Like many Vermonters, Andrew J. Hall is a connoisseur of fine art and lives on a farm in a small town. He's even got a homegrown business selling grass-fed cows and pigs. So what separates Hall from his Reading neighbors? His $100 million pay package from a bailed-out bank, mostly.
Bloomberg News published an extensive story with video on Hall on its website today. Hall used to be an oil trader with Citigroup before that bank sold off his Phibro unit to another company, and now he's also the CEO of a hedge fund. Hall pulled down that $100 million payday the same year Citigroup was bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $45 billion.
His pay was criticized in 2009 by Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw compensation at rescued banks for the U.S. Treasury Department, and Vikram Pandit, Citigroup’s then-CEO. The lender agreed to sell Phibro to Occidental that year, saying 2009 pay for some executives would be deferred and reinvested.
When he's not on Wall Street, Hall lives on more than 2400 acres in Reading — property that includes Hall's centuries-old farmhouse plus three guest homes. The land is also home to Newhall Farm, which produces maple syrup, soaps, sausages and more Vermont products sold online and in "chichi boutiques," according to one ad agency. Hall also runs an art gallery on the farm, where visitors can catch a glimpse of his extensive collection — including, perhaps, a nude portrait of Hall and his wife.
“It’s kind of an enlightened 'Downton Abbey',” said Laird Bradley, principal broker at Woodstock, Vt.-based Williamson Group Sotheby’s International Realty, referring to the TV drama about an English estate. “You can come up to a place like this, you can acquire some land, you can exercise vision, you can do some things that really have an impact.”
Hall's sprawling estate hasn't endeared him to every neighbor. His critics accuse him of forcing less- affluent neighbors out of their homes, though a former town auditor says the homes were dilapidated and uninhabitable anyway. Another man says Newhall Farm has prevented his property from getting electricity:
Hall has been involved in a dispute with Newhall neighbor Carl Stariknok over a proposed power-line route through Hall’s property to electrify Stariknok’s house and hunting camp. The State of Vermont Public Service Board investigated last year.
While Vermont law requires utilities to provide service, customers have to pay to secure rights-of-way, according to a report on the dispute. It recommended closing the investigation, citing Stariknok’s concerns about expense and court time.