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Fayez Sarofim, the son of a prosperous Egyptian landowner, dressed in suits tailored in London and spoke in a baronial, perfectly modulated voice. To the monied old guard of the city, he was an exotic, almost mysterious figure, taciturn, restrained, and formidably intelligent—a financial genius with an uncanny ability to pick stocks that were about to soar. When he opened his downtown money-managaement firm, at the mere age of thirty, some of the most prominent men in Houston began pulling their money out of banks and brokerages and giving it to him to invest. He made millions for his clients and in the process made even more millions for himself—first tens of millions, then hundreds of millions.

Their marriage was a reenactment of the kind of turn-of-the-century romance that Henry James wrote about, a match between an old-world prince and an American debutante. They had two children. They donated milions to museums and charities, and they collected magnificent art for themselves. The Sarofims seemed to lead lives the rich are supposed to lead—very proper, very private, very cultured. Let me finish this. River Oaks marriages have always made great copy. Here, one man successfully sued his wife for custody of their Doberman pinscher named Satan. Here, socialite Carolyn Farb made the unprecendented—and successful—pre-Ivana Trump maneuver in the early eighties to challenge the prenuptual contract she had ed with her husband, real estate developer and part-time night club singer Harold Farb.

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River Oaks was the home of oilman J. Collier Hurley and his four ex-wives, one of whom fell to her death from a high-rise apartment, leading a grad jury to wonder if Hurley might have helepd her fall. He was no-billed. And then there was the marriage between the handsome Dr. John Hill and oil heiress Joan Robinson Hill.

Today River Oaks is a quieter place. Oscar and Lynn Wyatt, the oilman and couture queen whose marriage has always been the subject of River Oaks gossip, have moved off the Boulevard, as has Carolyn Farb. In all fairness, no one ever expected the elegant Fayed Sarofim to develop such a flair either. But what heppened to Sarofim, who turns 72 next month, and his family turned into drama so sordid, so comic, and then so shockingly tragic that it seemed impossible to believe that it could really be happening.

By the spring of this year, it was hard to imagine how the soap opera Houston adult chat 76137 house wifes get any more sensational. It would be like me jumping through my sixth-floor office window without a parachute. I know in my brain that something was afoul.

He spends most of his days at his office on the twenty-ninth floor of Two Houston Center, dressed as always in a tailored three-piece suit, silently smoking a cigar, his owlish face contemplative, as if he might never speak again but gradually turn into a monument.

He knows their balance sheets down to the decimal point. According to Forbes magazine, Sarofim is the richest man in Houston. Yet what most fascinates Houstonians about such a man is not so much his money as why he would ever be drawn to Linda Hicks.

They cannot understand what she did to captivate the great sphinx and take him away from his striking, dignified first wife. Here was a woman who had gained access to more wealth than she could ever have dreamed about, who became the chalataine of one of the greatest estates on River Oaks Boulevard—and who in the process perhaps destroyed herself. One of his first Houston friends was Meredith Long, who would marry a Houston heiress Cornelia Cullen and open a prominent art gallery.

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And those who did lost their chance to make a lot of money. According to information that Louisa once provided to Houston author Marguerite Johnston, she and her little brother were put in orphanges as small children when her own mother became too ill to care for them and her father decided he could not handle them on his own. Before long, Louisa and her brother, Mike who now runs a Houston radio stationfound themselves living on Inwood Drive in River Oaks. She became an Allegro debutante inwent to Smith College in Massachusetts to study literature, and returned to Houston, where she immediately became an arts patron.

When she sat in for Robert Joy, an artist who painted Houston dignitaries, she wore a beige, laquered sheath, her honey-blond hair swept back, her arms folded, her expression reserved, slightly distant, with just a hint of a smile on her lips. She did not wear a single piece of jewelry. It was the classic portrait of a young woman of privelege. Perhaps the refined Louisa was drawn to Fayez because he was so un-Texan—no boots, no oily knuckles, no Holstein-cowhide chairs in his office.

They came to drink, play cards, and cut deals. Herman Brown was so impressed with young Sarofim that he trusted him to invest the entire Brown and Root pension fund and later the money of the Brown Foundation. When he got his chance, Sarofim performed. Except for a few brief periods in the early seventies and the early eighties, the investments of Fayez Sarofim and Company outperformed the Dow Jones industial average every year. He did make mistales: he stayed too long in energy stocks, and he missed the beginning of the technology boom.

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Sarofim was unusual a business titan as Houston had ever seen. The hushed offices of Fayez Sarofim and Company looked more like a private museum than an investment firm. He had hired a full-time art curator, Mimi Kilgore, to care for the art at his company. Sarofim was such a formal man that he kept on his coat and tie even when he came home.

