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Fun While It Lasted: My Rise and Fall in the Land of Fame and Fortune


Now available in paperback -- a wildly entertaining account by one of the wealthiest sports and entertainment moguls, whose empire crumbled when he was indicted for fraud.

Bruce McNall, the nerdy son of a biochemistry professor, became obsessed with coin collecting. By age 16, he had amassed a collection worth $60,000 -- which he easily parlayed into a vast fortune.

It was never enough -- McNall diversified into other fields, becoming a film ...

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Now available in paperback -- a wildly entertaining account by one of the wealthiest sports and entertainment moguls, whose empire crumbled when he was indicted for fraud.

Bruce McNall, the nerdy son of a biochemistry professor, became obsessed with coin collecting. By age 16, he had amassed a collection worth $60,000 -- which he easily parlayed into a vast fortune.

It was never enough -- McNall diversified into other fields, becoming a film backer and producer, buying the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and luring Wayne Gretzky to play for him, and even dabbling in horseracing. McNall befriended many in Hollywood and produced 20 films. But then the bottom fell out. He was indicted for fraud and spent several years in prison. In Fun While It Lasted, he tells the whole story -- an entertaining, whirlwind trip with one of the highest rollers of the past 20 years.

Bruce McNall was one of the wealthiest coin dealers of all time and was well known in Hollywood as well as in the horse racing and sports worlds. He has been released from prison and is currently living in Los Angeles. Michael D'Antonio is the author of Tin Cup Dreams, Tour '72, and Mosquito, among other titles. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who lives with his family in New York State.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Zanuck
Fun While It Lasted is as rare as McNall's ancient coins . . . it has more than two sides — astonishingly honest . . . entertaining.
Publishers Weekly
When McNall was a kid, his dad wasn't emotionally available, and, as a result, McNall grew up with a need to be liked. An oversized need, actually, which is why, he says, he defrauded several financial institutions out of $236 million. As a teenager, McNall was fascinated by ancient coins and soon became one of the world's leading collectors and dealers. Later, he got into horse racing, creating ownership syndicates that included the rich and famous. He bought a movie production company, a Canadian football team and the L.A. Kings hockey team. He brought Wayne Gretzky to the U.S. and, in 1992, was appointed chairman of the National Hockey League. Alas, ethics weren't a part of McNall's voyage to millionairedom. He abused his position to buy ancient coins well below the wholesale price, smuggled coins out of Tunis, paid under-the-table commissions and, before long, graduated to fraud. Taking payment for coins he had not purchased and using assets that didn't exist to secure loans, McNall was essentially operating a loan pyramid. By the time the FBI came to call, his company had nine different sets of books. McNall got 70 months for his crimes and offers a detailed but unconvincing account of the rigors of minimum-security federal prison camps. In fact, McNall is unconvincing as anything other than a white-collar conman, and his story, while sufficiently dramatic, doesn't provide enough backbone to give him credibility, never mind sympathy. (July 9) Forecast: McNall, who operated and currently lives in L.A., thanks Michael Eisner for "pushing me to tell it all." Ads in Variety and the Los Angeles Times might drum up interest from the film crowd, though the book may not draw widespread interest. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
"It's great fun to read how McNall parlays his boyhood love of coins into a world-class business." (Boston Globe)
Library Journal
Libraries have found that the reading public enjoys a good story on the rise and fall of a public figure, but this book may not fit the bill. McNall began as a geeky coin collector in an unfashionable Los Angeles suburb. By age 24, he was a millionaire doing rare coin deals on three continents. Soon he expanded into horses and movies, partnering with the notorious David Begelman of Indecent Exposure fame. Eventually, he entered professional team sports by purchasing part of the L.A. Kings, a National Hockey League franchise. McNall loved his businesses but particularly the art of the deal, and, when some fast shuffling was needed to save his relationship with the fading bullion and coin empire of Nelson Bunker Hunt, he placed himself on a slippery slope that landed him in federal prison. This book, told with D'Antonio (Tin Cup Dreams), offers lots of name-dropping of sports and entertainment figures and a very breezy writing style, which make it a good read but don't provide much in the way of depth or insight. An optional public library acquisition.-Patrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Technical Coll. Lib., LaCrosse Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A grim tale of the glamorous life and the fraud that kept it aloft until all came tumbling down, told with an annoying measure of self-serving drivel by wheeler-dealer and ex-jailbird McNall. Thanks most likely to the hand of Pulitzer-winner D’Antonio (Tour ’72, 2002, etc.), McNall’s story has a polished momentum. Its subject, however, is deeply unappealing: a striver who broke the law to satisfy an urge to sit at the high table of Los Angeles fame. McNall started as a rare coin-dealer, one for whom making money took a back seat to the historical romance of drachmas, and it’s easy to admire his passion for the work. But soon that passion gave way to the greater pleasure of rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood bigwigs who bought his goods. While McNall bemoans their motives—they were interested in coins for the profit, not the poetry—he started to emulate them, buying into movies and thoroughbreds in hopes of big killings, and entering the world of moneyed celebrity rather than the artistry. By the time he purchased a piece of the L.A. Kings hockey team, he was in desperate need of cash to finance various losing investments. So he resorted to false invoicing, false purchase documents, false appraisals—fraud—for which he now serves up such comments as, "I know those kind of dealings might sound shocking. Some of them were illegal. But in the world I inhabited, those kind of favors were as commonplace as baksheesh in Cairo." He cringed at "the awful, humiliating prospect of failure. I had become a public figure." Poor baby. By this point, McNall is shedding interested and sympathetic readers like rain off a slicker. "Perhaps the fact that I chased so many dreams explainswhy I ultimately fell from grace." No, McNall fell from grace—if there was any—because he was a crook who got caught. (8 pp. b&w photo insert, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641787249
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 7/9/2003
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

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