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a plea for help from Ericopoly


ERICOPOLY
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Hi,

I have been going through a divorce since early 2016. 

 

She is trying to take primary custody of my children and wants spousal support arguing that I retired from Microsoft in early 2008 only so that I could busy myself full-time with researching investments.

 

Sanjeev and Mohnish should remember that I contacted them around the time that I retired telling them that I was hoping that they would manage my money.  I dragged my feet for years until 2014 but my contacting them should be evidence that I had no plan to make investing a full time "job".  It was a hobby that made tons of money, but I repeatedly stated over and over again that I'm just a copycat that can't do fundamental research -- that's not a professional investor.  I spent my time socializing on the board.

 

My posts to the old MSN Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders board in early 2008 were all lost.  Those posts explained how I retired in order to prioritize my life around focusing on spending time with my children while they are still young.  That's exactly what I did until the day I separated from her in August 2016.  Since then she has said "I did everything and he only focused on financial matters".

 

Please write me an email explaining what I was posting to the board on this matter if you were on the board all this time.

 

I also have said repeatedly that I just copy from other people and I don't do actual security analysis.  I typically kept "bet it all" highly concentrated "portfolios" that require little time to maintain.  I needed adult stimulation as being around kids all day can do to a man, so I would comment from time to time during the day on various topics.  This board was a social water-cooler outlet for my daycare job.  Investing was my hobby and I liked discussing it.  I also made lots of off topic comments.

 

Now is the time if you'd like to tell me that I didn't really contribute with any serious fundamental research that would have taken all day long alone in a room to produce.  It's the truth and I need that truth to be told by other witnesses.

 

She is also taking me to trial in July for primary custody.  We are currently in a custody evaluation with a forensic psychologist and it matters who took care of the children day to day. 

 

The sooner the better if you can write me an email.

 

Thanks old friends.  I hope to be involved again when this is over.

 

Eric

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I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through, Eric. If I had been on the board in those years, I'd be digging through archives and helping in any way, but I joined later (in 2011).

 

But for the little that it's worth, I can vouch for everything that you wrote above to the best of my knowledge. You made very few, very intermittent bets that happened to be very large and asymmetric. You made your money by being smarter and having higher conviction, not by spending more time on investing than others. You've always presented yourself as retired and doing this as a hobby, and you explicitly said that your big trades were based on what public investors did (ie. BAC trade was after Buffett invested, etc), you wrote about all kinds of non-investing topics, and even many of your investing-related posts were clearly more thought-experiments to amuse yourself than anything you'd actually try to make money with, and you frequently talked about your family and your kids and walks on the beach and enjoying your free time and freedom from work.

 

Wishing you the best!

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I am sorry to hear your story as well. I always thought that you had retired after making certain amount of money and you were spending time with your kids. It was clear from your posts that you were not spending 100s of hours to do research. You made occasional, but big bets.  I was not in this board before 2008 and I can't add much about that period. Hope things get better for you soon.

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She is specifically stating to the court that I asked her if I could leave Microsoft to focus full-time on managing our investments.  She says that I worked 40 hours a week at it and that she made this possible by taking care of the children while I worked.

 

We have only lived on the west coast in Washington and California.  There is no need for help from her because the markets open way before the kids get up from school and close before they come home -- it only takes a few minutes to make the trades before they rise and they can't be executed after school.

 

Her only possible case would be if she can convince the judge that I was buried in fundamental research.

 

Perhaps those of you who manage portfolios professionally can comment on how much time it would take you per week to watch over a portfolio primarily composed of just 1, 2, or 3 companies at a time.  Would you need a nanny or a wife to manage the kids for you?  Most of you do that in addition to your full time jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eric,

 

I really sorry you are going though this. I am searching through my notes from the MSN message board days but could not find much from a quick search, but would keep  looking over the weekend.

 

I think Liberty summarized it pretty well and I can vouch for you similarly.

 

Wish you best of luck and hope things work out well.

 

Vinod

 

 

 

 

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The original board was on MSM groups, there are archives on archive.org from multiple points in 2008 as well as other years. 

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20080115000000*/http://groups.msn.com/BerkshireHathawayShareholders

 

I'm sorry you are going through this, I hope this helps.

 

Edit: It doesn't look like that link is clickable.  Copy and paste this link into your browser and then click on 2008 on the timeline:

https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://groups.msn.com/BerkshireHathawayShareholders

 

 

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From the ask Ericopoly thread:

 

 

 

Posts: 6896

View Profile  Personal Message (Offline)

 

Re: Ask Eric!

« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 11:36:07 AM »

Quote

I typically wake around 6 am and check the pre-market quotes while in bed.  Then I drink coffee and walk my daughter to her public elementary school where there are only 14 kids in the class in addition to 2 full-time paid assistants.  So that's 3 paid adults for just 14 kids.  I'm not kidding!  And that's a public school in California.

