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The Millionaire's Wife: The True Story of a Real Estate Tycoon, his Beautiful Young Mistress, and a Marriage that Ended in Murder

The Millionaire's Wife: The True Story of a Real Estate Tycoon, his Beautiful Young Mistress, and a Marriage that Ended in Murder

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by Cathy Scott

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The Millionaire's Wife

Cathy Scott

The beloved son of Holocaust survivors, forty-nine-year-old George Kogan grew up in Puerto Rico before making his way to New York City, where he enjoyed great success as an antiques and art dealer. Until one morning in 1990, when George was approached on the street by an unidentified gunman—and was


The Millionaire's Wife

Cathy Scott

The beloved son of Holocaust survivors, forty-nine-year-old George Kogan grew up in Puerto Rico before making his way to New York City, where he enjoyed great success as an antiques and art dealer. Until one morning in 1990, when George was approached on the street by an unidentified gunman—and was killed in cold blood.

Before the shooting, George had been on the way to his girlfriends's apartment. Mary-Louise Hawkins was twenty-eight years old and had once worked as George's publicist. But ever since they became lovers, George's estranged wife, Barbara, was consumed with bitterness. As she and George hashed out a divorce, Barbara fueled her anger into greed—especially after a judge turned down her request for $5,000 a week in alimony.

Barbara, who stood to collect $4.3 million in life insurance, was immediately suspected in George's death. But it would take authorities almost twenty years to uncover a link between her lawyer, Manuel Martinez, and the hitman who killed George. In 2010, Martinez agreed to testify against his client…and Barbara eventually pled guilty to charges of grand larceny, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder in the first degree. This is the shocking true story of THE MILLIONAIRE'S WIFE.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
True crime veteran Scott (The Killing of Tupac Shakur) loses credibility from the outset of this poorly-constructed account of a 1990 New York City murder and its aftermath. She begins by sharing the thoughts and feelings of "middle-aged business tycoon" George Kogan as he walked from grocery shopping to his Upper East Side apartment. But given that George was gunned down on his building's doorstep without sharing those musings in his final moments, it's difficult to surmise Scott's source. Such a fictionalized approach is not a promising prelude. This book details efforts to prove the guilt of the obvious suspect, George's wife, Barbara, who had been spurned for a younger woman, faced with divorce, and who stood to benefit from George's multimillion dollar life insurance policy. But Scott fails to weave plot points into a dramatic story, as when she is unable to explain why it took the NYPD two days to identify Barbara as a suspect, a fact that someone like Ann Rule could translate into a compelling tale. Twenty years later in 2010, Barbara would indeed plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder (among other charges), but Scott's traversal of those two decades is meandering and dull. Photos. (Mar. 27)

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The Millionaire's Wife

The True Story of a Real Estate Tycoon, His Beautiful Young Mistress, and a Marriage that Ended in Murder

By Cathy Scott

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2012 Cathy Scott
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-01097-1


A Cool Manhattan Morning

A light rain fell over Manhattan on a weekday morning like any other. But life can change on a dime, and that's exactly what happened as middle-aged business tycoon George Kogan hurried back to his ultra-chic Upper East Side apartment with a bag of groceries on each arm in anticipation of breakfasting at home with his young lover. The late morning of Tuesday, October 23, 1990, turned out to be anything but a typical day in the city.

On the busy sidewalk, George, who'd recently celebrated his forty-ninth birthday, turned the corner onto East Sixty-ninth Street and headed toward his mid-block building, between Second and Third. As he hurried down the tree-lined street, he didn't notice anything unusual other than the cool morning temperature. He continued walking toward the canopied entrance to the co-op where he'd lived for the last two years with Mary-Louise Hawkins, a twenty-eight-year-old rising star in the public relations world. Across the street, carpenters noisily worked on the new Trump Palace high-rise apartment building. A few blocks away, Central Park was alive with pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers as they coursed through the park's major arteries to their destinations in New York City, where the drone of urban traffic awaited them. George enjoyed walking the neighborhood. He'd lose himself in the bustling sights and sounds of the city. And this day was no different.

Walking from the neighborhood Food Emporium, he looked forward to spending the late morning with Mary-Louise. Quiet breakfasts were how their relationship had moved from platonic to romantic, and they especially appreciated those moments. Plus, George was anxious to prepare for an afternoon meeting with his son, William, who was acting as mediator to nail down an agreeable divorce settlement with George's estranged wife, Barbara, and bring to a conclusion the marriage that in essence had ended two years earlier.

