Here’s how the New York Times described Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim in 2007:
Indeed, by this measure, Mr. Slim is richer even than the robber barons of the gilded age. John D. Rockefeller, America’s richest man, was worth the equivalent of about 1.5 percent of the nation’s G.D.P.
It takes about nine of the captains of industry and finance of the 19th and early 20th centuries — Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John J. Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Stewart, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, Jay Gould and Marshall Field — to replicate the footprint that Mr. Slim has left on Mexico.
But the momentous scale is not the most galling aspect of Mr. Slim’s riches. There’s the issue of theft.
Like many a robber baron — or Russian oligarch, or Enron executive — Mr. Slim calls to mind the words of Honoré de Balzac: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” Mr. Slim’s sin, if not technically criminal, is like that of Rockefeller, the sin of the monopolist.
But hey, anyone can make a bad first impression. These days, the Gray Lady has taken quite a shine to the man it once described as a thieving monopolist robber baron oligarch. Just ask Pinch Sulzberger:
Carlos, a very shrewd businessman with an appreciation for great brands, showed a deep understanding of the role that news, information and education play in our interconnected global society….As he spoke at our meeting, he conveyed the quiet but fierce confidence that has enabled him to have a profound and lasting effect on millions of individuals in Mexico and neighboring countries. Carlos knows very well how much one person with courage, determination and vision can achieve.
Particularly when he’s just dropped $250 million keeping your business afloat.