This blog may be one of the few publications in the Western world that has never written the word “Kardashian,” but that has now changed. In the stories about the robbery in Paris of Kim Kardashian we found numerous issues that touch on the work we do.Kardashian Paris Investigation

After my recent book The Art of Fact Investigation came out in May, a number of people wrote to me and suggested another chapter in the next edition about what people could do to maintain privacy in the face some who may want to dig up facts on them.

The easy advice for Kim Kardashian-West: if you are on social media a lot with information about valuable possessions and your whereabouts, criminals will easily learn about your valuable possessions and your whereabouts. Big rings on Instagram? Not a good idea. The super-secret apartment hotel in Paris? With paparazzi following you everywhere, how secret is any place you go?

The harder advice both to accept and to act on relates to some speculation in the media that the crime was an inside job, because the thieves knew that Kardashian’s security guard was not on duty that night.

When we let others into our homes and into our lives, there is always the chance that one of those people may feed information to the outside. This is why many people like a preliminary background check of the electrician or plumber they are about to admit into their home. They like a more thorough look at someone who will watch their children. But Kardashian-West isn’t just dealing with plumbers and babysitters.

How many photographs are there of her bringing home groceries, for example? She eats therefore food is delivered by people. When she buys something large, that too is delivered. It is unlikely that she drives her car to Jiffy Lube when it’s time for an oil change. People drive for her.

We have written before about the value of talking to workers who have been in someone’s home. Movers, gardeners, handymen – all get to know the home to an extent and the people who work there. If one of them becomes estranged because they are fired or are not paid, they have every incentive to talk about the person they used to serve.

We are not saying that Kardashian-West has been betrayed by any of her staff. Only that when police found out that the bodyguard was off duty that night, they surely wanted to know: who else knew that? And they would have started the questioning close to home.

 

Want to know more?

  • Visit charlesgriffinllc.com and see our two blogs, The Ethical Investigator and the Divorce Asset Hunter;
  • Look at my book, The Art of Fact Investigation (available in free preview for Kindle at Amazon);
  • Watch me speak about Helping Lawyers with Fact Finding, here.

 

GettyImages_sb10066530g-001.jpgThe media seems to be having a good chuckle over the recent legal tiff between hedge fund manager Daniel Shak and his ex-wife, professional poker player Beth Shak. The couple divorced about three years ago, but Daniel is requesting that the court amend their divorce settlement.  He argues that his wife hid assets from him during the divorce and their value entitles him to an additional hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

The assets in question? During their marriage, Beth apparently invested a fortune in a vast collection of 1,200 pairs of designer shoes and handbags.  It seems that Beth’s shoe collection is legendary, the subject of profiles in papers and television. For her part, Beth alleges the assets were far from hidden.  She claims her shoe collection was left in plain sight, stored in her home’s master bedroom closet during the marriage. 

Ultimately, the courts will determine whether Daniel is right that these assets were hidden and if they warrant reassessing the divorce settlement.  Whatever the outcome, there are a number of lessons divorce attorneys and investigators can learn from this case. 

We wrote a recent piece in Bloomberg BNA Family Law Reporter about asset searches in divorces, “Matrimonial Asset Searches: Your Client Knows More Than She Thinks.”  We’ve also detailed in a few blog entries, including “Thinking About Divorce? The Essential Checklist” and “The Investigation Starts With the Client Interview“, the importance of a thorough client interview when starting any asset search. 

  • When matrimonial attorneys interview their clients about their spouse’s assets, they should encourage their client to think beyond items that are obviously valuable, like jewelry and artwork
  • Attorneys should remind their clients that all items their spouse collected, from designer shoes to crystal figurines to snow globes, could be considered assets.  Odds are that if any amount of money, time and effort was spent in building a collection, then that collection is worth scrutinizing. 

This story is also a reminder about the importance of completing a thorough litigation search to track down hidden assets.  For instance, a litigation search could uncover a contractor who sued for payment after installing a secret room.  Or perhaps a gardener who may have sued for back wages, but when contacted is happy to share his knowledge about whether his former employers were keeping any secrets from each other. 

Additionally, if there is any hint that assets are hidden within a home, any contractors or employees that worked in the home should be tracked down.  A spouse might not admit that they had a hidden closet where they squirreled away their latest treasures.  However, the handyman that helped install the shelves in the closet, or the housekeeper tasked with keeping the room tidy might be able to provide information to compel the spouse to confess. 

Similarly, it may be worthwhile talking to any movers hired to help the spouse relocate.  After all, they can provide firsthand information about any expensive items they packed and moved.