As George headed home that morning, William telephoned his father's apartment to confirm their afternoon appointment. Mary-Louise told him she'd have George return the call when he arrived home from the store. George was optimistic about the settlement and finally getting the lengthy divorce behind him, so he and Mary-Louise could move on with their life together. Also uppermost in George's mind was settling the divorce to help repair the damaged relationship he'd had with William, who had sided with his mother after his parents' separation.

As George continued his walk home, the usual cast of characters were out and about — nannies pushing babies in strollers, residents leaving their high-rises to walk their dogs, business people hurrying to the subway entrance just steps away. George, distracted with the nagging thought of the afternoon meeting, quickened his pace when his limestone building came into view.

He lived in the heart of Manhattan's Upper East Side, once called the Silk Stocking District, so named for the attire worn by the rich people who had once lived there. Long gone was the 19th-century farmland, as well as the market and garden districts that had peppered the area. Left were skyscrapers, rows of stylish townhouses, mansions, and the occasional walk-up apartment building.

For a millionaire antiques and art dealer who had once had interests in a casino and several properties in Puerto Rico and New York, George lived a surprisingly modest life on New York's well-to-do Upper East Side — broadly defined as the area from Fifty-ninth to Ninety-sixth Streets, east of Central Park. His living quarters with Mary-Louise Hawkins were definitely nice, although small, with just one bedroom and a marbled-bath washroom. And while the apartment had a prestigious address with the coveted 10021 zip code in a luxurious high-rise complex, it was not quite up to the elite level of Fifth Avenue, which serves as the symbol of wealthy New York, where George once lived with his now-estranged wife Barbara. Still, he admired the high-end building that housed his current apartment.

The Upper East Side has a legacy of outstanding eclectic architecture, including George's pre-war apartment. The façade of his co-op, a mix of limestone and beige brick, created a grand entrance with its surround and above-the-door stone molding, with tall arched relief details and shallow columns on either side and carved renaissance-style capitals. Above that was a heavy, stately ornamental stone molding. The variety of styles added a touch of grace and grandeur from a bygone era. As a connoisseur of fine antiques, George appreciated the artistry that went into the face of the building and enjoyed walking through the double-glass doorway, framed in oak, with its etched Art Deco design. What George could not know was that he would never again walk through that entryway, and the anticipated meeting with his son and his soon-to-be ex-wife to finalize the divorce was not to be. What happened next, he never saw coming.

As he neared the entrance to his Sixty-ninth Street apartment, his face flushed from the damp morning air, what he heard next was startling. It sounded like an explosion, most probably coming from the construction site across the street.

"What the —?" George cried out a nanosecond later, when it dawned on him what the noise really was. It was the distinct sound of gunfire.

No, no, no! he said to himself, and then, Mary-Louise!

The force of the bullets entering George's back thrust him into a forward dive and catapulted him into the air; he landed in a skid on the rain-soaked concrete. He was face down just yards from his apartment lobby. Seconds felt like minutes.

Coins, bills, and groceries — a carton of eggs, a slab of cheese, a bottle of milk, pieces of fresh fruit — tumbled to the ground, along with George.

Sprawled on the sidewalk next to the wall, with his arms stretched out in front of him amidst the scattered groceries and money, George lifted his head and cried out, "Help me!"

The gunman stood a few feet from George. Out of the corner of his eye, the shooter, who showed no emotion, saw someone move. He quickly turned his attention from George toward a woman stepping out of a car parked at the curb. The two locked eyes, and then the assailant, with a cold, determined confidence, turned and hurried away on foot. He looked down and returned the black revolver, still in his left hand, to his waistband, hiding it under his jacket. Then he hurried up the sidewalk.

The shooter fled the scene as quickly as he had entered it. He headed a half-block west on East Sixty-ninth Street to Third Avenue before rounding the corner, turning right, and disappearing into a stream of pedestrians on the crowded sidewalk as he headed north. When the gunman was a safe distance away, he stepped toward the next pay phone he came across and placed a local call.

"It's done," the assassin said into the receiver. He hung up the phone and again disappeared into the morning pedestrian traffic.

Back at Sixty-ninth, lying flat on the concrete, his face ashen and his body alarmingly still, George called out once more. He tried to get up, but it felt as if an irresistible force held him down. He tried shifting his weight, but that didn't work either. Immobilized except for his head and neck, George Kogan rested the side of his face on the cold, wet sidewalk. He felt the light wind against his forehead.

