The Royal Family

When Lee Tabas went public with a letter questioning his brother Robert’s leadership of the family bank in Narberth, he pulled back the veil on a real-life soap opera: a storied, wealthy Main Line family torn asunder by greed, backstabbing and gossip; a colorful patriarch who pitted son against son; and a trail of scandal and lawsuits that has almost everyone not talking to someone else. Meet the Tabases

When the estate brought in Price Waterhouse to dig through the financial records of Tabas Enterprises, the auditing firm found that while Dan used a lot of the family’s joint income for business, he also bought personal stuff for himself and his family “for which no business purpose exists.” Like panties. And prescriptions. And a heater for his pool. Tabas Enterprises paid for meals and other sundries for Dan while he was at his vacation homes, along with the airfare to fly him, his wife and his kids to those homes. It paid for gardeners, handymen and maids, including one for whom compensation was listed as a “travel and selling expense.” It paid for 24 cars, assigned to various members of his family. It also paid for gas, insurance, repairs, registrations and car phones for all 24 cars. On top of that, Tabas Enterprises paid Dan his annual management salary, and salaries to all of his children, who were largely “phantom” or “ghost” employees.

Yet in the tradition of Tabas Family weirdness, there were stranger claims, like Dan submitting a gas receipt for an expense reimbursement and then, two weeks later, submitting the carbon copy from that same receipt. He also submitted seven consecutively numbered cab receipts from the same New York City cab. He had petty cash reimburse him for a meal, only to then submit the same expense through his credit-card statement. Such thrift lends credence to the legendary tale of Dan nickel-and-diming a guy who worked on the decor at the Downingtown Inn. The guy then went to his car and came back with a gun and said, ‘‘You will pay the goddamned bill or you’re dead!” (Dan wrote out a check immediately.) Dan may not have inherited his father’s need to take care of his extended family, but he did inherit those Depression-era genes. He’d lived through it himself — watching his family lose everything. He worked 18-hour days. His kids might not all have had “real” jobs, but they’d worked hard growing up. Lee and Robert held just about every job that existed in the family businesses — waiter, porter, grass-cutter.

Dan managed his kids. Whenever one of them got married, Dan bought the newlyweds a “marital residence” that was as close as possible to his estate on Mulberry Lane in Haverford, known as Acorn Farm. Their bills were paid through the family office. Trusts were handed out like allowances; there were likely so many trusts that Dan’s kids probably never knew how much money they actually had. “They never bragged. They were never showy like that,” says a source who went to school with the Tabas kids at Harriton High. “But everyone knew.”

How could they not? There were several fountains on Dan Tabas’s front lawn. And statues. And an old Piper Swift airplane that his grandchildren played on. There was a plaque on his massive home on the Boardwalk in Ventnor that read “Founded by Dan and Evy Tabas,” along with not one, not two, but 12 (at least) sculptures in the front yard.  There was an enormous photo of Prince Charles in his office. “When he liked you, you were his greatest friend on earth,” says Trump. “And when he didn’t like you, you were in for a beating.”

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  • stephanie

    Good dirt and reading!

  • Barton

    During my childhood, in the late 40's and early 50's, I lived a few doors from "Uncle Charles" and Aunt Harriet and their son, Andy, and I would occassionally visit at them at their home where we would pop popcorn. They are really nice people.

  • Anne

    Ok , every family has it’s dirt or secrets
    Just cause these are smart and part of the ” chosen people ” who have brains and business smarts and happen to have made successes of themselves all you other jealous creeps need to get a life and stop using this family and other Main Line families as scapegoats. Get a life and work hard like the Tabas’ did to build their empire instead of looking for juicy stories like insecure leeches . This is one dignified family . They are not selfish but selfless and it is time to thank them for all charitable work that has enhanced the quality of life of the Main Line , Philadelphia , Adath Israel ,and so on and so on
    instead of bashing them

  • Bob

    Certainly some take pleasure in sniping at the rich, and no doubt there is an element of antisemitism at work, too. But this story is factual. I worked for the Tabas family and was privy to much. To put it politely, Daniel Tabas was not a very nice man. Yes, he worked hard, but he was also cruel, greedy, and heartless, a caricature of the money-grubbing Jew, unlike the vast majority of our people. Yes, he gave millions to good causes, but not because he gave a damn about anyone other than himself and his direct descendants but rather to buy respectability. He was a bully who treated his managers badly. He lined his immediate family’s pockets by putting everyone on the payroll of businesses that they never stuck their noses into, while paying employees sub-standard wages. He made a lot of people’s lives miserable. Dignified? That’s laughable.
    The previous comment attempts to write off any criticism of Daniel Tabas as jealousy. I think not. The evidence is overwhelming. And I

  • Bob

    (It says 200 word max, why cut me off at 175? To continue . . .) The evidence is overwhelming. And I can’t think of anyone less deserving of jealousy than he; he may have had millions, but my impression of him was he was a very unhappy man.

  • Anne

    There are lots of disgruntled employees and the greatest TV episodes are based around so many of these stories . Since you are not coming forth to reveal your identity Mr Bob , I think you’re full of it . I happen to know alot of this history and my family performed acts of kindness with theirs. The women of this family are some of the kindest most giving people who do not demand publicity or even acknowlegment for their charity and help to others. If you are Jewish , Gd is watching and listening .

    some of us just actually get more pleasure from helping others which may be a foreign concept to you . Get a life and a job you can hold on to and leave the Tabas’ alone

  • Bob

    Funny, criticizing me then posting anonymous, whoever you are. I have no ax to grind and rarely criticize others. I stand by everything I wrote. I only post anonymous so as not to suffer possible retribution from a family that can be very mean. And while my comments are about people I knew and worked with, your comments about me are meaningless, you know nothing about me. If you did, you’d know my whole life is about kindness. I only spoke up against the Tabas’s (and not all of them, by the way) because I was witness to the pain they, particularly Daniel, caused. The article that we are commenting on- do you think the journalist has an ax to grind? No, he researched a story and told it how it was. And yes, I am a Jew. Not the hypocritical kind of Jew that you are either. G-d is watching and listening, indeed. What arrogance. Perhaps your defense of Daniel is because you are a megalomaniac like he was. But I can’t say, because I don’t know you. Only a real horse’s…

  • Bob

    continued . . .Only a real horse’s ass would write what you did about someone you know absolutely nothing about!!