Texas History Littered by `Frittered-Away' Fortunes

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - The Hunt family's financial slide, though spectacular, is by no means unique in the history of American business .

Indeed, right now the state of Texas is littered with families who have seen their fortunes frittered away by capricious spending, greed or bad luck.

Aside from the Hunts, most prominent among these fallen angels are the Murchisons, whose patriarch, Clint Murchison, amassed a vast fortune in oil and real estate.

Earlier this year, Murchison's son, Clint Murchison Jr., ended a yearlong battle with creditors and filed for bankruptcy protection. Murchison, whose far-flung empire was once worth at least $350 million, now has a net worth of no more than $3 million.

The steep slide in oil prices has also played havoc with the fortunes of two oilmen, John W. Mecom Jr. of Houston, who owns the New Orleans Saints football team, and Eddie Chiles of Fort Worth,who recently sold a majority stake in the Texas Rangers baseball team to Edward L. Gaylord of Oklahoma City, president and publisher of The Daily Oklahoman.

""Everybody's in a pinch in Texas,'' said John Train, a private investment counselor and author of ""Famous Financial Fiascos,'' which chronicles 20 of history's most famous financial debacles.

""The problem there is that the state has traditionally been regarded as having a three-legged economy: oil, agriculture and real estate. …