Daniel K. Ludwig, reputedly America's richest man, flew from New York, headquarters of his billion dollar empire, to Byrd Airport here yesterday - tourist class and needing a shave.
The 80-year old Ludwig, on his way to a rare public appearance for a bill signing at which Gov. John N. Dalton accepted a gift of land from Ludwig, walked alone and unrecognized through the terminal and entered the airport barber shop.
There, the shipping, timber, cirtrus and mineral billionaire got a shave from Ted Janis. He paid the $3 tab and left without leaving a tip.
Ludwig, who reportedly has not granted an interview in two decades, was overheard telling lawyer George B. Hartzog Jr., who had met Ludwig's flight, that "I carry a razor when I travel, but I couldn't find it."
Janis said, "No tip, that's the way it goes. I never knew who he was."
Ludwig, escorted by Virginia Del. David G. Brickey (D-Prince William) and former National Park Service director Hartzog, then headed for the governor's office where Dalton signed a bill accepting a gift from Ludwig of half the value of a 485-acre tract in Prince William County as a state park.
The park, which contains the site of the birthplace of "Light Horse Harry" Lee, Robert E. Lee's father, will be free to the state under a federal matching formula.
Ludwig's gift of half the estimated $3 million value of the property will be used by the state as its share of the cost. The federal government will put up the other $1.5 million. That amount will be paid to Ludwig's Hawaiian-American Steamship Co., which will also reap the tax advantages from the gift.
At the State Capitol, Ludwig's face was as little known as at the airport, but his appearance was eagerly awaited by a mob of reporters and photographers, some on assignment from New York magazines eager to get a picture of the elusive billionaire.
The ceremony lasted about three minutes. Dalton and Ludwig entered. Dalton said a few words and Ludwig said, "Thank you." Dalton said, "Again, thank you so much."
Ludwig, wearing a dark charcoal suit, white shirt and narrow blue tie, said "Thank you" a second time and the two men rose to leave.
At that point a reporter asked about the gift and Ludwig said, "I think the people of Virginia are entitled to what I think is one of the most beautiful park sites in the United States.
"It's close to the seat of some of the nation's problems," he added in an apparent jab at the federal government.
Another reporter said, "Sir, I understand you don't give interviews."
"I don't, but you have an exception," Ludwig said as he disappeared into Dalton's inner office.
Dalton, Ludwig, Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb and about 30 other people then left for the exclusive Commonwealth Club and a steak lunch from which the press was expressly banned.
The lunch tab was picked up by the Washington law firm of Ragan & Mason, which represents Ludwig.
The Leesylvania park, on a peninsula formed by Neabsco and Powell's creeks, will cost about $5 million to develop for historical and recreational uses that could include extensive boating facilities on the Potomac River.
Ludwig, who according to the Guiness Book of World Records is the only living billionaire, is almost as unknown to the general public as he is rich. Bue he is well known to the world's business leaders and was a close friend of Clark Gable.
He was described in a Newsweek article in 1976 as an "exacting boss who does not tolerate mistakes."
Ludwig began his business career at the age of 9 in South Haven, Mich., when he bought a sunken pleasure boat, repaired it and chartered it for profit. He did not attend high school or college but studies marine engineering at night while working as a ship chandler by day.
Ludwig, at 19, bought a Great Lakes steamer and built up a small fleet of tugs and barges. He bought an early oil tanker that helped him ride out the Depression.
In 1936, he hit on the formula that would make him rich. He would charter a vessel to a shipper before the vessel was built, use the charter contract as collateral for money to build the ship and use the shipping fees to repay the loans.
During World War II, he agreed to build and sell oil tankers to the U.S. government with the stipulation that after the war the vessels would be returned to him. At the end of the war he had a huge modern fleet.
And at about the same time, he leased the shipyard of the Japanese Imperial Navy that proved to be among the most efficient in the world. It was there he turned out the first supertankers.
His enterprises expanded into other fields with the biggest gamble in Brazil where he is reported to have invested almost $1 billion into 3 million acres of timber.
Brickley, the key legislator in pushing the park bill through the state legislature, spent much of the day with Ludwig and later described him as "much friendlier than I had pictured with a very strong work ethic. He loves Virginia - our economy, our way of government, our heritage."
After the drive back to the airport, Ludwig and Brickley stood in the Byrd Airport terminal awaiting a 2:58 p.m. flight back to New York.
Approached by this reporter, Ludwig, head cocked to the left, said he had come to Richmond out of "love of the city."
Then he said, "I don't talk to the press. You should know that. It's safer that way.
"Make up whatever you want. Say I raped my mother. The others do that," he said and turned his back to his questioner.
A few mimutes later, he passed unnoticed through the airport security gate, walked alone down a corridor to the loading gate and checked in for his flight.