Tuesday, 4 December 2012


David Evans ©2000 Bloomberg, LPAugust 11, 2000
Herbalife International Inc.'s Chief Executive Mark Hughes died after a four-day drinking binge, according to the full report by the Los Angeles Coroner. Hughes, 44, who promoted natural healing methods using Herbalife's health care and weight-loss products, was being treated by a psychiatrist for his drinking problem and smoked six to eight cigars a day, according to the coroner's 24-page report. He founded the company 20 years ago.
On June 16, the coroner found that Hughes died May 21 of an overdose of alcohol and a toxic level of doxepin, an anti- depressant. His blood alcohol level was 0.21 percent. The autopsy also showed his body tested negative for ephedrine.
Three months before he died, Hughes amended his family trust on Feb. 2 to give his wife, Darcy, $10 million within 45 days of his death.
Darcy LaPier became Hughes' fourth wife on Feb. 14, 1999. Before that, a court ordered her former husband, Jean Claude Van Damme, to provide $112,000 a month in support for her and their son. She married the Belgian actor after divorcing Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion mogul Ron Rice, who she married in 1990 after competing in a Miss Hawaiian Tropic beauty pageant.
Mrs. Hughes told investigators that her husband was drinking before he fell asleep on the evening of May 20 on the living room sofa of their $27 million Malibu oceanfront estate. At midnight, she went to sleep after he "resisted her efforts" to wake him. She tried and failed once again to rouse him at 1 a.m., according to the autopsy, before going to sleep in a room adjacent to her husband's bedroom. At 10:30 the next morning, she went into Hughes' bedroom and found him lying on his side on the bed.
"She observed that he did not look right,'' according to the autopsy and used a radio to summon Tetsu Nagahata, one of the security guards posted around-the-clock at the home. Hughes was pronounced dead by paramedics at 11:15 a.m., who were called after Nagahata attempted to administer CPR. Nagahata declined to comment.
In addition to the doxepin, Hughes was prescribed Antibuse, a drug used to treat alcoholism, by Stephen Scappa, his psychiatrist, who runs Substance Abuse Alternatives in Beverly Hills and is certified in treating addiction. Scappa declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality.
David Evans  Daniel Taub©2000 Bloomberg, LP May 22, 2000
Herbalife International Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Reynolds Hughes, 44, was found dead Sunday at his $27 million oceanfront mansion in Malibu, California. Hughes appeared to have died of natural causes, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said. An autopsy will be performed tomorrow.
Hughes, whose formal education ended in the ninth grade, owned 60% of the Los Angeles-based maker of weight-loss and nutritional products, which he founded in 1980. Herbalife products range from snack bars and pills to cosmetics and are marketed by independent distributors who earn sales commissions.
Class A shares fell 1 3/16 to 8 11/16, and are down 47 percent from a January high of 16 3/8. Class B shares fell 1 1/16 to 8, down from their high of 16 1/4.
Herbalife officials said the company was "deeply saddened" and that its executive committee was meeting to ensure the company "will continue with the spirit and vitality of the founder's vision."
Herbalife reported 1999 earnings of $56.9 million, or $1.86 a share, on sales of $1.8 billion.
In 1987, the company agreed to pay California $850,000 to settle civil charges that it made false medical claims in promoting its products. The same year, it stopped selling two products after a safety and labeling review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Tang Quei Plus for menstrual cramps and K-8 to relieve stress and moodiness.
Herbalife last month ended a $510 million buyout offer announced by Hughes in September because it couldn't arrange funding, either through loans or a proposed junk-bond sale.
Hughes owned 5.4 million shares, or 54% of the company's Class A shares, and 10.8 million shares, or 58%, of Class B shares, according to regulatory filings.
Hughes often told sales meetings that he was inspired to start his company after his mother died from taking diet pills. He said in a message on the company's Web site that his mother "totally destroyed her entire life just trying to lose 30 pounds." Jo Ann Hartman, his mother, died in 1975 of what the Orange County coroner called a likely overdose of propoxyphene, a narcotic used for pain relief. She was 5 foot 6 inches and, at her death, weighed 105 pounds, the autopsy showed Hughes is survived by his wife Darcy, a son Alex, his father Stuard and a brother Kirk.

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