f Frank Sinatra is going to sing for you, he's going to do it his way.
Anheuser Busch, for example, wanted Sinatra to perform for a television special and some beer advertisements, but Sinatra's agent said the singer would appreciate "an economic benefit other than money."
The price turned out be a California beer distributorship, which has since soared from a $1 million-a-year business to $30 million annually, says Millton A. "Mickey" Rudin, who has spent more than 25 years keeping Old Blue Eyes in the green.
About the only thing Rudin doesn't advise Sinatra on is what songs to sing, the 62-year-old Beverly Hills attorney says in a sworn statement filed in U.S. District Court here.
Rudin says he, like Sinatra, does not like to discuss personal finances. But he discussed his financial dealing and those of his famous clients in documents prepared for a libel suit filed by Rudin against Dow Jones & Co.
In the suit, Rudin claims he was "defamed" by the headline put on a letter to the editor he had written to the Dow Jones publication Barron's, complaining about a story.
Barron's put a headline that said, "Sinatra's Mouthpiece," on the letter.
"I think the average reader would put mouthpiece a quarter step ahead of shyster," Rudin says in his statement. The 1979 case is scheduled to go to trial in September.
The documents in the case provide never-before-disclosed details of the financial dealings of Sinatra, one of the first pop singers to turn a golden voice into a gold mine.
Rudin says he is no mere lawyer, but a uniquely close associate who most days spends 20 minutes on the phone with Sinatra.
"He has placed complete trust and confidence in my business judgement," says Rudin, who estimated he can invest upwards of $500,000 of Sinatra's money without even talking to the crooner. Calling his relationship with Sinatra "the only one of its kind," Rudin says he has "complete power of attorney with respect to his investments, brokerage accounts and bank accounts."
Often Rudin and his client do deals togther. Sinatra owns 90 percent and Rudin 10 percent of Somerset Distributors Inc., the Long Beach beer and wine franchise that Sinatra got by singing for Anheuser Busch. The two men later started their own trucking firm to deliver the product.
Rudin, who says representing Sinatra accounts for about 40 percent of the law practice from which he earns an estimated $1 million a year, has represented a dazzling galaxy of clients, including Liza Minnelli, Cher, Lucille Ball, former NBC president Fred Silverman, and Howard Cosell.
He is also a consultant to Warner Communications Inc., a relationship that grew out of a deal he made with the company to sell it Reprise Records, which produces recordings by Sinatra.
Rudin, who said he reads financial statements as a hobby, proudly refers to his various transactions as "my deals."
Rudin got Sinatra and two others to invest in Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., an unglamorous sounding company that--like most others he masterminds--made his clients and himself a great deal of money.
In the late 1970s, he and Sinatra bought about 8 percent of Del E. Webb Corp., which owns casinos, hotels, and land developments, among other things. The Rudin group paid an average of $5 a share and sold out a couple of years later to Ramada Inns for $16 a share. "The Webb people talked them (Ramada Inns) into buying us out to get rid of us," says Rudin.
Rudin says his secret of success is that he keeps his practice small and his clients rich. He says he learned this from U.S. District Court Judge William C. Mathes, for whom he clerked as a young attorney out of Harvard Law School. He says Mathes told him, "Keep upgrading your clients so they produce more income, become more interesting.