He lost control of his Hollinger companies and all his prized newspaper holdings. He lost what was left of the Argus group he essentially inherited. He lost his criminal case, which was brought by the United States Department of Justice, and his appeal of the conviction taken to the 7th U.S. Circuit. He then lost in his appeal of that failed appeal. He lost recent skirmishes with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He lost his freedom and the benefits of being a Canadian citizen, the latter misplaced because of an obsession with becoming a titled gentleman in the tradition of Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Thompson. Instead of emulating their success, he followed the example of another British baron, Lord Kylsant of Carmarthen, who was likewise forced to trade the splendor of mansions and boardrooms for the confinement of a small prison cell after being convicted of a high profile corporate fraud. Mr. Black lost his Roles Royce Silver Cloud, owned, operated and paid for by a private company called Ravelston Corp. Ltd., the control of which Mr. Black also lost. It served for many years as a convenient machine for milking the cash out of shareholder owned entities like Hollinger. And like Mr. Black several fellow Ravelston directors, this company, too, was found guilty of fraud in U.S. federal court last year. Today, it teeters on bankruptcy. He even lost one of the few venues in the United States still willing to publish his home-prison-office manufactured op-ed articles when the tiny New York Sun closed its doors last month. Mr. Black was an investor in the newspaper, which was resurrected in 2001. And despite his regular Canadian published odes of admiration for the Bush Administration and the Republican Party (he predicted John McCain would win the Presidency, showing that his political predictions, like his predictions about his own personal legal victory, can be shoved into the “lost” column.) He also lost in a bid to be included in Mr. Bush’s recent list of Presidential pardons and commutations. Of all these considerable losses, humility, and a sense of proportion, do not appear to be included in the inventory. As any basic insurance contract will instruct, previous possession is always a pre-condition to the establishment of a loss.
But the cruelest indignity of all must surely have been to lose out in the traditional Thanksgiving pardon, held in a moving ceremony on the White House grounds last Wednesday. A 45-pound turkey named Pumpkin received a “full and unconditional Presidential pardon.” A jailbird known as Prisoner Number 18330-424, who was once regularly addressed as Lord Black of Crossharbour by presidents, princes and prime ministers, did not.