A recent post mentioned the "plan" by "North Carolina billionaire" "Percy Walker" to deprive us of our gays. Mr. Walker's blog is incredibly humorous and a cracking good read, and we would never suggest the possibility that it might be some sort of hoax or parody. And why would we need to? The scrappy investigators at Forbes have put their crack team of non-departed staffers on the case. Mr. "Walker" was nice enough to forward their query as to his veracity, along with his response. After the jump, find out what Forbes writers are doing when they're not coming up with reasons that you shouldn't marry a career woman.
Messrs. Walker and Huntzberger:
I am a senior editor of Forbes Magazine. We recently came across the web site www.percywalker.com, which contains the statement that one Percival X. (Percy) Walker of Greensboro, North Carolina, has a net worth of $3,877,498,176.
We were wondering what evidence might be available to support this valuation. Responding to one of the postings on the site asking why Mr. Walker isn't on the most recent Forbes Magazine list of 400 richest Americans, Mr. Walker says it's because he just took several companies public. Our research indicates that no filing made to the Securities & Exchange Commission since the mid-1990s contains any mention of "Percy Walker," "Percival Walker," or "Percival X. Walker."
Princeton University has advised us that, contrary to representations made on www.percywalker.com, no one by these names has ever graduated from, or played football at, Princeton.
References on the website to various stories mentioning Mr. Walker in the Greensboro News & Record are contradicted by the paper's full-text online databases, which show that no such stories exist.
Finally, a service used by professional investigators to locate individuals suggest that there is no adult in the entire country by the name of Percival Walker or Percival X. Walker, nor any adult in North Carolina by the name of Percy Walker.
On a close examination, www.percywalker.com contains strong hints of satire suggesting the site is a spoof and that those responsible possess a certain degree of sophistication in such matters of finance, culture and the media. Confirmation of the actual presence of a high net worth individual, however, is lacking.
It is possible that I will write about these issues in a future issue of Forbes Magazine. But I first would like to to invite comment, clarification or the furnishing of additional information/evidence that would help me to understand this situation. It would be best to hear back from you by Thursday, November 30, 2006, at noon EST. Thanks for your help.
—William P. Barrett
Dear Mr. Barrett —
I lack the desire to establish to your satisfaction my net worth or that I went to, or played football for, Princeton or that I even exist. I will note only that your skills, and the skills of your hired guns, have failed to overcome my elaborate privacy defenses. I do, however, desire to establish that the word "Walking" (a derivation of my last name) was used in the title of a News & Record piece and that the editor of the paper apologized for such use without my permission. (Although I guess technically you may need to call him for confirmation since I could have posted that myself. Here is a link to a post at Messr. Robinson's blog where he extends me his Thanksgiving wishes. His contact details are thereabouts somewhere.)
I know that it must be embarrassing to Forbes to have overlooked someone of my wealth in compiling their annual lists of the wealthiest. I apologize for that embarrassment. But even assuming for the sake of argument that I am not real, my net worth would still have merited a spot on the Forbes "Fictional 15." I notice that I am not listed there, either.
I am exploring whether I have any legal recourse against your publication, real or fictional, for my omission from your lists. I believe the technical title for the cause of action is "defamation by omission."
I admire your tenacity. I have done similar research and have discovered that Borat is not actually an accredited journalist.