A prominent jeweler in town concurs, saying that the recessionary storm that pounded the Philadelphia jewelry industry claimed many more victims than just Drake — among them the legendary Jack Kellmer, who closed his doors as he saw the worst approaching. “Good people, good stores, good reputations, people who had been in business for many years — it didn’t matter. Business dropped off so drastically that even if you were good at what you did, you were lucky to survive it,” this jeweler says. “Everybody got knocked down, and didn’t even see the punch coming. A couple of us got up, but we staggered. The others just didn’t get up.”
Friends say Drake’s troubles have clearly rattled him, which has unsettled them: People who know Craig Drake aren’t used to seeing anything but the merry prankster. But there are no plans for any more summer parties, no trips scheduled to St. Tropez or St. Barts. The house is on the market. Craig and Tania were recently spied out at a chic Center City restaurant, where they stopped by the table of a prominent businessman. Tania was showered in twinkling necklaces, bracelets and rings. “Everything on her,” Drake joked, waving to his wife like a Price Is Right model, “is for sale.”
“It affected him a lot to begin with,” says Robert Swanson, “and then I think he realized that he could still do a little business. He’s still Craig Drake.”
Yes, he is. That Drake name is still worth something. Indeed, one of Drake’s tics is the way he continually plays up his hereditary relationship to Sir Francis Drake. He owns one of Drake’s horn boxes, which is framed and hung in his house, alongside other collectibles connected to the explorer. The Drake link has been a constant in stories written about him everywhere. During one of our visits, I asked him how he’d confirmed his lineage, and he told me his sister had done some research. He then proudly showed me a painting depicting Drake defeating the Spanish fleet.
Curious, I contacted the Sir Francis Drake Society in London and asked about the family tree. Its director, Michael Turner, sent me an e-mail. “Too many Americans make these baseless claims,” he wrote. “Drake had no children as he must have had a medical condition. His brother’s lineage died out centuries ago.”
“PLEASE, DON’T HURT ME," Craig Drake is beseeching on the other end of the phone.
This has become something of a continuing dialogue since I first encountered him at Parc a few weeks ago. He doesn’t want this story done, he says, because he has “big news” coming in the fall, the story will be better in the fall, let’s do it in the fall. He says he’s mulling going in on Craiger’s new jewelry business, though when I bring this up to Craiger, it seems news to him.
“I’m not sure. I haven’t talked to him in a while about what … ” Craiger trails off.
“I mean, I love him as a father, and that’s, uh, what I want him as — a father, right now. And I haven’t been paying attention to what he’s been doing. I’m excited about doing my own thing right now.” So would he or wouldn’t he be open to his dad joining the business? Another pause. “As of now, he’s not involved in the business.”