Anderson Shrugged


Interesting New York Times piece on space entrepreneur Walter Anderson, who stands accused of being America's biggest tax-cheat. We learn:

The government says that over the last two decades, Mr. Anderson used fake identification papers and a purloined baptismal certificate, and created at least seven aliases.

The most intriguing alias listed in court papers is Ragnor Danksjold, a variation on the character Ragnar Danneskjold in the Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Danneskjold is a sort of Robin Hood in reverse who steals from the ships of socialist governments and gives the booty to the rich, including a solid gold bar he presses into the hands of an industrialist, Henry Reardon, partly to repay Mr. Reardon for taxes he paid.

According to court papers, Mr. Anderson's Gulfstream IV jet was owned by a company named Dankjold Reed, another variation on the name.

Further proof of that infamous liberal media bias, I suppose, that nobody on NYT staff caught the misspelling of "Henry Rearden." And the author seems to miss the significance of this:

The Justice Department, in a 12-count indictment unsealed Monday, said that Mr. Anderson engaged in elaborate schemes to hide his ownership of his American businesses through two offshore entities, Gold & Appel Transfer in the British Virgin Islands and a Panamanian company named Iceberg Transport.

"Gold & Appel," as some of you will recall, is the name of a front-company run by the Discordians in Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy. It's a reference to the "golden apple" Eris (aka Discordia) rolled into a banquet on Olympus she'd been snubbed from, touching off (indirectly) the Trojan War. I'm pretty sure "Iceberg Transport" is a reference to something also, but memory's failing for the moment. Anderson sounds like he was reading his Heinlein as well:

Five years ago, in the interview, he talked about his plans to build a space station, a place he wanted to operate without any government, except himself, where violence would not be tolerated.

"I'm not saying it's fair," he said, "but I've been thinking a lot about human rights in space, and in my space station, people would all be peaceful or I'd throw them out the air lock."

Addendum: Commenter Warren suggests that Iceberg Transport may refer to the Richard Pryor movie Brewster's Millions, in which Pryor's character concocts a scheme to deliberately lose money. I finally remembered what I'd been thinking of—the Nathaniel Hawthorne short story "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," in which an aging failed entrepreneur who'd blown his money on a series of wild ventures is restored to youth and immediately reverts to form:

On the other side of the table, Mr. Medbourne was involved in a calculation of dollars and cents, with which was strangely intermingled a project for supplying the East Indies with ice, by harnessing a team of whales to the polar icebergs.

Either seems possible.