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