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.
Additionally, documents showed that Thain signed off on the purchases personally, and that he used over $30,000 to pay the expenses Smith incurred in doing the work.
The following is a list of the items in his suite:
- Area Rug $87,784
- Mahogany Pedestal Table $25,713
- 19th Century Credenza $68,179
- Pendant Light Furniture $19,751
- 4 Pairs of Curtains $28,091
- Pair of Guest Chairs $87,784
- George IV Chair $18,468
- 6 Wall Sconces $2,741
- Parchment Waste Can $1,405
- Roman Shade Fabric $10,967
- Roman Shades $7,315
- Coffee Table $5,852
- Commode on Legs $35,115
Thain also hired Smith, whose celebrity client list include Steven Spielberg, Michelle Pfeiffer, Cindy Crawford and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, to design his Manhattan apartment at 740 Park Avenue, and his 14 bedroom home in Rye, NY.
Smith is also Michelle Obama’s interior designer and the White House paid him $100,000 for his services.
Thain also paid his driver $230,000 for one years work, which included the driver's $85,000 salary and bonus of $18,000, and another $128,000 in over-time pay, documents show. Drivers of top executives are often paid about half that amount.
Thain was appointed as Merrill’s CEO as the firm suffered massive losses from investments tied to the depressed real estate market under his predecessor Stan O'Neal, who was ousted in late 2007.
Those losses continued through 2008, forcing Thain and his management team to sell the brokerage firm to Bank of America in mid September or face near certain liquidation as investors fearing further losses began pulling lines of credit and other financing.