 

Then lately I've been going on a two hour walk (foot surgery two years ago worked out).  I get back from that walk and go swimming for a half hour (one thing we splurge on is we keep the pool heated to 90 -- but some of that is solar heating).

 

Then I walk the dogs.  Or sometimes I go for a walk with my wife on the beach (she is usually doing her ceramics hobby in her studio).

 

If I don't go for my two hour walk, I'll be the one driving my son to his pre-school.  It's about 100 yards from the beach, so I'll leave the car in his school parking lot and go walk the beach, see the pelicans, watch the surfers (his pre-school is basically my parking spot for Hammond's Beach).

 

I go on fishing trips (flyfishing).  I've taken horse riding lessons -- we went for a trail ride last night in Death Valley (awesome!).

 

For my 40th birthday my wife is giving me surfing lessons -- so perhaps less watching the surfers from now on and I'll be doing more surfing.

 

Death Valley is hot!  Man, it was like 98 degrees yesterday.  It's bizarre -- this is winter!

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Sorry you're going through this. It doesn't seem likely for a judge to accept forum posts as usable evidence, no? The above post from CassiusKing1 is good, but that could be recreated in seconds.

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Oh man, sorry to hear you're going thru this. My uncle is also going thru a messy divorce...not fun.

 

I remember you saying back in 2012 (when I joined this website) how your plan is to have Sanjeev/Corner Market Capital manage your $$$s. I mean, that was your jam, right? Quit MSFT, take the cash you made there and make the easy leveraged BAC trades that we all were making, and then give it all to Sanjeev et. al. for the long haul.

 

Not sure how much any of this will help, but good luck. Sadly, freedom truly ain't free  :-[

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Sorry you're going through this. I joined in 2014 and there were time where I've gone back and read a lot ofyour postings and not once you said you maintained investment full time. I think going through the internet way back machine is probably the best way to dig up old posts from msn.

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Hey Eric, I'm sorry that you find yourself in this unfortunate situation and hope it gets resolved quickly and favorably.

 

I haven't been on the board that long but if you need a letter saying that as far as I've seen you've spent your time talking about taxes, the cost of living in Santa Barbara and other nonsense like that without comping up with any ideas I'd be glad to do it. Furthermore the Ask Eric! thread contains plenty of statements from you about how you have no clue about investing.

 

But like others have said, the opinion of internet dudes probably won't hold much weight in a court. While it's hard to prove a negative, I would focus more on proving that you are not a professional investor with facts. If I was making an argument I'd say that you can be a professional in two ways: as a fundamental investor or as a trader. Look at what those things entail.

 

As a fundamental investor you would spend copious amounts of time reading annual reports, going on earnings calls, reading research, building valuation models. I don't think anyone can claim that you are a professional fundamental investor if you don't go on conference calls.

 

Let's look at a trader. Which you could fall into because you make heavy use of options. How does that look like? Well they have subscriptions to data services, information services, they come up with strategies, they build trading models, they back test models. I'm guessing you haven't done a lot of that.

 

You can get historical call records and do forensic analysis of your hard drives to get evidence you haven't been doing this stuff. It may cost a bit but given the stakes it's worth it.

 

I should say I'm not a lawyer and you should definitely run everything through one. But as a professional investor I'd look at the above to determine whether one spends substantial time focused on investing or not.

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Hey Eric,

 

I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. I've been wondering what's been going on but hope the best.

 

I've known you for quite a while now and know that you've said many, many  times that you simply follow what others do and that you have no real analytical experience or valuation knowledge. You've also said many times how much time you spend with your children and that you're giving up the huge, concentrated investments in order to spend more time with your loved ones and delegating those responsibilities to others.

 

If you want me to send a personal email. I'm happy to do that too. Like others said, make sure you run the idea of message board emails through your attorney. I'm not sure how good that'll look to a judge. G

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I think Eric should look for documents that prove that he was involved with the kids, get statements from the people who been running the activities, friends, That ought to be easier than showing some post from and obscure Internet forum, which are almost more likely to play into the hands of your wife’s lawyer. Good luck!

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She is trying to take primary custody of my children and wants spousal support arguing that I retired from Microsoft in early 2008 only so that I could busy myself full-time with researching investments.

 

Sorry all of this is going on in your life.  We've missed seeing your comments here.

 

I am definitely not an attorney, I'm just a guy thinking this through, but here are a few thoughts for you/your attorney if applicable. Forgive me if this is totally irrelevant to your situation - I have very little knowledge of asset separation precedent in divorces.

