Special Report: The final days and deals of Aubrey McClendon
By John Shiffman, Brian Grow and Michael Flaherty
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The night before Aubrey McClendon died, the oil-and-gas pioneer was expected at a private dinner here with potential business partners. Among them: Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico.
Around sunset, the group gathered in a wood-paneled dining room at the exclusive Beacon Club. A waiter brought plates of sea bass and lamb. Three bottles from McClendon’s wine collection were opened, including a 2010 Napa Valley red bearing the logo of his business, American Energy Partners.
But McClendon, who reveled in his reputation as the life of the party, never showed, said four people who were there.
The group soon learned why. U.S. prosecutors had just announced McClendon’s indictment for allegedly conspiring with a competitor to suppress land prices by rigging bids while leading his former company, Chesapeake Energy. People at the dinner said McClendon sent an emissary and his regrets. Fox and others signed the empty wine bottles, intending to present them to McClendon the next day.
They never had the chance.
McClendon died the following morning, March 2, when his car crashed at high speed into an overpass wall along a two-lane road here. The accident remains under investigation
The sudden end to his lavish and leveraged life (reut.rs/1QUfnHp) came as McClendon, 56, confronted challenges more consequential than any he had faced before. He’d been forced to part with oil and gas-well interests, one of his best sources of cash. His biggest investor was abandoning him. He had just agreed to settle a legal claim that chipped at his reputation. And now, with the indictment, a protracted legal battle for his personal freedom loomed.
A Reuters review of records and interviews show: Continued...