Belle Haven, Connecticut. For a man who not too long ago was known as the (ahem) 'Baron' of Ballsbridge, there was nothing Baron-like about Sean Dunne's skulking off to the U.S. recently to 'pursue business interests.' The Irish Independent reported that he had done a runner leaving his Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, residence behind along with his substantial debts on properties that are worth a fraction of the amount he borrowed, and gambled, on their purchase.
The news was ignored by other Irish daily's, the Irish Times and the Examiner. Perhaps Dunne wasn't the high-brow he thought he was or maybe those papers benefited from his largess when he was still solvent which, by his own admission, may have been quite some time ago.
Indeed the Independent's article made it sound like he had gone on a holiday so gracious was their prose. Dunne has done (no pun intended) what many other broke Celtic Tiger era Irish 'entrepreneurs' have done when their house of cards empires collapsed. They need not worry, Ireland historically doesn't prosecute white collar misdeeds and their chances of their spending any time in the Big House are practically nil.
Of course there is reputation to consider. These former high-fliers, who rubbed shoulders with old Irish money, are now persona non grata at social events and have been struck forever off the Christmas card list. And with good reason. The instinctive nose-twitch warning among Ireland's elite that these upstarts were up to no good when they arrived on the scene turned out to be right.
Dunne's reputation has already reached the muted shores of his club on Long Island sound. Thanks to the Independent's article, the local newspapers and the Belle Haven Club have received notice of Dunne's slipping in amongst them, his wife and children in tow.
The 'billionaires row' of Belle Haven, where the Irish Independent reports 'the former heads of IBM, Tom Watson and Louis Gerstner, the former CEO of Xerox, Peter McCollough and the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, John Weinberg, also live,' will not take too kindly to the attention Dunne may bring to their exclusive enclave.
This is the same Dunne they read about in January of 2009 in the New York Times*. Dunne, instead of using a unique once-in-a-lifetime interview to bolster his image and that of corporate Ireland, came across as a self-pitying drunk who had gambled and lost, albeit with other peoples money. Money the Irish tax-payer now has to shell out to cover.
As banks and government investigate his dealings attention will be brought to the Belle Haven community, which the inhabitants enjoy because of the lack of attention, as the spotlight follows Dunne and settles on those he mingles with. He would be well to remember that his new neighbors are successful business people, not pinhead speculators who ran when the going got tough.
Dunne ducks out of D4 and heads west (Irish Independent) November 6, 2010
The Irish Economy's Rise Was Steep, and the Fall Was Fast (New York Times) January 3, 2009