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The sins of Armie Hammer’s father: The family fortune, NYC art fraud and a ‘sex throne’


As his son continues to be embroiled in shocking claims of cannibalism, the apparent sins of Armie Hammer’s father have been laid bare in a bombshell new report.

Michael Hammer inherited almost the entire family fortune, was embroiled in New York City‘s biggest art fraud and allegedly almost came to blows with his son during the doomed Cayman Islands lockdown last year that led to Armie’s unraveling.  

Insiders also claim the 65-year-old, who they say ‘has the mindset of a teenage boy’, keeps a ‘sex throne’ or as he allegedly calls it the ‘naughty chair’ in the Armand Hammer Foundation headquarters, which features the family coat of arms and a cage underneath. 

Michael is the son of Julian Hammer – who killed a man over a gambling debt in the 50s and allegedly sexually abused his daughter Casey – and Sue Kane. 

The strange past of the Hammer family was unearthed in a Vanity Fair expose this week which claimed many of the men going back five generations have been known to have ‘a dark side.’ 

It provides a backdrop to Armie’s life before leaked messages said to be from the actor surfaced in January showed him claiming to be ‘100 percent a cannibal’ and several women spoke out accusing him of emotional abuse and violent sexual escapades. 

One of the women, 22-year-old Paige Lorenze, told the magazine Armie had confided in her about the ‘dark stuff’ in his family and was ‘proud’ of it. 

Lorenze claimed Armie’s mother Dru Mobley – the ex-wife of Michael who reportedly helped tame his playboy lifestyle – even confided in her that she is fearful her son has now been lost to ‘the devil’. 

Armie Hammer with father Michael Hammer. As his son continues to be embroiled in shocking claims of cannibalism, the apparent sins of Armie Hammer’s father have been laid bare in a bombshell new report

Michael inherited the entire family business empire from his grandfather Armand who had made his fortune by investing his third wife’s money in Occidental Petroleum, as well as – according to Vanity Fair – ‘wide-ranging grifts, including laundering money; using artwork to fund Soviet espionage; bribing his way into the oil business; and knocking off Fabergé eggs.’  

The revelation that Armand had left most other family members high and dry when he died in 1990 came as a shock and led to rifts that wrangled through the courts for years. 

The battle over the family estate – which was estimated to be worth around $180 million – is still ongoing today more than 35 years later.  

While her brother Michael inherited two art galleries, two foundations and a sizable chunk of the multi-million dollar fortune, Casey – Julian’s daughter and Armie’s estranged aunt – told Vanity Fair her father received just $250,000 of the fortune.

Fast forward to today and she said she has just $100 in her savings account and is holding down a job at Home Depot in part due to her father Julian being disinherited.

‘If you would have told me in my 20s that I would end up financially challenged, single, and working at Home Depot, I would have bet you a million dollars that wouldn’t have happened,’ she said.  

She thinks her brother Michael could help, given his fortune. She said just one of the family paintings he has would help her get on her feet.  

Michael’s mother also previously told The Washington Post that her son ‘forgot about us’ after he came into the money from his grandfather.

He also started offloading some of the family’s legacy, handing the Hammer Museum to the UCLA art department in 1994 and asking the Metropolitan Museum of Art to remove Armand’s name from the Hall of Arms and Armor so he didn’t have to pay the remaining $1 million. 

Armie Hammer as a baby with grandfather Armand Hammer, Julian Hammer and Michael Hammer. Michael Hammer took almost the entire family fortune and was embroiled in New York City's biggest art fraud

Armie Hammer as a baby with grandfather Armand Hammer, Julian Hammer and Michael Hammer. Michael Hammer took almost the entire family fortune and was embroiled in New York City’s biggest art fraud

He was embroiled in a $70 million fraudulent ring selling counterfeit paintings going back to 1994 at the family-owned Knoedler Gallery

He was embroiled in a $70 million fraudulent ring selling counterfeit paintings going back to 1994 at the family-owned Knoedler Gallery

Michael then moved his family – Dru, Armie and Armie’s brother Viktor – to the Cayman Islands before returning to California around a decade later to a series of scandals.

In 2011, Michael’s galleries became embroiled in a huge art scam that went back almost two decades when the Knoedler Gallery and its former director Ann Freedman were sued for selling a fake Jackson Pollock painting.

Michael had inherited the Knoedler Gallery in New York City from his grandfather who had bought the business in 1971 for $2.5 million.

Accusations of a forgery ring surfaced in 2009 but only became public in 2011 when the gallery closed and hedge fund executive Pierre Lagrange sued the gallery and its director after he was sold the forged Pollock for $17 million.

A probe into the allegations uncovered an alleged $70 million fraudulent ring selling counterfeit paintings going back to 1994.

It turned out the paintings were actually the work of a relatively unknown artist in Queens.

Ten lawsuits were settled and one case went to trial in 2016 with Sotheby’s chairman Domenico De Sole and his wife Eleanor accusing the gallery of selling them a fake Mark Rothko for $8.3 million.

Although Michael wasn’t personally accused of wrongdoing in the fraud ring,  during court testimony it was claimed he had been using the gallery’s funds for his personal expenses including two luxury cars and a trip to Paris.

But Michael never answered to the allegations as the case was settled just an hour before he was due to testify.

One source told Vanity Fair this was all part of the family’s penchant for ‘spending other people’s money’ as they called them the ‘lucky sperm club.’

Michael Armand Hammer attends the Petersen Automotive Museum 22nd Annual Gala at the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2016

Michael Armand Hammer attends the Petersen Automotive Museum 22nd Annual Gala at the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2016

Armand, Julian, Michael and Armie Hammer. Insiders claim Michael keeps a 'sex throne' or as he allegedly calls it the 'naughty chair' in the Armand Hammer Foundation HQ

Armand, Julian, Michael and Armie Hammer. Insiders claim Michael keeps a ‘sex throne’ or as he allegedly calls it the ‘naughty chair’ in the Armand Hammer Foundation HQ

‘We call these guys the lucky sperm club here,’ the insider said. 

