It all started apparently with an ugly Thanksgiving dinner at the Pickens household.
“I was clinically depressed at age 10. I began drinking beer and whiskey when I was 12 - by the time I was 17 I was a drug addict and an alcoholic smoking pot every day before and after school, eating my mother's valium and darvon and snorting cocaine and tripping on LSD.”
This is what greets you at the “5 Days in Connecticut” blog by Michael Pickens, the son of the outspoken 84-year-old energy magnate T. Boone Pickens. The details in it aren't just a sad testimonial of chemical addiction and alleged family abuse; they have raised so many hackles in the Pickens clan that the blog has led to an intra-family libel lawsuit.
Boone and three of his other children are suing Michael, 58, in Dallas County Court. They say Michael’s testimonials are little more than a series of snipes at his kin, the result of a “heated Thanksgiving dinner,” according to a Forbes magazine article, which uncovered the lawsuit. The lawsuit contends that the black-sheep son is trying to extort $20 million from his father.
The blog’s most recent entry, as of Wednesday morning in New York, is an angry screed directed at Pam, Michael’s sister and one of the plaintiffs in the civil suit. Michael accuses her of being a lush and an Adderall addict. After accusing her of accosting his children, he concludes: “This, along with your sick, twisted brands of loyalty, truth and accountability have never been anything but negatives in my life.”
Forbes interviewed one of Michael’s sons, Michael Jr., who says his father’s “blog stuff is out of control.” The credibility of Michael’s statements is undermined because he hasn't always been exactly honest; he was sentenced to five years’ probation in 2007 for defrauding investors in penny stocks he was shilling to them. His father had to bail him out of the mess by paying $1.2 million in his son’s debt incurred from the scam. He also funded his son's ensuing drug rehab.
This latest family crisis is just another chapter of woe in the book of one of America’s richest families. Tom Boone Pickens III – one of the other plaintiffs in the civil suit – stands accused in a separate situation of sucking cash out of his failing aerospace company Astrotech Corp (Nasdaq:ASTC). Tom’s son, Ty, 21, passed away in January from a suspected drug overdose.
The behavior of the Boone-Pickens clan serves as a lesson that incredible wealth doesn’t buy family happiness — though most would agree that neither does being poor.