Dark water stains below the air conditioners at each apartment window in George's building marred the exterior marble walls and portions of the concrete sidewalk below, where George lay bleeding.

He was alone. But not for long.

He tried once again to lift his head when he heard footsteps approach. Bystanders stood over him. He was confused. Just then, George heard a familiar voice.

"George! What is it? What happened? Why are you —" trailed Moses Crespo's voice as he viewed with horror the gunshot wounds on George's back and the blood seeping through his red T-shirt. Moses, who worked as a door attendant at Kogan's building, knelt next to George, stretched out on the damp concrete. He asked what had happened.

"I've been shot," George said.

To Moses, George seemed calm. Almost too calm. He was in obvious shock.

"Who did this?" Moses asked.

"I don't — I don't know. I didn't see anyone."

"Relax. Don't worry, George. I'll be right back," Moses said, adding, "Is there anything else?"

"Can you get Mary-Louise? I want — I want to speak to her," George told him.

"Okay," Moses said, then, "You will be all right. We are going to get help."

"I'm dying," George said as Moses hurried away, first to call 911 and then to summon George's girlfriend, Mary-Louise Hawkins.

Within a few long minutes, Mary-Louise walked through the lobby door expecting, per Moses' request, to talk to George. Instead, she found her boyfriend lying on the damp sidewalk in a pool of blood. As she stood under the canopy taking in the scene a few feet away from her, Mary-Louise became unglued. "She went hysterical, screaming and jumping," Moses said. "People had to restrain her." That awful sight, George lying helpless, was what would stay with Mary-Louise, plus the fact that she and George did not get to say good-bye to each other. In the short time that had elapsed since Moses found him, her boyfriend of two years was already slipping in and out of unconsciousness.

Moses would be the last person to speak with George Kogan. At that moment, Moses's mind was racing. He did not know what to think. He remembered George, a few months earlier, asking him not to accept any deliveries for him and not to confirm with anyone that he lived in the building.

Moses also wracked his brain trying to figure out why he had not heard the shots. Even though he had been in the lobby at the time of the shooting, he had not heard the gunfire. He had not known anything was amiss until a few minutes later, when a housekeeper ran to the door and, frightened by the gruesome scene playing out on the sidewalk, pounded on it to be let in. Then Moses realized why he hadn't immediately noticed the shots: Across the street, at 200 East Sixty-ninth Street, construction workers pounded away, literally, on the Trump Palace, a luxury condominium complex that, at fifty-five stories, was the tallest building at the time in Upper Manhattan. Each weekday during construction, workers used air-powered nail guns to build the high-rise.

But the pop, pop, pop Moses thought was from the construction site was in reality the sound of gunfire as an executioner opened fire on George Kogan's back.


George Kogan's Beginnings

New Yorkers awakened the next morning, on Wednesday, October 24, to the startling headlines that the day before an unidentified gunman had brazenly cut down wealthy businessman George Kogan in broad daylight and in cold blood as he walked from a neighborhood market to his girlfriend's Upper East Side apartment. It was frightful news.

George's apartment on East Sixty-ninth sat between Central Park and the East River in Lenox Hill, an ocean away from his beginnings in San Juan. As founding and prominent members of the Caribbean island's Jewish community, the Kogan clan had proudly started and operated a lucrative chain of home-furnishing stores and made real estate investments that became the Kogan empire. George grew up as a privileged member of unofficial Puerto Rican royalty.

* * *

George H. Kogan was born on September 25, 1941, a Thursday, to Solomon Kaganovitch, a Jewish émigré from Russia, and his wife Ida, a Canadian from Toronto. On the day in September 1941 when George was born, rain and snow fell in Russia, transforming the landscape to mud. The most noteworthy thing about that dark fall day was the fact that Jews were ordered to wear the yellow Star of David. For Jews in Europe, it was a frightening time. The Kaganovitch family was from Minsk, the capital and largest city in Belarus, Russia, which is on the Svisloch and Niamiha rivers. Minsk had been a battlefront city, and by the early 1930s, many residents, including the large Kaganovitch family, had evacuated to the West. George's father, Solomon, was one of nine children born before the Bolshevik Revolution. After the conflict, members of the Kaganovitch clan fled to Cuba, then to New York. Solomon was among those who went to Cuba first, eventually passing through the Ellis Island Immigration Center's portal — dubbed the "New World's Golden Door" — as they arrived in America. At Ellis Island, most family members listed their occupations as "trader," because, while in Minsk, many had labored as today's equivalent of retail merchants. As was common at the time for European arrivals, those family members in the States Americanized their name, changing it from Kaganovitch to Kogan.