His son Christopher has often told a story at dinner parties about the time the two of them went on a hunting trip years ago with some other River Oaks fathers and sons. True to form, the elder Sarofim wore a camouflage suit with camouflage tie, and he drove to the hunting lease in a Mercedes while the other fathers drove Suburbans or pickups.

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Besides Christopher, who looks very much like his father, Sarofim and Louisa had one other child, Allison, a stunning brunette who now co-owns Vandam, a trendy Manhattan restaurant. If Fayez or Louisa were unhappy in their marriage, they kept it to themselves. Fayez spent much of his time focused on his company. Well, at least it did until about She was an army brat, daughter of a career officer who lived everywhere from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She certianly had ambition, graduating from high school at the age of sixteen, marrying at seventeen, and then enrolling at the University of Alabama, double majoring in political science and English.

After graduating from college, she moved to Mississippi, where her husband was stationed in the Air Force. But she stayed there only a short time before deciding she was tired of him. After nine years of marriage, Linda was clearly ready to live it up. Although she was not someone whom a stranger would be inclined to describe as beautiful, she was feisty, the kind of young woman who knew how to hold a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. She also seemed to have two primary emotions: hot and bothered.

It was hard to imagine that the boss would find Linda appealing. According to one story told by Sarofim insiders, he got to know Linda when he put up a notice in the office that he was looking for a baby-sitter. InLinda said later in a legal deposition, she and Fayez began meeting at a downtown hotel to have sex. She talked to him like he was a real man. You know the story. There was no doubt Linda had felt a need to bolster her pedigree. Houston adult chat 76137 house wifes she came to Houston, she told people that she had a graduate degree in English from a Mississippi university.

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A registrar from that university said Linda had been enrolled there for only a couple of months. Obviously, she saw her relationship with Fayez as something akin to a job promotion. Those who knew Fayez chortle at the idea that he saw Linda as a professional asset. They assumed his affair with her was only a temporary, meaningless dalliance.

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In fact, bythe relationship seemed to have fallen apart. Had Linda forgiven him for whatever he had done to her? Or, as many people thought, had he forgiven Linda for perhaps making up the assault story? It was no secret that Linda could be unpredictable, especially when she drank. Yet, for some reason, Fayez remained enchanted by her unpredictability.

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She stopped working at Fayez Sarofim and Company and moved into a house he bought her just outside River Oaks. She became a regular at Neiman Marcus, and at one Galanos trunk show, she bought almost every dress offered for sale. By she was pregnant again, and this time she had the child—a son named Andrew. It is unknown whether the threat was ever made—or if any money exchanged hands—but Fayez was able to keep news of his second family quiet, a remarkable feat in the gossipy world of upper-crust Houston.

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All that changed when Linda had a second son with Fayez, Phillip, in In fact, birth announcements for a Phillip Sarofim were sent anonymously to parents of students at St. River Oaks being what it is, some speculated that Linda had spread the glad tidings. Years later, when asked about the event by lawyers, she denied that she had anything to do with the announcement and said Louisa was the culprit.

Yet it is hard to find anyone who believes the very discreet Louisa would do anything to cause embarrassment to her own children. In fact, Louisa has told many of her friends that she too recieved a birth announcement, which is what finally made her suspicious that Fayez was having an affair.

But for reasons of her own, Louisa stayed in the marriage. The affair continued between Fayez and Linda, and it got stranger and stranger.

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Linda later admitted in a deposition that the boy was not sired by Fayez but by another Houston man with whom she had been having an affair. By then, the gossip about Fayez and Linda was raging throughout Houston. Louisa finally decided she had to act. One reliable source connected to the family says Louisa told Fayez she would stay in the marriage if he Houston adult chat 76137 house wifes move Linda and her boys off Texas soil.

He did not. It was hard to believe, but Sarofim seemed to be in love. He had represented Cullen Davis of Fort Worth, then one of the richest men in Texas, when Davis was divorcing the very wife whom he had been accused of trying to murder. Their surprise marriage in September was the Houston equivalent of the Duke of Windsor marrying the cigarette-wielding commoner, Wallis Simpson.

Fayez threw a coming-out party for Linda, inviting more than of his friends. An orchestra played Frank Sinatra tunes while platoons of waiters poured expensive wine. According to various friends, Fayez married Linda to make the three boys legitimate. In fact, within a year of the wedding, word spread that Linda had already called the two great pit bulls of the Houston divorce profession, partners Robert Piro and Earle Lilly.

She had told the lawyers she was furious that Sarofim had had her admitted into a detox facility. The two lawyers quickly filed a divorce petition, but then, in typical fashion, Linda and Fayez reconciled and the petition was withdrawn. It happened so quickly that Houston reporters covering the courthouse never learned about it. Meanwhile, Linda drank—and drank. Some people who got to know Linda assumed she drank at parties because it helped her feel more comfortable around socialites who knew Louisa and who perhaps thought Linda was of lesser caliber.

Her drunken shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus became the stuff of myth.

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