Ex-CBOT titan who fled reaches out to friends

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CBOT Chairman Patrick Arbor overlooks the crowded trading floor in 1994. File Photo.

Originally published October 9, 2013

At 3:32 a.m. Saturday in Chicago, or late morning in Italy, former Chicago Board of Trade Chairman Patrick Arbor sent an email to about 50 of his friends under the heading: “The Evil One went to the press, Saturday’s Sun-Times.”

Arbor’s message was succinct.

“Open message and then let’s discuss,” he wrote, attaching a link to my Sunday column with its account of Arbor having run off to Europe, taking his millions with him, in an effort to keep his wife (presumably “The Evil One”) from getting the money through their divorce.

One of those receiving the email was veteran Cook County Domestic Relations Court Judge Michele Lowrance, who said Arbor has been a friend for 30 years.


Lowrance happens to be the author of “The Good Karma Divorce: Avoid Litigation, Turn Negative Emotions into Positive Actions and Get On with Rest of Your Life.”

I told her I didn’t think Arbor had read her book.

“None of my friends have read my book,” Lowrance laughed.

The judge acknowledged receiving the email but said she hadn’t read the story and didn’t feel comfortable talking about Arbor’s situation with me.

I said I thought it put her in an awkward position as a judge to be contacted by a litigant facing a bench warrant from another judge within the same division.

“I would be the last person who would touch this with a 90-foot pole,” said Lowrance. I do not mean to suggest otherwise by mentioning it here, only to let you know the reach of Arbor’s friendships.

The email circulation list included Loyola University President Michael Garanzini and his special assistant, John Costello; multimillionaire securities trader Blair Hull, better known for his failed U.S. Senate bid against Barack Obama; Chicago real estate titan Eugene Golub; Sam Cecola, owner of the Admiral Theater strip club; Arbor business partner Henry Shatkin; and numerous other old business friends, relatives and lawyers, any one of whom could have advised him to not send out a mass email like that if he didn’t want it falling into the wrong hands.

My main purpose in contacting those who received the email was to learn what I could about their interaction with Arbor: What he was doing, how he was doing and maybe even get an answer to that nagging question of where exactly is he?

“He is in Italy, somewhere in the north,” said Michael O’Connell, Arbor’s former public relations spokesman and right-hand man at the Board of Trade.

O’Connell did not have that information when I first called Tuesday. He and Arbor had been missing connections since he received the email. The time difference will do that.

But he called me back later after making contact with Arbor. He didn’t offer much else but said Arbor reminded him of the time he bought his now ex-wife, Antoinette Vigilante, a $7,000 pearl ring on a trip to Hong Kong. Make of that what you will.

Also receiving the email was retired Cook County Judge Richard Neville, who now works as a mediator and had just started a trip to Europe when I woke him from his jet-lagged sleep.

“I’m in Croatia with my wife. As far as I know, he’s not here,” said Neville, who said he has known Arbor most of his life.

“It’s an unfortunate series of events, it looks like,” said Neville, who said he was unaware of the matter until Arbor sent him the story.

Before I go any further, I should probably thank Arbor. If I could get each of you dear readers to send out my column every morning to 50 of your friends, that would go a long way toward securing my continued employment.

On the other hand, I do want to correct Arbor in his understanding of the situation, as long as we’re safe in assuming that by “The Evil One” he was referring to Vigilante.

Vigilante did not go to the press, certainly not to me despite my best efforts, although I haven’t given up hope, just as I continue to hope Arbor will be willing to discuss his version of events with me at some point.

To be clear, this is not exactly a case for Interpol or Dog the Bounty Hunter. Arbor is only accused of a civil contempt of court violation. There are no criminal charges pending against him, although he would be subject to arrest in Cook County on the bench warrant.

He didn’t want his ex-wife to get the money, and as of now, he’s pulled it off.

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