$87,000 for an area rug?

January 22, 2009

Would you spend $87,000 on an area rug? Absolutely, if you are John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch.

Thain refurbished his office at Merrill to tune of $1.22 million in company money, according to a Daily Beast/CNBC report.

Pictures of the rug are as yet unavailable, but in the words of the Big Lebowski, we bet it really tied the room together.

It was a rough day for Thain. Hours after the rug story came out, he was ousted from Bank of America, just three weeks after the Merrill merger closed.

Other extravagant purchases reportedly included:

  • A “mahogany pedestal table” ($25,000)
  • A “19th Century Credenza” ($68,000)
  • A “George IV Desk” ($18,000)
  • A chandelier in the private dining room ($13,000)
  • A “parchment waste can” ($1,400)
38 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The man should be tried for theft!! What an idiot!!!

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

If only that $1,400 trash can were big enough to handle all his insolvent investment decisions.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

In response to the outcry over John Thain’s sense of entitlement … “Let them eat cake” !

Posted by John P. Crowley | Report as abusive

Unreal, the hits just keep on coming with the financial sector thinking they are better then the rest. Who was he accountable to? Obviously nobody, this is on par with government waste. This man in my opinion should be jailed on ethical issues and misappropriating company funds. But in this day of niceties nothing will happen and he will move on and run another company while the people doing the work get wage cuts or lose their job. Disgusting!

Posted by Moji | Report as abusive

“Hey man, you just don’t get it! The rug REALLY did tie the room together!”

Anyway, I wonder if Thain feels like someone just peed on his rug!

Posted by The Dude | Report as abusive

I know guys like this one. They will tell you that they need that kind of spending to maintain the lifestyle which they consider to be normal. Hence, we all see things differently. This guy is into excess and probably will always be that way.


he is worse than a catholic priest (i am catholic)!! ask your local parish how much they spend on their wine chalise. don’t be surprised if they don’t tell you. $15,000.00 is nothing to them either! chief executives stealing money from taxpayers/ priests and parishes with their starving followers. is there any difference here? ceo’s in the name of greed. and, priests in the name of god.


Posted by gtr | Report as abusive

Obama needs to clean up the financial system and should start by throwing all these crooked fraudsters (bankers) in jail.

Posted by David Weldon | Report as abusive

This is just an example of one executive exposed….There are many more just like him. This kind of utter extravagance and greed is so morally wrong, so ugly that it almost incomprehensible for the average citizen to grasp…….People steeped in money could probably between them solve the worlds financial crisis and still live like royalty… much is enough for these individuals? Is there no sense of shame or immorality in these people….Thain you got caught….SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU!!!


Are you there?,Say a prayer for the Pretender,who started out so young and strong,only to surrender…..


THE GREED and ARROGANCE STARTS FROM THE TOP and rolls down. You can bet his staff follows his lead. These people definitely think they deserve anything they spend and can do no wrong. If they only knew the financial pain they caused on the shareholders for their arrogance and INCOMPETENCY!!!! I DO NOT WISH HIM WELL…

Posted by Amecuk | Report as abusive

Absolutely outrageous. He has the balls to spend $1.2 million decorating his office after what has happened to his company in the last 2 years? He should be castrated!

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

I am mortified and stupefied to hear and see that there are people as greedy and avaricious as this specimen. Where is the Board of Directors in this whole fiasco? They have obviously agreed to all of this slurping from the trough. I can only hope that they don’t slip and fall into the trough as well and drown themselves. Disgust and anger can only begin to describe a long list of emotions running through me.


If he were decorating his own house and footing the bill, he can spend whatever he wants. The fact that his shareholders were paying for his princely tastes makes him just another Master of the Universe with an inflated ego and larcenous heart. I hope they auction off the entire office at Christie’s, and put it back in the company’s pathetic dwindling coffers.


In all fairness, Thain wasn’t working for the government until recently. He’s a rich, private individual and their shareholders did not disagree to his expenses, so there’s no reason to string him up like this. After all, there isn’t many CEO’s who would blink an eye to a million dollar office, in a bull market.

Soon enough, we’ll be stoning people because they drive a SUV.

Posted by devil's advocate | Report as abusive

In my opinion what needs to happen is a website needs to be created that lists compensation for CEOs in years where their company is not profitable, unless the compensation is $0.. Along with the CEO name, the following information should be available to the public on the website: a clear photograph of the CEO, the addresses of his residences, names of his family members (with clear photographs), locations frequented by the CEO and family members, description of the family cars with the license plate numbers, and any other information that would facilitate peaceful demonstrations against the CEO and their family members by shareholders who lost money. Alternatively the CEOs could voluntarily return the compensation in exchange for their privacy. Why not put the greedy CEOs in the public spotlight like we do movie stars. We could create a “Greedy CEO” pap. I believe the CEO greediness problem would become immediately self-correcting.


It puzzles me,how thw are allowed to spend that kind of money,ant at the same time,”there is NOT money to reimbers our clients”.

Posted by R | Report as abusive

Thain must be very vain, that’s the problem with these people that believe they are better than the rest of us. How much is enough. I think we should all be realizing that there is more to life than “stuff.”

