Saturday, 2:15 PM
Source: Rockefeller recently traded cash for gold
By Maria Cramer, Sarah Schweitzer, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Clark Rockefeller, the man accused of abducting his 7-year-old daughter in the Back Bay, recently exchanged cash for gold, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.
Detectives believe that putting his money into gold may be part of his elaborate escape with the girl, who was in the middle of a bitter custody dispute between her parents. Detectives are still trying to verify a claim that Rockefeller told friends he recently bought a 72-foot yacht with gold bars.
The last time Rockefeller and his daughter, Reigh, were seen was Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Since then, Boston police have been flooded with tips of sightings around the country, as well as claims from psychics and people who have had dreams about the location of the father and daughter.
"Nothing at this point has been verified," said Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department.
The details about the gold came on the same day an Ipswich woman said she was paid $500 to drive Clark Rockefeller and his daughter from Boston to New York.
Aileen Ang, 30, told WBZ-AM radio that she unwittingly played a role in the brazen kidnapping on Sunday by driving her friend Rockefeller to New York City. Ang said she was surprised to see his daughter, Reigh Storrow Boss, when she picked up Rockefeller, but did not think it was unusual because he told her he had custody of the girl.
"She was happy playing in the back," Ang said in the interview, which was posted on WBZ's website. "She was actually saying … I can't quote exactly, but it was kind of like 'I love you too much daddy,' and he would respond, 'I love you even more.' So it was kind of, I thought, normal."
Rockefeller told Ang that he had recently purchased a yacht and planned to take his daughter sailing, possibly to Bermuda. The Coast Guard has been searching for his 72-foot boat named Serenity.
"Nobody knew for sure what he was going to do because he could have just been feeding me lines to make me think something else," Ang said.
Moments after she dropped off Rockefeller and his daughter, Ang said, she received a call from a friend who told her about the Amber Alert and the hunt for the child. Ang said she immediately called 911 and went to a police station, where she was questioned for two hours.
"I can't believe he actually did it," Ang said. "I'm still in shock actually. I can't believe I know someone who did this."
The details from Ang are another twist in the strange story of Rockefeller, who presented himself as a rarefied and regal man who could be nothing other than a bona fide Rockefeller.
At the Algonquin Club in Boston, where he served as a director, his demeanor was aloof and remote -- as though he wanted to keep his family connections private, according to one club member. His life's work remained a mystery to many. Some believed he had been trained as a physicist, but had long ago given up the workaday routine. In Cornish, N.H., where he and his wife had lived, he appeared to many as a man of leisure, who often could be found gliding down his street on a Segway, dressed in gray slacks, blue shirt, and a bow tie. Occasionally, he showcased his wealth, once kicking around art tubes on the floor of his home and saying they contained Rothkos and other works by famed painters.
To some, the scramble to figure out who Clark Rockefeller is, or is not, underscored longtime misgivings.
"Once I got a clear vision of this person, he was truly one of the most difficult, pathological personalities I've ever known," said Peter Burling, a New Hampshire state senator and a neighbor of Rockefeller's in Cornish.
Police have been searching for Rockefeller, 48, in New York and on the high seas. A friend of Rockefeller's told detectives that Rockefeller said he bought the yacht with gold bars, according to a law enforcement official -- a claim that police were trying to verify yesterday.
At Boston police headquarters yesterday, investigators interviewed the man who had driven the black Chevrolet SUV that ferried Rockefeller and his daughter from Marlborough Street to another part of the city. Two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and have knowledge of the investigation, said Rockefeller switched to a car driven by a female friend who took him and his daughter to New York. That female friend appears to be Ang. Her name was not released yesterday.
Records show the SUV owner is Darryl Hopkins, 54, a livery driver. The law enforcement official confirmed the driver's name. Rockefeller, who does not have a driver's license, had hired Hopkins to drive him on previous occasions, according to a second police official with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Hopkins told Boston police that Rockefeller had paid him $1,000 to pick him up on Sunday and drive him away, said the two officials. Hopkins said Rockefeller told him he was trying to get away from someone who had been harassing him, the officials said.
For some friends, Rockefeller's past was so murky and difficult to pin down that guessing at his roots made for a parlor game. Patrick Calhoun Hickox, 59, a Beacon Hill architect, said Rockefeller sprinkled details of his past. He told Hickox, a Yale graduate, that he had gone to Yale, too. Yale University did not return a phone call seeking confirmation of Rockefeller's attendance yesterday. And Rockefeller spoke with such passion and detail about South Africa that Hickox and other friends assumed he spent long periods of time in the country.
"He is a rather enigmatic figure," Hickox said.
Earlier this year, after his divorce in December, Rockefeller would sometimes talk to Hickox about sailing around the world with Reigh. The divorce ended a temporary agreement for joint custody, and by January Rockefeller was allowed to see his daughter only during supervised visits. At the time, his friends thought his musings about a global voyage were the fantasies of a distressed man, Hickox said.
Frank Ferguson, a director of the Algonquin Club, a private facility on Commonwealth Avenue, said Rockefeller resigned his membership two months ago.
"He said he couldn't afford it," Ferguson said. "For a Rockefeller, I thought that was a little odd."
During their marriage, Rockefeller and his wife, Sandra Boss, shuttled between homes in Boston, New York, and Cornish, N.H., said Emily Miller, a baby-sitter who regularly watched Reigh in Cornish for about two years.
The homes where the couple lived, according to property records, were in Boss's name. Boss, 41, a senior partner at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., signed the deed for a $2.9 million Beacon Hill house on Pinckney Street where they lived for less than two years, and she is listed as the owner of the house they shared in Cornish, N.H., records show.
In Cornish, Rockefeller was known as an eccentric and controversial figure. After he arrived in town nearly a decade ago, Burling said, he never pronounced himself a Rockefeller, but the impression he left was unmistakable. "Everybody was immediately led to assume that he was one of the Rockefeller family, that there was lots of money, lots of power, and that Clark was just [in Cornish] to have a quiet little place," said Burling.
Merilynn Bourne, a Cornish selectwoman, said she once asked him why none of the Rockefellers who reside in nearby Woodstock, Vt., had ever heard of him. He replied, "Because I changed my first name," she said.
Rockefeller told Miller, now 19, that he went to Harvard. Yesterday, a university spokeswoman said there was no record he was ever a student there.
Rockefeller was a fixture around town on his Segway, and attended town meetings dressed in his trademark outfit of khaki pants, Izod shirt, and loafers worn without socks.
"He wanted to be the ultimate preppie," Bourne said.
Rockefeller fretted about outsiders trespassing at the house he and his wife had dubbed "Doveridge," Bourne said. Rockefeller parked two used vehicles painted with emblems that read "Doveridge Security" at opposite ends of his semicircular driveway, Bourne said.
Rockefeller also threatened to bring charges against two local women who went onto his property in 2001, according to one of the two, Nancy Nash-Cummings. Nash-Cummings said he sent her a letter demanding an apology. After the women complied, he wrote back, saying he was sorry for "suspecting you without first considering your standing and reputation in the community," according to a copy provided by Nash-Cummings.
Miller and others said that Rockefeller was often alone with his daughter in Cornish while her mother worked in Boston. Rockefeller would travel to Boston or New York with his daughter.
Rockefeller made sure Reigh read books, appreciated theater, and learned about art, Miller said.
After the couple separated, Reigh was almost always with Rockefeller, while Boss worked, Hickox said. "I hate to use the cliché, but he had been the Mr. Mom figure," he said. "He was the weekday and the weeknight parent."
John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Ryan Kost contributed to this report. Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sarah Schweitzer can be
reached at email@example.com.
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