Suspense novelist buys seat on Chicago financial exchange
Suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark created some mystery of her own by purchasing a seat on the Chicago Board Options Exchange for $2.95 million.
NEW YORK — Mary Higgins Clark, whose suspense novels have sold more than 80 million copies in the United States, has created some mystery of her own by purchasing a seat on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) for $2.95 million.
Clark, who is married to John Conheeney, former chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch Futures, bought the seat March 11, according to two people who asked not to be identified. That was the same day the Chicago options market said it would transform into a for-profit company and sell stock to the public this year.
The author, who said she was paid $64 million in 2000 to write four novels for publisher Simon & Schuster, may be expecting investors will clamor for a chance to own a piece of the largest market for equity options. Clark's seat will convert to shares when CBOE sheds its member ownership. The New York Mercantile Exchange's stock rose 125 percent on its first trading day in 2006.
"She's a brilliant writer and a great investor," said Richard Schaeffer, who was chairman of Nymex when it went public and is an acquaintance of Conheeney, who served on the exchange's board. "Keep doing what you're doing," Schaeffer said when asked if he has advice for Clark. "My further advice would be to stay married to John forever."
CBOE spokeswoman Gail Osten declined to comment. A Simon & Schuster representative for Clark declined to provide contact information for the author. A call to Conheeney at their Saddle River, N.J., home wasn't returned.
Seat prices help determine the value of the exchange, as the price of shares determines the value of a public company. Clark's purchase valued the shares the exchange will issue at $49.17 each. The 930 current seats, or memberships, will each be given 60,000 shares of Class A stock. CBOE seat price reached a record high of $3.3 million in June 2008.
Clark, 80, has written such novels as "The Shadow of Your Smile" and "Just Take My Heart." She's known for plots that involve serial killers. In "Loves Music, Loves To Dance" a madman keeps dead women in a freezer and dances with their frozen corpses.
"That is sort of a sweet book, you know?" she joked in a 2005 interview. "The kind you read to your kids at night."
Clark said in the 2005 interview that she takes investment advice from her advisers and not her husband, dubbed "the elder statesman of the futures industry" by the Futures Industry Association.
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