In a further sign of worsening conditions in the magazine industry, Forbes LLC announced it would be selling one of the company's namesake brothers.
The announcement, made late Tuesday by Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes, came amidst a new wave of layoffs at the magazine and caught few observers by surprise. The company in recent years has sold off assets ranging from its south seas island, a helicopter from the company yacht, Faberge eggs, a Colorado cattle ranch, toy soldiers, a palace in Morocco and historical documents including Lincoln's final address as President. The Forbes building itself, at 60 Fifth Avenue, was put on the market in 2007.
Yesterday's announcement squelched rumors the company has nothing left to sell.
"Pop always told us," said Mr. Forbes, referring to his late father, legendary publisher Malcolm Forbes, "that people are our greatest asset. Now the time has come to prove him right by monetizing one of my three brothers." Exactly which brother would be sold was not immediately clear.
Initial speculation favored Christopher, 'Kip' Forbes, whose role in the organization has been diminished following the sale of artworks from the family collections, over which he had responsibility. A number of Middle Eastern buyers are believed to be interested in the still-boyish executive, bon vivant and man-about-town. Siblings Timothy and Robert manage other divisions of the company, for now. A sister, Moira, has no involvement in the business and is believed not to be for sale.
In making his announcement, Mr. Forbes professed optimism about the future, especially that of Forbes.com, which attracts some 20 million users daily. "If pop were here," he said, grinning broadly, "I'm sure he'd crack open the world's most expensive bottle of wine." The Forbes family once owned the most expensive bottle, bought at auction for $156,000 in 1985. It was later found to contain vinegar.
Mr. Forbes is author most recently of 'Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS.' He is a four-time winner of the highly prestigious Crystal Owl Award, given annually to the financial journalist whose economic forecasts for the coming year have proved most accurate.