of the most interesting names we've come across in investigating the Reed Slatkin
case has been Ron Rakow.|
So Who is Ron Rakow?
August 2001 update - Read
about nearly $400,000 cash found in an FBI Raid on Rakow's home.
According to trusted sources, Ron Rakow flew to Switzerland in 2001, allegedly
at the behest of his "good friend" and fellow Scientologist Reed Slatkin, in order
to investigate "irregularities" in Slatkin's overseas accounts. The catch? According
to documents filed so far, there is some question as to whether these "Swiss accounts"
existed in the first place.
As part of a last-ditch effort to fend off increasingly suspicious investors,
Slatkin forged documents from a major Swiss bank to back up his story that the
funds were frozen pending an investigation into possible money laundering. When
investigators attempted to confirm the existence of the accounts, they came up
empty handed and discovered that the account numbers themselves, as given by Slatkin,
corresponded to no known Swiss accounts under his, or any other name. Slatkin
presented faxes to John Poitras
from an 'NAA Financial' - only none of the people involved in NAA Financial, nor
NAA Financial itself, seem to exist.
So what was Rakow doing in Switzerland on behalf of Slatkin if he was simply
another unknowing 'victim' of Slatkin's scam? (His partner, Denise Del Bianco,
is listed as having invested $80,389.93 with Slatkin, a comparatively small amount.)
Why would Reed send someone to look into Swiss accounts if he knew that
any discoveries abroad could sink his whole strategy? And why, during the
same time period, did Denise Del Bianco come on board with Gulf United Technology
Commerce, an obscure Swiss shell corporation dedicated to 'venture capital'
and 'high risk investments'?
Ron first came to our attention thanks to the unusual last name of another investor,
Jay Rakow, currently Vice President and Legal Counsel at MGM. While Jay does not
appear to be a Scientologist, we noted that he shared the same, somewhat unusual
last name, with a Scientologist and fellow entertainment industry personality,
Ron and his ex-wife Julie are both long time Scientologists - Patrons of the IAS,
according to Impact #86, with donations of $40 K each. Ron is also listed as a
Patron in 1990. He has also done the Ls, a very expensive, high level Scientology
course, according to Source #74.
Publicly, Ron Rakow seems to be best known for his days with the Grateful Dead,
although there are differing opinions on how good a job he did while acting as
the band's manager - or "manager", as he is derisively referred in this footnote
to an article
that appeared in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment Law & Practice
(How the Grateful Dead Turned Alternative Business and Legal Strategies Into
A Great American Success Story By Brian C. Drobnik, Spring 2000 Vol.
2, No. 2, pp. 242-266, footnote #135):
"Under their contract with Warner Brothers, they had split revenue
ten ways equally among each band member, their two roadies and their two managers.
The inception of Grateful Dead Records created a straightforward arrangement between
the band and Grateful Dead Records "manager" Ron Rakow (whom they had hired to
direct the project). There was also a separate agreement between Rakow and Garcia
for Round Records projects. This, of course, introduced jealously to utopia. However,
Garcia was doing virtually all of the songwriting and arranging, with others receiving
royalty cuts as "arrangers." The understanding was that Grateful Dead songs really
were arranged on stage, over the course of dozens of live performances. In this
sense, including a drummer as an arranger may have been more than simply a political
gesture, though Scully argues otherwise."
In "Garcia: A History of an American Life," by Blair Jackson,
there are differing opinions of Ron's efforts on the part of the band, with some
associates lauding him for both his managerial skills, including this work, which
includes the following
reminiscence from Ron on his start as manager of the Dead:
"I ran into the Grateful Dead office that day and explained this vision
to Jerry and McInitre at the same time, and they both seemed to love the idea.
So I got a separate letter from each of them that said essentially, 'Introducing
Ron Rakow. He's doing some work for us. Any help you can give him would be greatly
appreciated by us.' And I used that to go around the record industry and gather
data, which I then used to augment this vision I had and create a series of cash-flow
charts to explain different scenarios that might come up if we had our own company."
