GOP heavyweight and friend of Aspen Skiing Company's Crown family pays $31.5 million for Aspen pad

By Troy Hooper
Real VailNovember 8, 2010
The owner of the $31.5 million stone mansion that recently sold in Aspen is a clandestine Chicago fat cat who works and plays with Jim and Paula Crown, the owners of the Aspen Skiing Company, and bankrolls Republican causes.

J. Christopher Reyes bought the 15,000-square-foot pad Oct. 29, setting a new high for a single-family home sale in Pitkin County this year. It sits on 44 acres near the Buttermilk ski area and includes a guesthouse and horse stable. The property, once owned by the Pfisters, was listed for $47.5 million.

Reyes will now be able to easily participate in the rising tide of Republican strategizing in the liberal hotbed of Aspen.
Paula Crown, Christopher Reyes, Jim Crown and Andy McKenna at a Children's Memorial Hospital function.

Reyes is the chairman of Reyes Holdings LLC, the largest privately held firm in Chicago and the nation's largest beer distributor, with operations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. It is also the controlling U.S. distributor to McDonald's Corp. through its ownership of Martin-Brower Co.

Reyes prefers to keep a low profile.

"If no one knew me, I'd be just as happy,” he told Crain's Chicago Business in 2005.

But many of America's caviar eaters do know Reyes.

He is on the Forbes list of "The Richest People in America,” where he landed the 205th spot with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Reyes serves as chairman of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and on boards for institutions like the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and Big Shoulders Fund where he serves alongside Lester Crown, the patriarch of the Aspen Skiing Company.

Reyes was a former director of the Crown-controlled General Dynamics Corp. He chairs the Museum of Science and Industry with Jim Crown and Cindy Pritzker and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago with Susan Crown. Penny Pritzker serves with him on After School Matters.

“Beer distribution has not been the traditional path for executives rising to this inner sanctum of Chicago's corporate and philanthropic elite,” Steven Strahler of Crain's Chicago Business wrote. “But Mr. Reyes has done it, while crafting a new, squeaky-clean image for an industry with a shady past, particularly in this town.”

Reyes is also part of Chicago's political machine. He handed out $100,000 to the recently formed Two Party System Inc., which funded mostly Republican candidates for the Illinois General Assembly. He bought his Aspen retreat from Bob Zangrillo, founder of Chicago private-equity firm Z Capital.

Jim Crown is a director at the General Dynamics Corporation and a director at JP Morgan Chase & Co.


comments: 1 Comment on "GOP heavyweight and friend of Aspen Skiing Company's Crown family pays $31.5 million for Aspen pad"

LeeMulcahyPhD – April 08, 2013, at 9:28 a.m.

The Crowns are big $ in both General Dynamics, a merchant of death, and Wall Street's biggest bank. Here’s a little history about Mike Kaplan's role @ the helm of the Aspen Skiing Company [Skico]:

Skico recently banned a song firing the singer who wrote it and censoring the newspaper that covered it from all its Aspen properties, including National Forest. It's from Aspen Skollie from Feb 5th:

This is the story about a small town folk singer and his “anthem for local working people.” It’s about corporate bullying, irony and karma. It’s the story of “Big Money.”.

Dan Sheridan, a 20-plus year Aspen local, released an album in 2003 that included a song called “Big Money.” While the song has been popular among some locals, Sheridan has never gained much notoriety past the Aspen corridor of Highway 82. That is until recently. On January 1, 2010, Sheridan played a gig at Sneaky’s Tavern in the new and incomplete Snowmass Base Village. [Yesterday’s front page story was: Skico accused of fraudulent actions in Base Village condo sales. It was written by local author Brent Gardner-Smith.] A group in the small crowd requested “Big Money” and Sheridan obliged them by playing the song. Sheridan said he had noticed “dudes in full-length fur coats and cowboy boots” but that he “got the feeling that everyone wanted to hear it.”.

While no one ever heard from the man-fur sporting tourists, there was apparently one person in the crowd who did not want to hear it. An Aspen Skiing Company Vice President complained to the Director of Food and Beverage, and on the following Monday Sheridan was fried. By that Wednesday the Aspen Times published a story detailing the events, and Jeff Hanle, the Skico’s spokesman, was quoted as saying, “An artist can express himself how he wants. But that doesn’t mean we have to provide him the stage.” Suddenly everybody was talking about “Big Money.”.