Posted by Karl | Report as abusive

It is time we demand a one time wealth tax to pay for these bailouts. Bernie Sanders of VT proposed it – tax assets over 2 million on sliding scale. the people who have accumulated assets over the past 20 years of low taxes and greedy executive compensation schemes should pay for the mess now. Where is the patriotism? why are multi-millionaires against giving 1 or 2% of their net worth to the country that made it possible – most of us pay income taxe rates far greater than that??? Even Buffet said he would contribute of his own free will.

Posted by klh | Report as abusive

Power corrupts, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

Sadly, he probably still doesn’t understand what he did wrong. He thought he was being spendhtrift by passing up the $200K one.


Shag makes a good point. That office upgrade was in the company’s budget before he spent it. Several people in this organization saw this coming and thought it was reasonable. These people still have their jobs and one of them will take his place.


you wan to teach wall street a lesson? and the greedy bankers too? buy a forclosed home for 1/3rd the price, in a family member’s name, then walk way from your mortgage trap. A person who pays 2000 a month can save 24000 in a year, 50000 in two and in seven years,168000.00. of course save the money in your kid’s name. then, you can take the home you already bought for a steal, give it to your kid(s) for being so generous and lending you their credit. and now seven years later, you can pay cash for that big 5 bedroom house you been dreaming about and pay cash and guess what? no mortgage.. no expensive forced insurance(which will force ins companies to lower their rates,)and you can save again for another 5 years and go on vacation everyday. Of course the figures are conservative because the bank will have to pay you interest on your savings while it grows.

Posted by igotmyway | Report as abusive

It is all about governance, governance, governance. Who is holding people accountable in the chain of command? that is the big failure: Governance + enterprise risk, throughout the corporate, especially financial sector. And transparency is not enough, it needs to be tied to accountability. Perhaps the new executive emphasis on values will help us down the road..

Posted by Mar | Report as abusive

Maybe I am a little slow on the take up – 80gs on a rug?
no matter how it may be construed this is not representing the best interests of the shareholders
egos contunue to run a muck

Posted by AHeats | Report as abusive

We are all shocked and mortified at this man’s outrageous behavior and rightfully so. The thing is, you don’t just wake up one morning and decided to be this reckless. This is the result of small, selfish, seemingly insignificant business decisions culminating into most of the BIG problems we have today. It begins with the small stuff !Sentencing this man to death ( which seems more than appropriate)does not and will not stop this kind of behaviour. We all need to take a close look at our own disregard and disrespect for money. In doing so, we help each other and will become a better people and nation for it.


You really want me to comment? I don’t think so. Combat veterans would blush.


Was that before or after Merryl received federal funds? Anyway, I’d give him the “18 U.S.C. ยง 666. Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds” treatment.
What a crook.

Posted by Robynne | Report as abusive

There would not be this fuss if he bought a picture. Some rugs can be worth $80,000 and much more as antique rugs are the repository of great art and culture.
One needs to be properly and soundly advised.

Did John Thain get stitched up by some random decorator matching the beige walls?
Probably but I hope not. Love to see what this rug is so that I might make a meaningful comment.


The above corporate greed has been going on for years. When deregulation of the finance industry came about, is when it started. There is a definite pecking (resppnsibility) order in the corporate world. It starts with the Board of Directors who are suppose to responsibly manage the corporation. Unfortunately, they have become part of the problem. They are in cahoots with management and as a result look the other way. Bottom line…..shareholders are getting stolen from!

Posted by beingreal | Report as abusive

The BOD gets 350-400k a yr for plopping down in a comfy chair for one day a month to read the lies of the CEO and approve his comp pkg…anyone who disagrees doesn’t get the huge check.

Posted by bobbiemc | Report as abusive

Even Warren Buffet wouldn’t do this….
this guy should should be imprisoned in a big dirty trashcan!

Posted by Frugal Frank | Report as abusive

Hey…This sort of spending is in line with our first lady (Bush) who spent half a MILLION on a new set of dishes for the white house, just weeks before their term ended.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

how easy it is to spend money when it isn’t your own! So sad when they waste so much on things that just don’t matter.. and yes,, the white house china was another gross waste of money! Tax dollars or not.. We have a bunch of crazy people running our country! I am mad as hell but have no idea how to stop the crazy folks in Washintion.. I live within my budget.. it isn’t that hard folks.. just do it!

Posted by barb | Report as abusive

This kind of rediculous spending is nothing more than misappropriation of corporate funds. Thain should be indicted, tried, put in jail, and fined an amount equal to 2 or 3 times the value of the misappropriation.

Posted by golfer78015 | Report as abusive

Obama just “hired” (with our money)the same celebrity decorator to redo the family quarters at the White House … so much for the “sharing of hardships” he spoke of in his inaugural address.

Posted by decsatsv | Report as abusive

…and the pursuit of happiness. Who’s happiness? Sure not the American tax payer owho is in foreclosure and can’t get any assistance from the same banks and “financial institutions” who just months ago were sceaming on capital hill about how much trouble they were in. Wow, it’s good top see OUR tax dollars going to good use. My kid can’t get free lunch at school.

Posted by A. Dawson | Report as abusive

John Thain can decorat 100 rooms on spending same money if he buys rugs direct from the artisans of Tharparkar Pakistan, who make those rugs.

Posted by Dev | Report as abusive

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