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Valentine’s Day end to divorce drama: Pat Arbor ‘delighted to be out’ of jail

Patrick Arbor leaves Cook County Jail Thursday. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

Patrick Arbor leaves Cook County Jail Thursday. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

Call it the Valentine’s Day Peace Treaty.

Former Chicago Board of Trade Chairman Patrick Arbor was released Thursday morning from Cook County Jail after reaching a financial settlement with his ex-wife that ended their epic divorce battle.

The 82-year-old Arbor had spent the past nine months in jail on a civil contempt of court charge stemming from his decision to flee to Europe in 2012 rather than comply with court orders requiring him to make payments to ex-wife Antoinette Vigilante.

On Thursday morning, Circuit Judge Myron Mackoff signed an agreed order ending the litigation between Arbor and his ex-wife and lifting the “body attachment” warrant under which Arbor was held.

Terms of the settlement were not made public.

A few hours later, a gaunt but invigorated Arbor was released from custody, although he then had to wait another hour for someone to arrive to give him a ride home. When they came, they brought their own videographer to record the event.

“Get in the car, Pat,” they prodded Arbor as he stopped outside the jail to talk with a reporter. “Get in the car.”

“I’m delighted to be out,” Arbor said as he loaded four boxes of belongings from his cell — mostly books — inside the waiting car.

Patrick Arbor leaves Cook County Jail Thursday. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

Patrick Arbor leaves Cook County Jail Thursday. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

“You see all these books. I’ve donated three times this many books to the jail library,” said Arbor, who was held in isolation at the jail as a safety precaution and spent most of his time reading.

Arbor had prepared a written statement for the occasion, thanking his friends and supporters.

“Your advocacy kept my spirits high and my hope alive during this difficult time,” he wrote.

Asked if he was satisfied with the settlement, Arbor said,  “Of course,” but declined further comment.

In an exclusive interview, jailed former Chicago Board of Trade chairman Patrick Arbor talks about his confinement and why he fled the country in 2012 to avoid a big divorce payout to his ex-wife Antoinette Vigilante.

In December jailhouse interview, former Chicago Board of Trade chairman Patrick Arbor talks about his confinement and why he fled the country in 2012 to avoid a big divorce payout to his ex-wife Antoinette Vigilante. File Photo. | Annie Costabile / Sun-Times

Earlier outside the Daley Center, Vigilante was even more upbeat.

“I’m not happy, I’m ecstatic,” she said.

Like Arbor, she declined to say who in the end won their battle of wills.

“There are no winners in this case,” Vigilante said.

As to the coincidence of Arbor’s release coming on Valentine’s Day, Vigilante’s lawyer Stan Sneeringer said it was exactly that — entirely coincidental.

The long-running effort to reach a settlement was supposed to be wrapped up Wednesday, but ran into a last-minute glitch, lawyers said.

Vigilante, who wore a bright red blouse to court, did offer an opinion on whether it was ironic to settle the case on Valentine’s Day: “I think it’s both fitting and ironic.”

Antoinette Vigilante, ex-wife of Patrick Arbor, with her lawyer, Stan Sneeringer, outside the Daley Center after a judge approved the settlement on Thursday. Photo by Mark Brown.

Antoinette Vigilante, ex-wife of Patrick Arbor, with her lawyer, Stan Sneeringer,
outside the Daley Center after a judge approved the settlement on Thursday. Photo by Mark Brown.

Arbor was arrested in Boston in May while attempting to board a flight to Rome, then extradited to Chicago. Arbor had returned to the U.S. to attend his grandson’s college graduation.

Vigilante previously obtained an $18 million divorce judgment against Arbor, but she told the Sun-Times late last year that she was prepared to settle for “far less.”

Arbor, once a major player in Chicago business and politics, moved most of his assets offshore and took up residence in Lugano, Switzerland, to avoid paying his wife.

After his arrest, Arbor contended in court that he couldn’t pay Vigilante because he had lost most of his money in the collapse of a Portuguese bank and because his remaining funds were tied up in a Liechtenstein trust that he could not access while in custody.

Former Chicago Board of Trade chairman Patrick Arbor and then-wife Antoinette Vigilante in happier times, dancing together at the Joffrey Ballet's 2010 spring gala. | Supplied photo

Former Chicago Board of Trade chairman Patrick Arbor and then-wife Antoinette Vigilante in happier times, dancing together at the Joffrey Ballet’s 2010 spring gala. | Supplied photo

In court Thursday, Mackoff said he was “taking the parties’ word that the terms of their settlement are not unconscionable,” a reference to the legal standard by which he was required to judge the agreement.

Given the hard-fought nature of the case, he said he was sure that it wasn’t.

Mackoff also thanked the lawyers — Sneeringer and Larry Byrne for Vigilante, Howard Rosenfeld and Shaska Dice for Arbor.

“It’s a very difficult case, and I’m glad to see it resolved,” the judge said.

In his written statement, Arbor thanked his jailers for their professionalism.

“Finally, I’d like to say that I am very glad to have my life back and look forward to continuing my focus on my friends and family, and committing my time to Mercy Home and other worthy endeavors,” Arbor added.

 

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