The Kogans wanted to stay together, so they sought a territory that would allow all of them in, one where they didn't surpass the refugee quota, per the 1921 Emergency Quota Act limiting admission of each nationality. Puerto Rico, even though a commonwealth and a part of the United States, wasn't overwhelmed with foreign immigrants seeking admittance. The San Juan area — a major port and tourist resort of the West Indies and the oldest city under the US flag — was the only location where all fifty of the Kogans could go to live. So, Solomon traveled to Puerto Rico, on behalf of the family. "He was the one who went to Puerto Rico to see if it was a good place to live," said one of George's cousins, who grew up with him on the island.

Solomon reported back to the rest of the family that they could buy a decent-sized piece of farmland in San Juan, not far from a growing tourist area, and everyone could be there together. Not to mention, there were ample job opportunities. And the port city's growing population of immigrant Jews would make them feel welcome and at home.

While still on the US mainland, Solomon and other members of the Kogan family began shipping wholesale merchandise, through a partner in New York, to Puerto Rico to sell for retail on the island. And "that's how the family business got started," said Dr. Robert Goldstein, whose wife was a cousin of George's; Goldstein is considered the historian of the family he married into. They named their enterprise the New York Department Stores de Puerto Rico. "It was a tightly knit community on the island," another cousin said, "and a more tightly knit family." From that early start, the chain of stores that would sustain three generations was born, and the Kogans had a new homeland.

While in New York, Solomon had met, fallen in love with, and married a Canadian woman named Ida. Then the Kogan clan made their pilgrimmage to Puerto Rico, converging and reuniting in San Juan.

After Solomon and his siblings opened their first department store, the business flourished, as, one by one, the family built New York Department Stores into a lucrative chain of nine stores. The Kogans expanded the business and invested in property. According to a mention in the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, "The family had several major real estate holdings on the island." It was clearly a family enterprise, and many profited from it. "All of these siblings ended up owning the chain of department stores in Puerto Rico, and George's father was one of the founders," said a second cousin to George, who also eventually moved to New York. "Solomon's kids were well taken care of growing up. There were a lot of stores."

Solomon and Ida bought a rural property as a second home near the pastoral setting of Cayey, about thirty miles south of San Juan on the Central Mountain range. For many years, Solomon's homestead served as the Kogan family gathering place. Each Sunday without fail, all would gather for a picnic at what they nicknamed "Solomon's farm." It was the perfect place to escape the touristy city, even for brief respites. Back then, "It was pre-Castro, and you had Anglos who were mostly families who either were sent to Puerto Rico to run factories, or it was more that they ended up in Puerto Rico," said a cousin of George who grew up with him in San Juan. But the Kogan family, an enterprising bunch, made the most of it as entrepreneurs and never fell into factory work.

George was one of three siblings, including an older brother, Lawrence, and a younger sister, Myrna. Even though they lived in Puerto Rico, after grade schoool the children attended private preparatory and military schools on the East Coast. Their parents wanted them to have the best educations possible, which only the mainland, not the island, could provide.

George had a head for economics and learned the retail business from the bottom up by helping out at the stores, including working in the warehouse and unloading new shipped-in merchandise. Once he reached high school age, George was sent to an East Coast military school. But when he returned during the holidays and summers, he worked at the family stores. The next year, his sister was sent to a private boarding school in upstate New York, not far from the boys' academy George attended, and they regularly got together. In military school, George learned discipline that would help him later on in business. Retail ended up being the only trade he would learn, carrying on in his father's footsteps.


Excerpted from The Millionaire's Wife by Cathy Scott. Copyright © 2012 Cathy Scott. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Cathy Scott is a veteran crime writer and award-winning investigative journalist. She is the author of several true crime works, including The Killing of Tupac Shakur, a Los Angeles Times bestseller, and The Murder of Biggie Smalls. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cathy Scott is a veteran crime writer and award-winning investigative journalist. She is the author of several true crime works, including The Millionaire's Wife, The Killing of Tupac Shakur, a Los Angeles Times bestseller, and The Murder of Biggie Smalls. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The Millionaire's Wife: The True Story of a Real Estate Tycoon, his Beautiful Young Mistress, and a Marriage that Ended in Murder 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
PossumKF More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I love true crimes stories and this one was worth the read. I will be looking for and reading more books by Cathy Scott.