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Silicon Valley Billionaire Sets Record With $201M Life Policy

By Peter Delevett, San Jose Mercury News
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 15--Is it Larry Ellison? Elon Musk? Zuck?

Somewhere in Silicon Valley, a "mystery billionaire" has bought what the Guinness Book of World Records says is the most valuable life insurance policy in history: A pact that will pay his survivors a cool $201 million.

Guinness officials said the figure more than doubles the previous record set in 1990 for a policy on the life of an unnamed "entertainment industry figure." In this case, too, the name of the buyer is being closely guarded.

"We don't want hit men running around Palo Alto trying to find him -- or members of his own estate," quipped Dovi Frances, the Southern California financial services provider who sold the policy.

Actually, make that more than two dozen policies, underwritten by 19 different insurers. Frances said if any single company had to pay out such a lavish benefit, it could be crippling.

He wouldn't say how much his client will pay in annual premiums -- "the insurance companies will kill me" -- but he allowed that it's in the single millions of dollars.

Frances won't be hauling in a percentage of the sale. His firm, Santa Barbara-based SG LLC, charges clients a flat (and one can assume, steep) annual fee for advisory services ranging from asset management to alternative investments. He's worked with the client in question for four or five years "and he was kind enough to allow us to broadcast this news without mentioning his name."

Guinness, Frances said, spent six months determining the policy was real before awarding the world record.

Although SG has offices in Moscow, Frances wouldn't bite when asked if the buyer was Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who helped fund Facebook and later paid a record $100 million for a mansion in Los Altos Hills.

SG's LinkedIn page notes that it's an investor in venture capital funds run by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale, but Frances demurred when asked if either man bought the policy.

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A spokeswoman for Musk, the man behind PayPal, Tesla and other high-flying startups, declined to say whether or not her boss was the mystery buyer. An email seeking comment from Oracle CEO Ellison was not answered by press time.

Frances wouldn't even hint how old the buyer is, although he said his client was hoping to offset federal estate taxes that could take 45 percent bite out of his heirs' high-end inheritance.

Perhaps most remarkably, Frances' firm won the client's business via a direct mail campaign. Who knew that valley billionaires open mass mailings?

Follow Peter Delevett at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.

___

(c)2014 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Wordcount: 457



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