Three wealthy bankers from Connecticut, who came forward to claim a $254 million record Powerball jackpot are facing claims that they were not in fact the real winners.
An anonymous man – one of the bankers clients – is said to have actually purchased the ticket but came to Tim Davidson, Brandon Lacoff and Greg Skidmore to avoid the “hassle” of his name becoming public.
They then allegedly set up a trust “as a front” so that Tim Davidson, Brandon Lacoff and Greg Skidmore could be the public face of the win.
In a further twist, it was also claimed that rather than donate a large proportion of the money to charity, the winner has requested that the majority just be invested for his personal gain.
The explosive claims blow apart the fairytale story that Tim Davidson bought the ticket at a gas station in Greenwich Connecticut for $1.
It would also explain the bankers’ sheepish performance at a press conference to collect their “jackpot”, during which they refused to discuss their relationship with each other.
It had been suggested that Tim Davidson bought his ticket on November 1 and the following day they realized their numbers had come up, beating odds of 195,249,054 to one.
The jackpot was the largest ever won in Connecticut and the 12th biggest in Powerball history.
It means the three bankers will take the after-tax lump sum of nearly $104 million in cash between them.
Now, according to a family friend who has known Brandon Lacoff since he was a boy, the truth behind what happened is very different.
Tom Gladstone said that a client at investment company Belpointe LLC, which was founded by Brandon Lacoff and provides investment advice, much of it to wealthy individuals, was the real winner.
He, Tim Davidson and Greg Skidmore then set up the Putnam Avenue Family Trust which will allow the man to keep out of the spotlight.
Tom Gladstone, a real estate agent who rents Brandon Lacoff the Belpointe office space, said: “The person who really won it is anonymous.
“They set up the trust so that Brandon and his two partners could claim they won it and that the real winner wouldn’t get hassled.
“They have said they are going to give it to charity but they are going to manage the money. They are going to make a donation but they keeping a large proportion of the money and they are going to manage it.
“The winner is a client of theirs and their clients are a mixture of larger and smaller investors. By Wall Street standards they are not big players.
“They set up the trust as a front to ensure their client anonymity. It clearly took them some time to work it out as they won on November 1, realized the next day and have only now come forward.
“I saw Brandon last Friday and he didn’t say a word to me. They are smart, rich Greenwich men.”
Tom Gladstone added that he had known Brandon Lacoff’s father Marty, an anti-trust lawyer, for 30 years and that the family were “hard working people”.
He said: “Brandon is a good kid, I don’t know how else to describe him. Obviously the client is putting their faith in him to look after this very substantial amount.”
According to the story which has been told so far, Tim Davidson bought the $1 quick pick ticket for the November 2 drawing at the Shippan Point BP gas station in Stamford. It was the only ticket he bought.
During the press conference Tim Davidson and his two colleagues sat stoically at a conference table sipping bottled water as Jason Kurland, the group’s attorney, answered questions but declined to address basic issues about the win.
Jason Kurland said: “Obviously, everybody is extremely excited. These numbers are huge. This is going to benefit many people.
“From the first conversation I had with them, it was very philanthropic. Charities was definitely, probably No. 1 on their priority list.”
As they were leaving the news conference, Greg Skidmore stopped at the microphone to identify himself and his partners and said: “And it feels good,” before leaving the room.
The winning numbers were 12-14-34-39-46, Powerball 36.
Lottery officials had used billboards across the state to urge the ticket holder to come forward as the weeks went by without a winner.
Jason Kurland said the group called him the day after the draw.
He said: “They thought they were the winners, and then, that night, I think, one of the local TV stations had the numbers, and the Powerball number was wrong on the TV screen, so that put them into a little bit of a tizzy.
“But the news, to their credit, corrected it a few hours later, and they were confident they had it.”
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Belpointe manages $82 million which makes it a boutique investment firm by the standards of many New York finance houses.
Brandon Lacoff was an accountant for Ernst & Young before founding an investment company known Belray capital, which became Belpointe LLC.
He “owns a number of properties and businesses throughout the region”, according to the Belpointe website.
Greg Skidmore, the company’s president and chief investment officer, formerly worked as an investment banker for a subsidiary of AXA Financial Services and Citigroup.
He is a former member of the U.S. sailing team who was once an Olympic hopeful, according to the company’s website.
Greg Skidmore is also the grandson of Louis Skidmore, the notable American architect and founder of the firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, which created the Sears Tower in Chicago amongst other buildings.
Tim Davidson started his career at a French bank where he worked in foreign exchange before moving on to advise companies, hedge funds and “ultra high worth” individuals.