Felicity Huffman might rehabilitate her brand but Mossimo and Lori Loughlin will have a harder time rebuilding what was once a billion-dollar fortune.
The cash fines for conspiring to defraud the college admissions process are practically a symbolic punishment. After all, we’re dealing with extremely wealthy people here.
Felicity Huffman and silent partner William H. Macy spent $15,000 to get their daughter a better SAT score. Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion impresario Mossimo Giannulli, paid up to $500,000 for their kids to attend USC.
They could afford it. Huffman’s household has at least $20 million in real estate and another $4 million in liquid assets. Giannulli has occasionally been a paper billionaire.
But while the fines they’ll end up paying at sentencing will barely require getting out the family checkbook, the real damage has already been done.
The judge wants to give Huffman jail time. Loughlin and Giannulli will probably follow.
When they get out again, it’s an open question whether they’ll ever work again.
Slap the wrist, then cuff it
Figure the court will demand what they spent fixing the applications plus around 35% as financial punishment.
After all, the fines on fraud scale with the amount of money in play. Huffman threw a lot less cash around and will pay less. Loughlin and Giannulli paid a whole lot more, so their joint fine will be much bigger.
And prison time also scales with the money. Huffman pled guilty so her plea bargain probably translates into four months of incarceration as well as some house arrest. She could be out again early next year.
The other couple, on the other hand, could go to jail for years. They’re also facing a count of money laundering because of the way their money moved into the admissions scheme through fake charities.
None of them are in a place where their careers will recover when they get out. That’s the real financial shadow looming over them all now.
Start with Huffman. She’s admitted that she did the wrong thing and can probably get the occasional TV movie role from here on out.
Her attempt to pivot into Goop-style lifestyle media fizzled out on the scandal. It’s unlikely to recover now. Aspirational advertisers will lock the door.
She’s left with a working actor’s life and a big comedown from the Dangerous Housewives days, but that’s okay. The important thing for their family is protecting that $24 million they’ve already amassed.
And Macy can keep working. He’s remained strangely aloof from all this even though he was recorded on the phone calls. It’s almost as though that was part of the family’s plea bargain.
He’s not a huge Hollywood player beyond his cult following but people pay him $100,000 per TV episode. That’s enough to keep the bills paid while she’s out of the loop.
Lori Loughlin, on the other hand, has already felt the backlash. Her TV shows have one way or another been cancelled. Even daughter Olivia’s Kardashian-style Instagram career is over for the foreseeable future.
Any interruption will leave Lori unable to work or even rehabilitate her reputation as a family-friendly super mom. She’s too hot for the Hallmark Channel now.
When she comes back, it’s back to working actor life, picking up roles when she can. That’s not a problem or a bad life.
The problem is what happens when Mossimo’s career ends.
Fashion billionaires rarely recover
Mossimo will probably do some jail time as well. The timing is miserable.
He sold his namesake fashion brand a long time ago in exchange for $40 million in cash and a healthy amount of stock.
Unfortunately, while the conglomerate that bought the brand did all right for a few years, it turns out that the accounts were rigged.
Mossimo was a paper billionaire five years ago. That stake in a now-crippled company is now worth $40 million at best, assuming he didn’t sell along the way.
Furthermore, the company blames his lack of participation for getting the clothes pulled from Target, which was their main remaining outlet.
Apparently Mossimo is just no longer selling. The store ended the license contract before the admissions scandal even started, but management’s reaction after the fact suggests that one way or another he’d definitely be gone now.
That’s roughly a $70 million hit for the parent company and it makes any effort to make Mossimo’s name relevant again a whole lot harder.
He can theoretically start over. He’s only in his mid 50s. And he and Lori might not even go to jail, although it looks unlikely that a jury will find them completely innocent of all charges.
But the family advisors really need to accept the fact that the principals have been forcibly retired. They’ll need to learn to live on the assets they have left.
There’s evidently quite a bit of money to work with. After all, $500,000 checks don’t get written on overdrawn accounts.
The question is how much is left. The point, however, is that there’s unlikely to be a lot more.
And if the pressure drives the couple to split up, every dollar will need to stretch twice as far to support separate households. I hope divorce rumors are unfounded but Lori was around for all of Mossimo’s publicly traded days. She’s entitled to half.
They can’t even profit on the TV movies that are already rolling out based on their story. Remember, you’re not allowed to make money on crime.
If we were talking about Martha Stewart, I wouldn’t be concerned. Martha did her time and came out richer than ever, but then again, she still owned her brands and could call the shots.
She wasn’t exactly famous for being family friendly either. The core personal image more or less matched the crime. After all, insider trading has a whiff of old money that suited the Martha mystique.
Mossimo is all about middle-market leisurewear. Do his customers care about mail fraud? Not really. But more to the point, they don’t care what he does, good or bad.
When Target shut down the license, they complained that he wasn’t actively involved. It wasn’t a fashion line any more. It was just another label.
Lori is a very different story. And if they’re both sidelined, there’s not a lot of dynasty left here to contemplate.
The girls got into their school. It’s up to them now to build on whatever their parents have accumulated so far.
Maybe there's a trust to help the money stretch farther across generations. If the fines were more severe, it would have been a godsend. As it is, an estate plan is probably the last thing on their minds now.
They got the next generation into school. They paid too much and went through dubious channels. Now they're living with the results.