If you were around in the mid 1990's, it's likely the name BRE-X conjures up some frightening memories. It's a true rags to riches story that involves murder, international intrigue, arson, and exotic adventure. It's also a story about a fantastic investment fraud that left once rapt investors, both big and small in humiliating ruins.
I recall sitting with my first husband, John, watching tv news coverage of the suspicious death of Michael deGuzman, the now infamous BRE-X geologist who either jumped or was pushed to his death, (or faked the whole thing, using someone else's body) from a helicopter over the jungles of Borneo, his corpse quickly devoured by wild boars (true story, at least the wild boars part devouring the corpse). De Guzman was a critical player in the BRE-X story; he was the guy who initiated the salting scheme that fooled everyone, from big name company CEO's to pension fund managers, to little old ladies living on a pension.
It had all looked so promising. De Guzman and his boss, John Felderhof were sure that the Busang property in Indonesia was going to produce gold for BRE-X. But the initial samples were a bust, so De Guzman shaved gold off his wedding band and 'salted' the core samples. BRE-X, run by flamboyant Calgary Promoter David Walsh, became an overnight sensation as mining investors rushed to cash in on what the company claimed to be the richest gold mine ever discovered.
And for two years it worked. De Guzman continued to buy gold and shave it into core samples (his ring didn't last long), BRE-X was the darling of the mining world, and the stock went from pennies to $280. Regular folks became millionaires, but as the infamy unfolded, triggered by deGuzman's demise (murder/suicide/faked death) in March of 1997, it all came crashing down like a classic Shakespearean drama.
"This would make a great movie" I commented to my first husband, who was in the investment business himself at the time. We were both relieved that we hadn't jumped on the bandwagon while BRE-X was soaring, and I have to confess that I was secretly glad that the loudmouth brokers we worked with who were brave enough to jump on the bandwagon were getting their wrists slapped.
But it was far more than a wrist slap. Thousands of investors lost everything, as the stock cratered. It was a spectacle, both Greek tragedy and horror unlike anything we'd ever seen before in the markets.
As it turns out, the story is finally being made into a movie, by producer/director Scott Rosenfelt. He's an independent filmmaker with an impressive resume that includes Home Alone, Teen Wolf and Mystic Pizza. He believes passionately in independent film-making, and he's written the script for the movie and will also direct.
I read a good chunk of his script and was thoroughly entertained. I won't mention the actors that immediately came to mind to play the roles of the 4 main characters, but suffice it to say, Rosenfelt has the influence and the story to attract first rate talent.
He's been researching the BRE-X story for years, and tells me that he is close to finalizing financing for his project, which he plans to go into production early next year. And if you're one of the thousands of investors that was duped by BRE-X, (or if you just like a good story), here's a chance to get your money back.
Rosenfelt believes this is a great opportunity for sophisticated investors in the mining industry who are intrigued with the BRE-X story. He maintains that it is rare to find the elements of a drama, action adventure, thriller and murder mystery in one story. The fact that this is a true story being told in the form of a feature film for the first time makes it even more compelling, especially to a slightly older, more educated audience (a group of movie-goers on the rise).
Rosenfelt says his BRE-X movie will fall somewhere between Blood Diamond and Wall Street, with murder, arson, fraud, and some flawed and fascinating characters driving the story.
Since there has been endless speculation about what actually happened with BRE-X, I did ask Rosenfelt for the inside skinny. He spent considerable time with John Felderhof (among other insiders) investigating the story, and he's written his conclusions into his script. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will share that Rosenfelt does not see Walsh (Calgary promoter), de Guzman (geologist), and Felderhof (senior geologist) as a group of criminal masterminds. He contends that de Guzman started salting the samples with the belief that they would ultimately find the real thing. They never did, and informed or not, they all quickly found themselves 'in over their heads'. They also found themselves fabulously wealthy.
As to the rest of the intrigue, you'll have to wait until Rosenfelt finishes the movie, which will likely be early 2016. Although, I'm pretty sure that if you decide you want to back him with an investment, he'll give you the scoop early.
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