The newspaper was flooded with letters to the Editor with such headlines as “Censorship by Skico,” “Downright Pathetic,” and “Boycott Skico,” and by Thursday the Aspen Skiing Company was calling Sheridan to say that he could come back and play any song except for “Big Money.” Aspen Daily News printed the story “Skico welcomes Sheridan back without “Big Money””. Hanle called the incident a “PR debacle” and said that he hoped Skico could put the incident behind them and move on.

Unfortunately for Skico, that was just the beginning. More letters poured into both Aspen newspapers,… and even Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield dissed the Skico for all to see on Grassroots TV. The original story became the most read article on the Aspen Times website, and it was picked up by Denver’s Westword.

Skico moved on and decided to ride the holiday wave by promoting Aspen Snowmass in major cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and L.A. The company took its first billboard ads since 1958 with the headline “It’s Time to Fly” featuring hometown sweetheart Gretchen Bleiler. However, the story would not die.

While the Skico was posting billboards along the 405 in L.A., the L.A. Times was printing an article titled “Folk song strikes a touchy chord in Aspen”, which can now be found on their website under Home/Collections/Wealthy People. Instead of giving Sheridan a quiet warning and letting a couple of urban cowboys take offense at a small show, Skico officials alienated Aspen locals and undermined their own major advertising campaign. Corporate karma can be a real bi#ch.

The story finally reached Gawker: “Take heart, hippie communist folk singer Dan Sheridan… you are quite correct. Big money ruins everything. And that’s going to suck for the rich, if they ever leave their cocaine-and-expensive-hooker-strewn Jacuzzis.”.

The good news is that Dan Sheridan is now a folk hero, and everyone wants to hear “Big Money.” Still, is an apology authentic if it only comes after you have been called out? Would Sheridan still have a job if the Aspen Times had never printed that story? No one at Skico has yet to take responsibility for the firing of Dan Sheridan. There is no transparency and no accountability, and perhaps that is why this story continues to play.

You have to wonder what is going on at Aspen Skiing Company. In a new story Curtis Wackerle for the Aspen Daily News ask why Skico has stopped delivery of the newspaper to its hotel properties. Hanle is quoted as saying that the amount of newsprint on display at the properties “was just overwhelming” and that it had nothing to do with the Daily News running the story “Skico’s green efforts didn’t include Residences at The Little Nell.”.

“An artist can express himself how he wants. But that doesn’t mean we have to provide him the stage” sounds a lot like “A newspaper can say what it wants, but that doesn’t mean we have to provide it the circulation” or advertise with it. It’s not so much a bullet to the Daily News as it is a sucker punch. Skico fail.

-Skollie Life

* Note Skico does now do a minute amount of advertising in the Daily News to appease local critics. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wait it gets better: Mulcahy [a Ski Instructor who wrote a letter complaining about the above in May 2010] faces trespassing charge for serving lawsuit
Former ski instructor taped court summons on door of Skico's headquarters
Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN — The battle between a former ski instructor and Aspen Skiing Co. took another odd twist Thursday when Lee Mulcahy received a summons for third-degree trespass after he taped a court notice onto a door at the firm's headquarters.

Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Levi Borst determined the trespass charge, a petty offense, was warranted because Mulcahy had been warned previously to stay off Skico property, according to an incident report. Mulcahy was banned from all Skico property when he was fired as a ski instructor in February 2011.

Mulcahy said he was simply trying to deliver a revised court summons for a lawsuit he filed against Jim and Paula Crown, members of the family that owns Skico. The lawsuit was initially filed in Pitkin County District Court. It was refiled in Pitkin County Court. Once it was refiled, Mulcahy was obligated to inform the Crowns.

“Being white trash, I was trying to save the money by taping the revision to the door” at Skico headquarters at 117 Aspen Airport Business Center, Mulcahy said.

In his lawsuit against the Crowns, Mulcahy is seeking to overturn the ban and damages of $1.