Other recollections show off his showy
Ron Rakow managed to finagle a deal whereby the band and extended
family bought 16 British-made Ford Cortinas so everyone had a way to get around
Marin and into the city. "He got them on time at a fleet price and they each put
in like $60 a month, taken out of their paychecks," M.G. remembers. "They were
pretty shitty, but they got us where we needed to go. All the cars ended up smashed
and broken and in lagoons and over cliffs - there are really astonishing stories
about these cars! We hit two deer with ours. It absolutely destroyed the front
end of the car, but we managed to keep driving and we made it home, but then that
was it. It was totaled." Rakow says he gave his own Cortina to the Black Panther
Party, who later drove it into San Francisco Bay, "but Pigpen kept his for something
like five years," Rakow says.
In this interview with Grateful Dead historian Gerald McNally, a less
trustworthy side of Ron appears:
"The lesson they had learned from Owsley and from Kesey was basically
to go for it. The lesson was about risking all for quality, and that was what
led them in 1973 to start their own record company, which lasted three years and
which, businesswise, was very creative---although the music they made for it was
limited. The problem was that it was run by a guy named Ron Rakow, who was a shark
and a hustler and eventually hustled them."
And finally, this
somewhat obscure excerpt from a webpage on, of all things, coincidence:
He said that next week he was going to Santa Fe, New Mexico to meet
a guy named Ron Rakow, and that Ron was going to take him to Nevada to meet a
Shaman named Rolling Thunder.
She said wow, what a coincidence, because she used to date a guy named "Cadillac
Ron Rakow, who was a producer for the "Grateful Dead years ago" and that Rolling
Thunder was her spiritual Grandfather. Coincidence? Then when Gordon got off of
the phone with an assurance that she would drop the charges, he remembered that
Ron Rakow was the former husband of the lady in South Florida and that he was
going to meet him in New Mexico with the daughter of that same woman in South
Florida. It was his daughter as well, another coincidence? By the way, Gordon
does not believe in coincidences, even though he had the round robin phone call.
As noted previously, Ron was recently
hit with a lawsuit by a Santa Fe art gallery after a dispute arose over the
ownership of several paintings, including a Georgia O'Keefe:
FE (AP) - A Santa Fe art gallery owner wants a judge to sort out who owns two
paintings, including one by the late famed New Mexico artist Georgia O'Keeffe.
Denise Del Bianco, currently the paramour of the increasingly interesting
Ron Rakow, is on Slatkin's 1999 client
list, where she is listed as having invested $80,389.93. Although there is
very little information about Denise, this
report from a Swiss bank describes her as an investor in "Gulf United
Technical Commerce." No further information about Gulf United is available.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, Mark Zaplin of Zaplin-Lambert Gallery asks a judge
to determine the rights and interests of himself, the Gerald Peters Gallery and
Ron Rakow and Denise DelBianco of Santa Barbara, Calif., in the ownership of an
O'Keeffe painting, Early Spring Tree.
Gulf United Technical Commerce Sàrl, à M o u d o n , rue Maubor get
20, nouvelle société à responsabilité limitée. Statuts du 22. 09. 2000.
Translation (courtesy of Babelfish):
But: conseil dans les domaines financier et économique sous la forme d'identification,
d'analyse et d'évaluation d'opportunités d'investisse ments représentés par des
valeurs mobilières publiques ou privées, y compris dans le domaine de la propriété
intellectuelle, notamment concernant le capital-risque, le joint venture et les
start-ups. Capital social entièrement libéré: CHF 20 000.
Associés: Paolo Corbi, de Viganello, à Moudon, pour une part de CHF 9000, gérant
avec signature individuelle, et Denise Del Bianco, des USA, à Santa Barbara (USA)
pour une part de CHF 11 000. Organe de publicité: FOSC.
26 septembre 2000
GULF United Technical Trades Sàrl, with M O U D O N, street Maubor
get 20, new limited liability company. Statutes of the 22. 09. 2000. Drank: consulting
in the fields financier and economic in the form of identification, analysis and
evaluation of opportunities of invests ments represented by public or deprived
transferable securities, including in the field of the intellectual property,
in particular concerning the venture capital, the joint venture and the start-ups.
Entirely released authorized capital: CHF 20 000. Associated: Paolo Corbi, of
Viga-nello, in Moudon, for a share of CHF 9000, managing with individual signature,
and Denise Del Bianco, of the USA, in Santa Barbara (the USA) for a share of CHF
11 000. Body of publicity: FOSC. September 26 2000
Could the above "Gulf United Technical Commerce" be an unwanted footprint
leftover from Rakow's Switzerland trip?