a license. Weeks went by and they never
heard a yes or a no. It was just lying there
somewhere, either in a corner collecting
dust or trashed without any response. So I
mentioned I had been on good terms with
the minister in the government who was in
charge of NATO relations, and I was going
to be in Ankara soon. I would see what I
could find out.
It was a Turkish general. I told him that
Chrysler wanted to build a truck plant
outside of Istanbul and had sent him a
proposal to do so. It went to the minister
of commerce and industry and they never
heard anything. He said, “Oh, he’s just
down the hall. I’ll call him and he’ll come
to lunch with us.” So we all went to lunch.
The minister said that he’d never seen
the proposal but he would find out what
happened and get on it straightaway. Herb
Wasson called me about a week later and
said, “I don’t know what you did in Ankara,
but within five days the proposal was
approved and Chrysler got its decree.”
Q: And there you are.
A: I didn’t think anything more of it. But as
I loved the University of Geneva.
I was completing my LL.M. [in Ann Arbor,
Michigan], I got a call from Chrysler and
they wondered if I would be interested in
working for them in Geneva. I said, “Well, I
was planning to stay on and do an S.J.D.”
They said, “Why don’t you do your doctoral
studies in Geneva? We’ll give you whatever
time you need to do that.” I said, “That
sounds like an offer I can’t refuse.”
I worked very closely with the tax
person who was there. I worked on all of
the international compliance issues that
Chrysler had with the tax authorities—
both in the United States, where you’re
complying with the new controlled foreign
corporation provisions, and also with the
tax compliance in the countries in Europe
and elsewhere: Turkey, India, South Africa,
Australia and then Japan.
Their Graduate Institute of International
Studies was housed in a huge old villa
on the Lake of Geneva. It had beautiful
grass around it. We could sit out in nice
weather, particularly, with the lake in front
of us and Mont Blanc in the distance—the
Aiguille du Midi, the midrange before you
get to the high alpine mountains with
Mont Blanc being the highest, all of that
clearly visible from the lakeside where the
institute is located.
Q: I was in Geneva this summer. Nice,
but expensive. Lunch for four turned out
to be 160 euros.
A: Oh my. When we lived there, the Swiss
franc was about 4 to 1. So, it was quite
reasonable. In fact, we bought all of the
furniture we live with today, all the good
furniture, rummaging around in France
and Switzerland and buying antiques for,
as it turns out, bargain-basement prices.
I had a client from Israel who was a very
good friend of Marc Chagall. When my
friend was visiting Geneva, we went to the
Galerie Gerald Cramer and picked up some
monotypes and other things. My wife had
just had the first of her miscarriages at that
point. She was in a clinic called Bois Gentil,
The Gentle Woods, recuperating. I saw a
Chagall. It was two heads and they were
kissing. One head was in red and the other
was in green. It was really quite beautiful.
The owner came up and he said, “I see
that you like this painting.” I said, “Yes. It’s
absolutely lovely.” I told him that it has very
special meaning for me—I mentioned my
wife was recuperating at Bois Gentil. He said,
“You have to buy this painting if that’s the
case.” So, I looked and said it’s 5,000 francs.
He says, “No problem. You pay off whenever
you feel like it, whenever you have some
money.” So I wrote a check for 1,000 francs,
which really put a huge burden on my bank
account. As we were leaving, he said, “Where
are you going?” I didn’t take the painting
because I hadn’t paid for it yet. He said, “I
need the wall space for other paintings. You
take it. Your word is good. No problem.” So
that’s how we have an original Chagall.
Q: OK, so—and no offense to the U.S.—
but what made you return to the States?
A: Without going into a lot of detail, it did
not look like we were going to be able to
have children. In Switzerland, to adopt a
child, both of the parties had to be over
the age of 40 and we didn’t particularly
want to wait. We could have adopted in
Australia, but [my wife] has had Crohn’s
since she was about 15 or 16. It created
some problems, crazy arthritic problems
had settled in her hips. So we decided that
our peripatetic days were over and we had
to settle down someplace.
Q: And LA?
A: I had some interviews in New York and
Washington, D.C., lined up as a way of
coming back. But the winter of 1969 in