‘Never accomplished anything. They know a whole lot about spending other people’s money.’ 

Other habits that allegedly run in the family include a fondness for kinky sex, with a former friend of Michael’s saying he was ‘not the least bit surprised’ when he heard the allegations about Armie’s sex life. 

The friend – as well as two other sources – told Vanity Fair Michael bragged about having a sex throne inside the family business’s HQ.

The chair is reportedly about ‘seven feet high, features a chair with a hole in the seat, a cage underneath, and a hook’ with the Hammer coat of arms painted on the seat. 

According to the report, a smiling Michael is pictured in a photo sitting on top of the throne while holding the head of a smiling blonde woman, who is sitting in the cage below. 

Counsel for Michael Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation told Vanity Fair the claims about his sex throne, drug and alcohol use, finances, and history with women are ‘absurd’.

‘These questions, which ask about unsolicited gag gifts sent by friends, conduct that sounds pretty typical of recently-divorced people, and entirely legal financial transactions that were properly accounted for, are absurd,’ said the counsel Clare. 

But friends told the outlet he ‘has the mindset of a teenage boy’, would send x-rated photos to his friends and embarked on ‘a string of women, illicit substances, and tattoos’ after his split from Dru.

It was an apparent bust-up with his son that contributed to hopping on a plane out of the Cayman Islands in June – a move that was said to have triggered divorce proceedings by Armie’s wife Elizabeth Chambers and the damaging claims brought by several women.  

Armie and Michael. A source claims Michael and Armie almost got into a fist fight while quarantining in the Cayman Islands last year

Armie and Michael. A source claims Michael and Armie almost got into a fist fight while quarantining in the Cayman Islands last year

Armie with his two young children whom he shares with his estranged wife Elizabeth Chambers, 38 (pictured together)

Armie with his two young children whom he shares with his estranged wife Elizabeth Chambers, 38 (pictured together)

Courtney Vucekovich, who claimed in January Armie was into ‘master-slave fetishes’ and told her he wanted to break and eat her ribs, told Vanity Fair Armie confided in her he was escaping his ‘crazy family’ after almost getting into fist fights with his father. 

Armie and Michael had been holing up in a luxury villa in the Cayman Islands under lockdown alongside Michael’s latest wife Misty, Elizabeth and Armie’s two kids. 

‘Within the first five minutes, he was basically like, this all goes back to my horrible childhood,’ said Vucekovich. 

‘It’s not the most romantic thing, but we bonded over past trauma.’ 

His June departure in the middle of the pandemic was reportedly the ‘final straw’ for Elizabeth who had endured years of infidelity, a friend told Vanity Fair, and she filed for divorce the following month.     

Vucekovich revealed new details about her relationship with Armie telling Vanity Fair he made her ‘feel bad for him’ before he ‘love-bombs you like crazy… And then he starts the manipulation and the darker stuff.’

She told Vanity Fair she was left ‘with regret’ following one encounter after she said she agreed to ‘a bondage scenario that I was not comfortable with.’

While Armie allegedly opened up about tensions with his father, one of the other women to come forward in January claimed Armie’s mother confided in her she was ‘so worried’ about her son and feared the devil was trying to ‘take’ him. 

Dru allegedly told Lorenze she was ‘so worried about Armie and so grateful for me because she felt like I was a good influence on him. 

‘And that she just wanted him to accept God back into his life. And that he had just been fighting everything for a long time.’ 

Armie’s parents are only part of the picture. 

Scandal and shocking tales have rocked the family for at least five generations starting with Dr. Julius Hammer, Armie’s great-great-grandfather and a central figure in the US Communist Party, who was convicted of manslaughter for performing a botched abortion on the wife of a Russian diplomat in 1919 where she later died. 

While in prison, his son Armand (the man behind the family empire) took over his pharma business Allied Drug and was personally endorsed by Vladimir Lenin in a letter to Joseph Stalin.

Armand Hammer in 1977 who made the family fortune and snubbed most of the family when he died

Armand Hammer in 1977 who made the family fortune and snubbed most of the family when he died 

Armand, who married three times, later tried to distance himself from his Soviet past and reportedly mingled with senior political figures including Senator Al Gore Sr., attended the presidential inaugurations of FDR, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush and hung out with Prince Charles. 

He was pardoned by Bush in 1989 after he made an illegal contribution to Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign which is said to have helped pay toward the Watergate scandal. 

His son Julian, Armie’s grandfather, carried on the legacy for scandal when he killed longtime friend Bruce Whitlock in Los Angeles in 1955.

The FBI said the killing was over a gambling debt and he was charged with first-degree manslaughter but the charges were dropped. 

According to Vanity Fair, Armand sent $50,000 in cash to a lawyer in Los Angeles before the charges were dismissed.  

Julian has also been accused of sexually abusing his daughter Casey when she was a child.

Casey made the claims in her 2015 memoir Surviving My Birthright.

She also claims Julian was abusive to other members of the family.

Jan Ward, Casey and Michael’s half sister, declined to comment on the allegations when approached by Vanity Fair.

‘I will say that I love my family very much which includes my brother, my sister, and my nephews…I do have wonderful memories of us kids spending every summer at Laguna Beach with our Grandma Olga and spending the holidays with our parents and grandparents,’ she said in a statement.

‘We were all blessed to be able to attend excellent schools thanks to Grandpa Hammer who was a great supporter of education. Our family taught us the value of hard work and I have had a fulfilling career and a wonderful family life.’   



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