Earlier, Mulcahy tried to serve the revised summons by handing it to a Skico employee and asking her to take it inside, according to the incident report. The employee wouldn't help. So Mulcahy decided to tape the summons to an outside door at Skico offices. He said he had a 6-foot pole made from PVC pipe with him in case he needed an extension to avoid trespassing. However, he said he thought he was on a public sidewalk to a side door at Skico headquarters, so he walked up and taped the notice to the door.

Skico Senior Vice President and attorney Dave Bellack contacted the sheriff's department about Mulcahy's actions later Thursday. He reported the incident as a harassment because of Mulcahy's efforts to convince a Skico employee to take in the revised summons.

Mulcahy said he was contacted by a deputy at his home after he returned home Thursday night from bible study at an Aspen church. He requested that the deputy go to Skico headquarters with him to see if he actually trespassed on Skico property. Mulcahy said he will investigate whether he was on a public easement as part of his defense. The door opens to a parking lot that doesn't belong to Skico, he said.

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Skico had no comment about the incident.

Mulcahy claimed he was the victim in the incident. It shows how Skico “bullies the little guy,” he said.

“Should I expect this kind of disrespectful treatment from billionaires Jim and Paula Crown for pointing out they're limousine liberals .... for questioning their ban?” he said.

Mulcahy has a running battle against Skico over the wages paid to beginning ski instructors and other lower tier employees. Mulcahy wants Skico to pay what he calls a living wage.

Mulcahy was fired by Skico in February 2011. The company said it was for multiple infractions of company policy. Mulcahy claimed it was because he criticized company practices and talked to other instructors about forming a union.

He tried to get his job back by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) but was not reinstated. The NLRB did require Skico to restructure its ski school structure so that management didn't participate on employee grievance boards. Skico was also required to specifically inform employees it was within their rights to explore formation of a union.

Mulcahy said his fight with his former employer is over freedom of speech. In addition to his lawsuit against the Crowns, he filed a libel lawsuit earlier this year against Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan for comments Kaplan made at the time of Mulcahy's firing.

Mulcahy is supposed to appear in county court May 1 for the trespass case. He said he will try to get the hearing postponed because he will be in Africa installing water wells as part of a interfaith community volunteer project.

scondon@aspentimes.com
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FYI: I'm not a criminal, just a loud mouthed Texan who believes in freedom: --------------> Renaissance Man: How Aspen gave pro skier Lee Mulcahy a raison d’etre. By Jennifer Sherman.

Like many avid skiers, Lee Mulcahy started young. The pro skier strapped on his first pair of skis when he was 6 years old and 3 decades later he’s still on the slopes-and in grand style. Mulcahy took first place in the Colorado Zebulon Ski/Snowboard Crossover in February 2005 and is one of the most frequently requested ski and snowboard instructors at the Ski School of Aspen.

His accomplishments don’t stop there: Mulcahy is an artist in residence at the Anderson Art Center in Snowmass, and placed sixth at the US Nationals for Mountain Boarding-X in 2003 and seventh in 2005. He windsurfs, mountain bikes, camps, canoes, white-water kayaks, and does freestyle backflips on skis and a snowboard; he appeared on CBS’s The Amazing Race and The Rosie O’Donnell Show; and he serves on the Aspen Historical Society’s board of trustees.

Did we mention the Ph.D? Mulcahy moved to Aspen/Snowmass when he was 25, after wrapping up the coursework for his doctorate in 19th century French art and literature. “I thought, What a wonderful place to get away and write [my dissertation], says the Dallas-born, Fort Worth-raised athlete. “Problem is, there’s so much to do here. I could write… or go mountain biking. Finishing took a little longer than I thought it would.”

After completing his dissertation four years later, Mulcahy decided to make the Aspen area his permanent home. “The thought of unloading off Chair 4-the Burn Chair-at Snowmass early in the morning on a big, silent powder day, or the camaraderie at the front of the line at the Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain, was too tempting he says. “The money’s not great, but I don’t see stopping.”

Instructor Tip: Prepare your body for private lessons. “I give my clients a 10-minute workout to perform 3 times a week, six weeks before they arrive; it makes all the difference in the world.”

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