Were the groom not one of America’s 300 wealthiest men and the bride anyone other than one of Houston’s richest and most glamorous Katrina refugees (and had the marriage taken place in a Polk County JP’s office rather than on the island of Oahu), the New Year’s Eve nuptials of 85-year-old Houston fund manager Fayez Sarofim and “much younger” businesswoman and philanthropist Susan Krohn might attract more than a few “Dueling Banjos” jokes.
After all, the Sarofim-Krohn union rendered Sarofim’s 27-year-old son Phillip and Krohn’s 33-year-old daughter Lori step-siblings.
But instead of casting the marriage in Deliverance terms, Houston’s socialite media is lavishing it in prose carrying the warm glow of Vivaldi:
The senior Sarofims were wed in an afternoon ceremony on New Year’s Eve at Fayez’s home (the former estate of the late Clare Booth Luce) on the shores of the Pacific. The groom, who is seldom seen in anything but his three-piece custom suit, wore a tuxedo. The bride dressed in white. The ceremony, officiated by a friend of the bride, took place on the terrace. The weather was perfect. The flowers were beautiful. Friends and family from both Hawaii and Houston attended.
For Lori Sarofim, you can’t help but think that having her own mom double up as her mother-in-law is preferable to the alternative.
After all, Phillip Sarofim is the son of Linda Hicks Sarofim Lowe, a chain-smoking, pill-popping, raging alcoholic and titanic shopaholic with whom Fayez Sarofim had two sons while still married to his first wife, the Brown and Root heiress and arts patron Louisa Stude. (Linda had a third child with a man she had on the side while seeing Fayez, who later adopted the child.)
Phillip’s birth was among the most scandalous in River Oaks history, as our own Skip Hollandsworth detailed in 2000:
[B]irth announcements for a Phillip Sarofim were sent anonymously to parents of students at St. John’s, a prestigious Houston private school that the two children from Fayez’s first family had attended. River Oaks being what it is, some speculated that Linda had spread the glad tidings. Years later, when asked about the event by lawyers, she denied that she had anything to do with the announcement and said Louisa was the culprit. Yet it is hard to find anyone who believes the very discreet Louisa would do anything to cause embarrassment to her own children. In fact, Louisa has told many of her friends that she too received a birth announcement, which is what finally made her suspicious that Fayez was having an affair. (One person close to her told me, “I think she was the last person in Houston to know about Fayez’s second family.”)
And yet Fayez and Louisa stuck it out until 1990, when they finally divorced, with Louisa collecting a reported $250 million payday. Three months later, Fayez married Linda. That legitimized Phillip, his brother and his half-brother, but the union didn’t last. After six years of Linda’s chaos, there followed a messier, though less-costly, 1996 divorce.
During those proceedings, Linda was alleged to have taken her lawyer Earle Lilly as her lover, but the relationship did not endure much longer than the court case. Lilly and Linda’s split-up was not amicable: she harangued him with bizarre and threatening phone calls, and then sued her ex/ former attorney for breach of contract, alleging, among other things, that he had taken advantage of her fragile state and chemical dependency to wrest sky-high fees from her. Eventually a judge ordered that Lilly and his law partner return more than $3 million in fees to Linda.
Linda, who had been 23 years Fayez’s junior, next took up with a convicted felon named Mason Lowe, who was seventeen years younger than her. In 1999, Mason and Linda purchased an Oahu homesite on which they hoped to build a beachside palace, the better to entice visits from her children, who were in Fayez’s custody.
Perhaps with thoughts toward keeping an eye on his kids while in Linda and Mason’s care, Fayez in turn purchased the Luce estate, and it was in this souvenir of that unhappy time that he married Krohn last week. (Linda never built her Hawaiian mansion and died while attempting to scale the 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro with Mason in late 2000, an expedition most unwise, given her lifestyle.)
CultureMap’s Shelby Hodge wrote that she had been photographing Sarofim for years and had never seen the Egyptian-born investor known widely as “the Sphinx” ever crack a smile—at least never until (and cue the Vivaldi again), Krohn entered his life on the Katrina’s ill winds.