Thursday, July 19, 2007
Doc Savage and his Fortune
It is very clear from the Super Sagas that Clark Savage Senior had spent virtually everything he had in completing his son's education, building the Fortress of Solitude, funding the Empire State Building project, and establishing the Crime College on his upstate New York Estate. But Clark Senior had been a multi-millionaire who made deals over the phone dealing with tens of millions of dollars. What might be considered being cash-poor in his case would still be filthy rich to most of us. And we must remember that the 1929 Stock-Market crash and the Depression occurred around the time of The Man of Bronze. During those days even rich men were "cash poor" with much of their personal wealth tied up in frozen assets. In fact, in the Millennium comic series "The Devil's Thoughts" we discovered that -- in a twist of irony -- Clark Senior had to borrow $250,000 from the Mob in 1930 to finish the work on the Crime College. it was not poverty that led him to do this but a lack of liquid assets.
Clark Senior had liquidated many of his assets to fund all those projects, but he had also established trust funds to keep them going as well. At the time of his death, he was still worth hundreds of millions of dollars on paper. Cash flow was the issue. Doc himself had several patents from which he was drawing revenue and he had an investment portfolio which his father had started for him when he was a child. He had also received annuities from his father on his 21st birthday, and was supposed to receive more on his 30th birthday. It was then that Clark Senior was planning to reveal the gold supply from the Valley of the Vanished.
But merely having a supply of gold would never have been enough. You need to have a means of converting that gold to cash to make it useful. And compounding the problem, on April 5, 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt outlawed the ownership of gold by individual citizens and he confiscated any bullion or coinage that was in private hands.
From my confidential sources, I have learned that the deal which Clark Senior had made with the Government of Hidalgo and King Chaac from the Mayan city had been put into effect in 1917 just before he had left for Maple White Land and that gold had been flowing out of the mountains of Hidalgo from an alleged new mine since then. Between 1917 and 1930 over $250 million dollars in gold had been taken out of the Valley of the Vanished and processed by a syndicate in Hidalgo for investment both overseas and in America. The syndicate had included Clark Senior, Hubert Robertson, Hidalgo's President Martinez (who died in 1924) and several of the men who had been sponsoring Clark Junior's education. It was the list of these men that Kulkulkan had targeted for assassination in 1931.
At first, Clark Senior had managed the investments of the syndicate, but after his injuries in Maple White Land, his private attorney Sam Cantor took over. He began investing large amounts of money overseas as well as making key investments at home in the USA. At the time of "The Man of Bronze" (March 1931) Sam was overseas putting the finishing touches on the plan to transfer control of the Hidalgo syndicate to Clark Junior that November. Sam had heard of the deaths of the Syndicate members and stayed out of the country traveling under an assumed name. When his sources informed him that Clark junior had taken control of the situation and that there was no pending threat, Sam returned to New York and briefed Clark Junior on the final plan. Since the syndicate members were mostly dead at that point, it was decided to move the timetable up for the disbursement of the funds.
With an initial outlay of $10,000 in cash, Sam Cantor began a cascade of ownership transfers all over the world and the USA which within 30 days provided $10 million dollars in cash to the accounts of the Hidalgo Trading Company. At that time, Doc Savage was the sole proprietor of the company having inherited it from his father. Similar outlays of cash flowed through the Hidalgo Trading Company every quarter for the first year and then they started to go up in value after that. At the time that Doc took possession of the world wide portfolio, it was worth over $750 million. The value of the portfolio increased yearly and Doc was a multi-billionaire before the start of World War II.
It should be noted that while Doc was in The Valley of the Vanished, he had arranged with King Chaac that upon receiving a radio signal, a mule train with $5 million dollars (~5 tons) of gold ingots would be sent to Blanco Grande for conversion to cash. This was a separate from the syndicate shipments, though the same rule for dividing the value between the Mayans and the Hidalgo government still applied. Later on, Pat Savage would pick up some of these shipments of gold and transfer it to institutions overseas for disbursement. The gold was "laundered " through banks in the Caribbean and Cuba among other places. It became Doc's "mad money" for those special projects that were not budgeted through normal channels.
Doc also began selling Mayan antiquities from the treasure trove under the Pyramid to selected buyers and museums. Some of the antiquities attributed to the unknown Mayan "Site Q" which have been showing up on the antiquities markets for the last 5 decades have actually been from The Valley of the Vanished.
One of the things Doc arranged when he took over the reins of the Hidalgo Syndicate was to upgrade it into a world class international bank. By 1940, Hidalgo had some of the most favorable banking laws in the world for investors. In fact it became the "Switzerland" of the Americas and remains such to this day. At this point, Doc virtually owns the entire county.
In the late 1930s, the Germans became quite interested in South American affairs and their spies were everywhere. It became dangerous to continue the processing of gold from Hidalgo and so the mines were "shut down" in 1938 and Doc rarely requested "mad money" shipments from King Chaac until 1942. After the US entered World War II, Doc stopped the entire gold operation for security reasons. It was never reopened.
During World War II, Doc and Long Tom became heavily involved in defense contracting. All that work on a radio-wave insecticide device which they had been doing for the previous decade generated several key patents essential for advanced electronic devices and radar. Long Tom went into partnership with Dr. Brownlee an inventor who had provided specialty devices for many of the heroes headquartered in New York including The Spider, The Shadow, Doc Savage, and Jim Anthony, among others. They eventually incorporated their own specialty defense company (underwritten by Doc) using the grounds in upstate New York where Brownlee's original facility was based. They all made a fortune from this.
Further investment in post-war American industry and a continued flow of high tech patents increased Doc's fortune. His world wide connections opened markets to him that were untappable otherwise and he began to broker business deals in the far east. Doc used Hidalgo as the main repository for his wealth and he kept the populace happy and unlikely to be duped by Communist agitation.
By 1949, Doc's worldwide income was so great that he actually began shipping gold BACK to The Valley of Vanished for safe keeping. Over the next 26 years, Doc returned an average of $20 million dollars in gold every year. He more than replaced all the gold ingots that had been removed. The aging King Chaac thought that Doc was out of his mind. But Doc assured him that the Mayan's trust fund was even larger than what was being put back.
On August 15, 1971, President Nixon closed the "Gold Window". The last link between Gold and the Dollar was gone. The result was inevitable. In February 1973, the world's currencies "floated". By the end of 1974, Gold had soared from $35 to $195 an ounce. Then on January 1, 1975, after 42 years, it again became "legal" for individual Americans to own gold, and the price began to fluctuate. But by the end of the decade gold was worth $850 dollars an ounce. This meant that the gold returned to Hidalgo had increased in value to over 24 times what it had been worth when it had been repatriated. This was a staggering coup and it vindicated Doc's plan.
Today, Doc's economic empire is widely distributed across the globe and it is estimated to be worth over 2 trillion dollars! Still, every few months, a new patent is filed by the Hidalgo Trading Company for some esoteric mechanical, electrical, or chemical process. The patent usually is of little interest at first, but within a few years whatever was patented turns out to be the key part of a new and revolutionary product or technology, and the Hidalgo Trading Company draws royalties from it. There are several such patents still active that have not yet been found useful. And more HTC patents are filed every year.