 

Thinking about the concept of 'spousal support', assuming this means you pay her a fixed amount per month/year doesn't make sense even if you were a professional investor because you have no clients to draw an income from.  Your household investments are an asset on a balance sheet, not an income item with a certain monthly/yearly income value.  Assuming she is getting half of the marital assets and then ALSO wants a steady income doesn't make logical sense if your household income comes directly from volatile assets.  Therefore, I would suggest if she wants your investment expertise you could continue to manage her investments and your investments and she would then receive the income/capital appreciation or losses based on your investment expertise (in reality she wouldn't agree to this which proves the point somewhat that she doesn't think you're such a good professional investor after all).  Her getting half of the marital assets, which should earn interest/capital gains on their own, and then ALSO getting an additional portion of your half of the interest/capital gains seems like double-dipping and if it could be explained in a clear common-sense way, might get you somewhere with a judge. 

 

Sorry if that came across convoluted or doesn't apply.

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Hi Ericopoly!

 

I will start by saying that I miss your time here! You have been mostly away for what? 4 or 5 years!!!

 

In terms of you being a full time investor, trader, etc. This is totally false per everything that I have read over the years.

 

I recall that you made 4 large investments: Fairfax, Odyssey Re, Bank of America and MBIA over a period stretching since 2006. How could that be considered using all of your time?

 

I also recall that your wife was very pleased with some of the gains that you made for her with MBIA. That post should be retrievable. More importantly, that money is real and should have appeared in her account. Did she complain then?

 

I recall that you left your employment at Microsoft after putting a good portion of your savings into Fairfax calls in 2006 and obtaining an extraordinary return. Almost like a lottery win.

 

And yes, you mentioned multiple times that you used others research to make your investments, you "retired" again by having others manage a significant portion of your funds many years ago and yes you mentioned that you wanted to enjoy life, spend time with your family, get your knee (or knees fixed) since 2006.

 

Like others said, and I would add, trading records, credit card records, memberships, affidavits/witnesses of where you were, what you did with your kids, could go a long way in proving what you were up to.

 

And please, please hire yourself a top lawyer!

 

In any case, PM me if you need my help.

 

Cardboard

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Eric,

 

1) Reached out to u via DM with one avenue that may help with your situation.

 

2) I believe the old site got archived by Sanjeev and I imagine there is some way to prove the veracity of the post from that time. I believe the flow of posts do an accurate job of framing your state of mind during that time like a journal. Maybe Sanjeev has an idea of proving the veracity. Also I'm sure others including myself can vouch for those post once you find the relevant ones in some formal manner that shows its not some made up thing but actual people willing to say they read those posts from that time.

 

I for one remember you posting about Santa Barbara and having the option on the house you were renting, the tesla (having them come to fix it), there's plenty of anecdotes you shared during that time...

 

Best of luck, but be rational and stay truthful as you try and fight someone that is twisting the facts for their own gain. Don't stoop to their level and hopefully the legal system will see thru the fabrication and surface the facts.

 

Look forward to helping in any way we can.

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I do remember one exchange where another poster couldn't believe Eric hadn't looked at the call report (for bank of america I believe).  I think at one point Eric even said he didn't even know what a call report was.

 

P.S. Just googled to find the exchange about the call report, it was between you and planmaestro in the bank of america warrants thread around nov 12 2012.  Also, I was just reading the "Ask Eric" thread and there's a lot of you telling people that you don't really know much.  There's also some stuff about you spending time with your kids.

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The fact that this thread even exists is counterproductive (although some advice is worthwhile). It’s like getting help from your nerdy friends to prove that you are not nerdy.

 

I would delete this thread and concentrating on proving they you contributed to raising your kids, that’s it.  The fact that you did investments on the side doesn’t matter. Other folks have to go to work 8-10 hours a day and still don’t lose custody of their kids in the case of divorce - there is a high hurdle for this nowadays.

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The fact that this thread even exists is counterproductive (although some advice is worthwhile). It’s like getting help from your nerdy friends to prove that you are not nerdy.

 

I would delete this thread and concentrating on proving they you contributed to raising your kids, that’s it.  The fact that you did investments on the side doesn’t matter. Other folks have to go to work 8-10 hours a day and still don’t lose custody of their kids in the case of divorce - there is a high hurdle for this nowadays.

+1 this (but IMNAL etc)

 

Secondly, is I sort of doubt that arguing that you were just an lucky amateur that didn't spend a lot of time on investing is the best. Doesn't really create a very "responsible" image if what you do is just gamble big with all your money... secondly... if you drag this forum in your fight I don't think it will really help since you have probably been one of the most active members with almost 7K posts (and that doesn't count the posts from the MSN board time)... Good luck arguing you didn't spend a lot of time on investing if you have been one of the most active members on an investing board.

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