. In fact, we were first to give it media attention back in 1976.
Is it nefarious?
Depends on your definition of nefarious.
Those who question its motives are labeled “conspiracy theorists.”
So let’s not go there.
Instead, let us view this entity as networking on a super-scale; a venue for the captains and kings of commerce to bond with politicians and corporate media, all beneath the banner of Chatham House Rules: Nothing is attributable to no one.
Interesting to note these items on their agenda:
— Post Pandemic Health.
— Disruption of the Global Financial System.
Topics of interest to Bilderberg will be the issues most heavily focused upon by mainstream media over the next many months.
Those attending Bilderberg are core “steering committee” members, regular participants — and newcomers who are chosen for their expertise on agenda topics. Receiving an invitation is akin to opening a chocolate bar and finding Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.
We always enjoy viewing Bilderberg’s participant lists not only for its reveals about what the power elite is dwelling upon but whom it chooses to “educate” for greasing along its fundamental beliefs.
Bilderberg has always had an eye toward inviting politicians that it may groom into a globalist frame of mind. (Globalism, ultimately, is what motivates this crowd.)
For instance, the sole American politician invited to this year’s confab is U.S. Sen. Krystin Sinema, D-Arizona.
What does this tell us?
It is uncanny how politicians invited to Bilderberg end up “arising from nowhere” to seek — and win — higher office. As in the White House.
So look toward a Sinema candidacy, if not this coming election, the next (Bilderberg thinks ahead). The gnomes of Bilderberg have likely concluded that only a Democrat with conservative leanings can do battle with Republicans.
Beyond politics, Bilderberg is where all the most serious business deals get hatched (not in discussion sessions but backroom shoulder-rubbing). And this is also where folks like CIA Director William Burns and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan (who are attending this year’s meeting) make the contacts they need to join corporate boards after they leave government service.
Interesting that Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, is attending this year.
And it’s interesting to see someone else who is attending: Sana Marin, the Finnish prime minister, pretty much clinching NATO membership for Finland after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
From Britain comes Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Leveling Up), perhaps Bilderberg’s choice to succeed the ever-bungling Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Over the past decade, either Bilderberg has drifted into Silicon Valley, or the titans of high tech have penetrated Bilderberg. Eric Schmidt, former chairman and CEO of Google, is on Bilderberg’s steering committee. He is present in Washington, D.C., this weekend along with fellow billionaire and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
This year we see two participants — billionaire Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) and Mustafa Suleyman — from a new company called Inflection AI, founded earlier this year in Palo Alto and which, on its website, claims to be “redefining human-computer interaction.” Inflection AI has already raised $225 million.
As for Dr. Kissinger’s presence: He has never missed a Bilderberg Meeting in over half a century.
And why is that?
The insights derived from attending Bilderberg have been a big earner for Kissinger Associates, his longtime consulting business.
This is how the world truly operates.
And you won’t read about it anywhere else but here.
In light of (strike that, in DARK of) the unspeakably evil school shootings May 24 in Texas, let us look at medical records.
Even advocates of the Second Amendment must admit the insanity of allowing an 18-year-old with a history of depression to purchase AR rifles in any state of the union.
A good argument exists for making medical records part of a national vetting process for purchasing weapons and disallowing those with evidence of mental illness from buying guns. And it goes beyond mental illness; it may well be that the “treatment” of mental illness should be addressed in medical records.
Big Pharma, for too many decades, has been scrambling hundreds of thousands of young brains with the drugs they produce and promote for depression and ADD and ADHD and other mental maladies that seem all too common in our current culture, (Maybe because psychiatrists are too quick to diagnose because of the kickbacks they receive from pharmaceutical companies).
Schoolchildren and their teachers are not safe under current conditions, and what took place that terrible day is beyond comprehension.
What, as a society, as a culture, have we become? Look at the pictures, the faces, of the children who were murdered. Only tears, not words, can tell this very sad story.
Nothing, just nothing, can make it better.
And to make matters worse, by now everyone has moved on with their lives, and the evil that took place in Uvalde becomes just another fading memory as the populace remains riveted to the very exhibitionist Depp-Amber histrionics and whatever showbiz scandal comes next.
In other words, back to normal.
We see this also with Russian President Vladimir’s Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. It has become so normalized that the mainstream media rarely reports the murder, mayhem and rape that still goes on every day in Ukraine, perhaps worse now than when Russia’s psychopathic tyrant commenced this war three months ago.
Again: What, as a society, as a culture, have we become?
Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with vast experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com.