Thursday, December 01, 2005

Same Story, Two Perspectives

Same story, two perspectives, my commentary between the two articles in bold:

This is from the NY Daily News:

History will forever record Elizabeth Brooks' bat mitzvah as "Mitzvahpalooza."

For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

I hear it was garish display of rock 'n' roll idol worship for which the famously irascible CEO of DHB Industries, a Westbury-based manufacturer of bulletproof vests, sent his company jet to retrieve Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday gig in Pittsburgh.

I'm also told that in honor of Aerosmith (and the $2 million fee I hear he paid for their appearance), the 50-year-old Brooks changed from a black-leather, metal-studded suit - accessorized with biker-chic necklace chains and diamonds from Chrome Hearts jewelers - into a hot-pink suede version of the same lovely outfit.

The party cost an estimated $10 million, including the price of corporate jets to ferry the performers to and from. Also on the bill were The Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh performing with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks; DJ AM (Nicole Richie's fiance); rap diva Ciara and, sadly perhaps (except that he received an estimated $250,000 for the job), Kenny G blowing on his soprano sax as more than 300 guests strolled and chatted into their pre-dinner cocktails.

"Hey, that guy looks like Kenny G," a disbelieving grownup was overheard remarking - though the 150 kids in attendance seemed more impressed by their $1,000 gift bags, complete with digital cameras and the latest video iPod.

For his estimated $500,000, I hear that 50 Cent performed only four or five songs - and badly - though he did manage to work in the lyric, "Go shorty, it's your bat miztvah, we gonna party like it's your bat mitzvah."

At one point, I'm told, one of Fitty's beefy bodyguards blocked shots of his boss performing and batted down the kids' cameras, shouting "No pictures! No pictures!" - even preventing Brooks' personal videographers and photographers from capturing 50 Cent's bat-miztvah moment.

"Fitty and his posse smelled like an open bottle of Hennessy," a witness told told me, adding that when the departing rapper prepared to enter his limo in the loading dock, a naked woman was spotted inside.

I'm told that Petty's performance - on acoustic guitar - was fabulous, as was the 45-minute set by Perry and Tyler, who was virtuosic on drums when they took the stage at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Henley, I hear, was grumpy at the realization that he'd agreed to play a kids' party.

I'm told that at one point Brooks leapt on the stage with Tyler and Perry, who responded with good grace when their paymaster demanded that his teenage nephew be permitted to sit in on drums. At another point, I'm told, Tyler theatrically wiped sweat off Brooks' forehead - and then dried his hand with a flourish.

Yesterday, Brooks disputed many details provided to me by Lowdown spies at the affair and by other informed sources, scrawling on a fax to me: "All dollar figures vastly exaggerated."

He added: "This was a private event and we do not wish to comment on details of the party."


Jesus Christ, this guy was living out his own wet dream, jumping on stage with Aerosmith. I'm very disappointed in the rockers who participated in this mess. I mean, fuck, what won't they do for money? Here's the same story from Fox News. Since Fox is notoriously conservative, you know there's even more dirt on this guy than they are reporting. It's like the story that just keeps on giving!

Rock Stars' Host Faces SEC Investigation

David H. Brooks, the man who laid out $10 million for his daughter's bat mitzvah celebration, has been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission since last year.

Brooks gained notoriety in the last couple of weeks when it was revealed he had hired Aerosmith, the Eagles, Stevie Nicks, 50 Cent, Ciara, Kenny G and Tom Petty to play at a party for his 13-year-old daughter this past weekend. Brooks took over the two floors of the Rainbow Room for the event, installing hi-tech sound and light equipment.

Many of the acts are managed by Irving Azoff and Howard Kaufman's powerful Los Angeles firm. But what reports of the lavish, over-the-top and some might say completely inappropriate party was who Brooks was, or what trouble he's been in. It's a lot.

He's under a major SEC investigation, as I will report in a moment. That's not all.

His company, DHB, as reported, is a defense contractor that makes bullet-proof vests for the Army. But what published stories did not report was that DHB is now and has been the subject of several class-action suits stemming from, among other things, a government recall of those bullet-proof vests.

In May, the Marine Corps recalled 5,277 combat vests made by a DHB's subsidiary issued to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti because of concerns that they failed a test to determine whether they could stop a bullet.

This occurred six months after DHB announced a $100 million contract with the Defense Department on Dec. 23, 2004. The contract, Brooks said at the time, could be worth as much as $500 million.

Coincidentally, Brooks and the insiders at his company sold off about $200 million worth of DHB stock between Nov. 29 and Dec. 29, 2004. Brooks, according to publicly available filings, sold about $186 million himself, not counting another $50 million in sales that had already been planned.

This seems curious to the outsider's eye. Today, DHB sells around $4 a share on the AMEX. Recently, DHB Industries reported it lost $41.7 million in the third quarter of 2005, the result of special charges, stock compensation and research and development costs.

But things were a lot different one year ago today. In fall 2004, the stock began a sudden climb out of the $11-$12 range toward a high of $20. That's where it was on Dec. 23, the same day as the press release announcing the $100 million contract. Brooks and co. had already begun a huge sell off a few days earlier culminating in an even bigger one on Dec. 27.

That's how he was able to bring in Aerosmith and friends for his daughter's party.

Ironically, though, the SEC investigation into DHB had already commenced before that. The company acknowledges being investigated at first for "certain related party transactions between the Company and affiliates of Mr. David H. Brooks (the Company's Chief Executive Officer)."

But they acknowledge that since then, the investigation has widened to matters relating to the Company's reporting and treatment of executive compensation (primarily relating to Brooks).
The SEC investigation also comes from investors learning that Brooks purchased parts for his products made by a company owned by his wife.

Meanwhile, Brooks has also been looking to become the Denise Rich of the Republican party. A quick check of political donations this year shows that Brooks contributed $25,000 this past June to the National Republican Senate Committee.

A spokesman for Brooks, Manuel Rubio, said the company did not comment on their stock price. As for the party, Rubio told me, "I prefer country music."

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