During what is usually the most boring time of an NFL offseason, Saints fans had interesting water cooler talk this week when news came out that Drew Brees was suing his former friend and jeweler, Vahid Moradi, who runs CJ Charles Jewelers in San Diego, CA.
The two met during Brees’ stint as the San Diego Chargers quarterback and formed a business relationship as Brees sought to diversify his investment portfolio with jewelry.
It began when Brees expressed a desire to purchase watches he could wear that would appreciate over time. First of all, no watch dealer would advise someone to wear an expensive watch they want to appreciate in value.
If it’s worn, the watch may have scratches or visible repairs needed. Even missing the original box it came in can greatly lower it’s value.
It’s seemingly smart for Brees to want to diversify his investments, but the way he went about it wasn’t smart at all. He had been buying pieces from Moradi since 2003, and the oldest piece in question from the lawsuit was purchased in 2012.
Why did Brees wait until 2017 to have these pieces independently appraised? He should have appraised them directly after each purchase for insurance purposes, and in doing so, would have found out years earlier that their values had been monstrously overinflated by Moradi.
Don’t get me wrong, Moradi sounds completely unethical and is no doubt giving honest and fine jewelers a bad reputation. No jeweler can promise a piece will appreciate in value. The market can always fluctuate, and even if Moradi was probably blowing smoke up Brees’ ass about their potential appreciation, one should think an entrepreneur like Brees would have a stronger understanding of risks related to this type of investment.
It’s reported Moradi used reflective and colored settings to deepen the color of the gems in rings Brees purchased. Deeper colored stones are more valuable. Infamous Hollywood makeup artist, Max Factor, applied makeup to actresses with different hair colors in different colored rooms so they would look better.
Unfortunately this technique is counter to the Gemological Institute of America’s rules of appraisal. According to the GIA, the strictest of grading organizations, gems must be shown and appraised in a neutral white space. It is quite common, however, for jewelers to use painted settings that enhance the gems’ natural colors.
Still, Brees had access to public information that could have helped him corroborate the prices Moradi was charging him. The Rapaport Diamond Report is kind of like a Kelley Blue Book for diamonds. You can look up prices for diamonds according to their exact shape, color, clarity, and quality of cut.
Or Brees could have asked for a diamond certificate which states all information on the diamond in question. Or he could have asked for second opinions from other major wholesale and retail diamond dealers.
Or he could have checked auction results for comparable stones over the past few years. Either way, he should have had these appraised separately for insurance coverage, especially in a city that’s particularly prone to flooding.
The most expensive ring was purchased for $8 million, but was appraised at $3.75 million, though the appraiser stated it was probably worth $2 million when purchased. The piece did in fact appreciate, and Brees could have made $1.75 million on it, if he had actually paid a fair price for it.
The more I dug into Brees’s past investment endeavors, however, I found this is only part of a larger pattern of unsavory and borderline diabolical business practices.
Back in 2011, both Drew and Brittany Brees threw their weight behind the wealthy, elitist, and politically connected (Erin Romney is a distant cousin of super wealthy former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney) shirking of typical development variances with the hideously out of scale Romney Pilates studio on Magazine Street.
Big supporters of Romney Pilates new studio construction on Magazine St. Wifey & I cant wait to go! 1 of the great small businesses in Nola— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) December 29, 2010
Brittany stated at the City Council meeting regarding the variances that it didn’t matter the building wasn’t including the necessary parking spaces for a new development because she would be riding her bike there. She even claimed that because Saints players worked out there, “we’ll have a winning season if you pass this variance.”
Um sorry, but the Saints aren’t going to win another Super Bowl because you want to take away valuable parking spaces on Magazine Street and build a giant three story monstrosity three feet from the curb when it’s supposed to be 20 feet set back from the curb.
Then in 2016, Brees was one of the main investors behind the equally wealthy, elitist, and politically connected Carrollton Boosters group that tried to commandeer publicly owned land at The Fly for a private $4 million soccer stadium. Contrary to popular belief, the Audubon Institute does not own The Fly; it leases it from the Levee Board.
So, in short, Carrollton Boosters has already appropriated public land for private use with their softball fields. But they wanted more. There are already plenty of soccer fields at The Fly, and I personally found the location of the proposed stadium as borderline racially charged because anyone who has spent as many hours as me at The Fly (I went to college at Loyola New Orleans) knows the part the Boosters were trying to develop is often occupied by families of color.
Brees sure likes to support things that benefit his family to the detriment of others. But perhaps his most unsavory investment is his vapid endorsement of AdvoCare, a multilevel marketing company that sells energy drinks, shakes, and supplements directly to consumers. For a deeper look into this incredibly obvious pyramid scheme that most often preys on the financially struggling and super religious, read Mina Kimes’ excellent ESPN report.
In short, Brees is the face of what he calls a direct-sales business model that, like a Ponzi scheme, seemingly relies on sucking funds from new distributors to funnel profits up to the few at the top of the company, Brees included. The company sells typically “down and out” people the dream of making alternative incomes by selling their products and recruiting more distributors to join them in doing so.
Yet, in 2014, only 0.54% of the 517,666 AdvoCare salespeople made $10,000 while 0.06% exceeded $100,000. Despite clear statistics stating the contrary, Brees vehemently defends the company, “In fact,” he’s said, “I take it as a great honor and responsibility to uphold the values of the company.”
“I have literally NEVER had a single person come up to me and say anything negative about AdvoCare products or the business model. I see the lives that it changes, not only as a direct result of taking the products but the financial independence it gives many of its distributors.”
Who cares if people are literally going broke often being forced by their fellow church goers to sell products with no scientifically empirical evidence to support their efficacy?
Who cares if entire socioeconomic groups are excluded from a fabulous private soccer stadium with pretty letters on it that read Benson and Brees Soccer Complex?
Who cares if rich and powerful people who can afford $25 Pilates classes bully their way through City Council meetings to increase their profits and completely ignore the wishes of the neighbors who have been living and operating businesses there long before them?
Who cares if Brees is trying to make Americans more obese by purchasing 69 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises? He can sell you the supplements, shakes, and energy drinks to help you lose the weight!
Who cares if Walk On’s was voted North America’s best sports bar by ESPN Mobile in 2012? It’s lame, touristy, and the food is disgusting. Same for Happy’s Irish Pub. And Jimmy John’s is nastier than Subway, which I will only torture my tastebuds with on a long road trip with no access to In-N-Out.
Good thing Brees also invests in TRX fitness straps. I use mine daily. They are a great product that gives inexpensive access to health and wellness for all populations. Too bad it’s the only investment Brees has made that doesn’t completely disgust me.
I love the way he plays football and appears to function as a great leader of men in the locker room, but, damn, I hate the majority of his business philosophies.