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John Thain's Decorating Spree, For Less

John Thain's Decorating Spree, For Less

When John Thain became Merrill Lynch’s CEO in early 2008, he hired Michael S. Smith Design to revamp his office suite, spending approximately $1.22 million according to documents. Smith also is Michelle Obama's interior designer at the White House. By comparison, the White House is paying him just $100,000.The following are prices of what Thain paid for the individual items, but we’ve also provided images of some penny-saving alternatives that more reasonable spenders may have chosen for their o

When John Thain became Merrill Lynch’s CEO in early 2008, he hired Michael S. Smith Design to revamp his office suite, spending approximately $1.22 million according to documents. By comparison, Smith is also Michelle Obama's interior designer for the White House, which is paying him only $100,000.

The following is what Thain paid for each item. Because Smith's company declined to provide images of the actual items, we've provided pictures of some penny-saving alternatives. So here are the next best things…

By Paul Toscano
Posted 22 Jan 2009

Area Rug $87,000

Thain paid $87,000 for an area rug, but this more reasonably priced, hand-spun wool rug (sized 7’6 x 9’6) is available on Overstock.com for just under $300.

Thain paid $87,000 for an area rug, but this more reasonably priced, hand-spun wool rug (sized 7’6 x 9’6) is available on Overstock.com for just under $300.

Mahogany pedestal table  $25,000

Perhaps the centerpiece of Thain’s decked-out office,  mahogany pedestal tables do not come cheap… but they’re sure cheaper than $25,000. Take this item currently listed on eBay for $2,280.

This table is perhaps the centerpiece of Thain’s office, costing him $25,000. The item at left is currently listed on eBay for $2,280.

19th Century credenza  $68,000

A bargain hunter with a quick Google search could easily locate a 19th  Century style credenza for just a fraction of the cost Thain paid. This piece, found on HomeLivingStyle.com, is available on a winter clearance sale for $4,826!

A bargain hunter with a quick Google search could easily locate a 19th Century style credenza for just a fraction of the cost Thain paid. This piece, found on HomeLivingStyle.com, is available on a winter clearance sale for $4,826!

Pendant light furniture $19,000

Pendant lights available at major retailers generally add a bit of elegance to a room, but they don’t have to break the bank. Take this pendant light for example, available for just under $105 at Overstock.com

Pendant lights available at major retailers generally add a bit of elegance to a room, but they don’t have to break the bank. Take this pendant light for example, available for just under $105 at Overstock.com

Four pairs of curtains $28,000

At $7,000 a pop, one would think there could be a better deal out there for curtains. Take these for example, available at Domestications.com, they are available in any size for only $8.99.

At $7,000 a pop, one would think there could be a better deal out there for curtains. Take these for example, available at Domestications.com, they are available in any size for only $8.99.

One pair of guest chairs $87,000

An important fixture in any respectable office, guest chairs do not have to break the bank. Staples offers this model for $159.99 each.

An important fixture in any respectable office, guest chairs do not have to break the bank. Staples offers this model for $159.99 each.

George IV chair  $18,000

Perhaps one of the rarest items on the list of Thain’s office décor, a George IV  oak  chair was recently sold at Christie’s auction house for $2,210.

Perhaps one of the rarest items on the list of Thain’s office décor, a George IV oak chair was recently sold at Christie’s auction house for $2,210.

Six wall sconces $2,700

An elegant solution for lighting any interior space, Home Depot offers this wall sconce for $79. That’s $474 for six of them. Thain’s six sconces were approximately six times as expensive.

An elegant solution for lighting any interior space, Home Depot offers this wall sconce for $79. That’s $474 for six of them. Thain’s six sconces were approximately six times as expensive.

Parchment waste can  $1,400

If your goal was to impress a visitor with the elegance of your waste compartment, Thain’s choice of trash can would most certainly be the model to follow. For the rest of us, a $8.29 wastebasket from Staples would do just fine… and probably work just as well.

If your goal was to impress a visitor with the elegance of your waste compartment, Thain’s choice of trash can would most certainly be the model to follow. For the rest of us, a $8.29 wastebasket from Staples would do just fine… and probably work just as well.

Roman shade (Special Fabric) $18,282 

Reportedly, Thain spent $7,315 on his Roman shades and $10,967 on the fabric for them. A more conservative spender would visit IKEA, where even the most expensive Roman blinds are available for $39.99.

Reportedly, Thain spent $7,315 on his Roman shades and $10,967 on the fabric for them. A more conservative spender would visit IKEA, where even the most expensive Roman blinds are available for $39.99.

Coffee Table $5,852

A shopper with a keen eye for bargains may have avoided a $5,852 price tag on a coffee table, when a more reasonable alternative is available at Kmart for $99.99.

A shopper with a keen eye for bargains may have avoided a $5,852 price tag on a coffee table, when a more reasonable alternative is available at Kmart for $99.99.

Commode on legs $35,115

Although this is generally an antique item, there are bargains to be found in the antique commode market as well, like this example, found on RubyLane.com, available for $1,990.

Although this is generally an antique item, there are bargains to be found in the antique commode market as well, like this example, found on RubyLane.com, available for $1,990.

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