The mystery of Lou Pai revisited

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Illustration by Jay Bevenour
King of the mountain and former Enron exec Lou Pai.

A blog by The Atlantic's James Fallows gives a shout-out to a 2002 Westword feature, "The Mystery of Pai," dealing with one of the more mysterious figures in the Enron debacle. Fallows was apparently catching up on his Netflix backlog, including the searing 2005 documentary about Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room, which got him wondering whatever happened to Pai, a fellow who cashed in more stock than anyone at the peak of the company's energy shell game, then dropped from view.

As our 2002 article explained, Pai came to Colorado and quietly picked up one of the largest and most contentious pieces of private property in the state: the Taylor Ranch in Costilla County. There he feuded with locals, being inexorably dragged into community claims of access rights that had bounced around the courts for decades.

But the story doesn't end there. A follow-up article, "Back at the Ranch," reported a historic 2002 Colorado Supreme Court decision that restored access rights to the people of San Luis. Pai sold the ranch (reportedly for triple what he paid for it) in 2004, leaving the buyers to try to thrash out arrangements with the locals. Still, it would be interesting to track Mr. Pai down and ask him what he thinks of the current financial upheaval, which makes Enron's $60 billion collapse seem so...2001.

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