Power: It’s Not Easy Being the Greens

Ultra-rich banker Richard Green and his socialite wife Marla skillfully mixed business with marriage. But then came the divorce

On September 13, 2004, Richard Green wrote an e-mail to Manhattan divorce attorney Raoul Felder, the man the New Yorker had four months earlier dubbed the Misery Broker, and who was representing Green’s estranged wife, Marla, in their divorce. “ … I wanted to discuss the general parameters of the arrangement with her first,” griped Green, but he went on to agree to advance funds for Marla’s start-up wealth management firm to the tune of up to $2.5 million, to be deducted from their future divorce settlement.

“ … [W]e have agreed to treat each other and our respective families, with respect, consideration, and kindness,” he closed his letter, “whether we are married or not.”

But by last spring, if Marla’s account is to be believed, the Greens had given new (and literal) meaning to the term “messy” divorce, the low point — if it is possible to name one — being an expletive-filled food fight. In affidavits filed in Montgomery County District Court, three of Marla’s guests say Richard stormed into the couple’s Bryn Mawr home while Marla was hosting a casual dinner and began picking steaks off the grill and throwing them at the guests. (Court papers do not report Richard’s account of the alleged incident.) According to the affidavits, Richard pelted hamburgers at the kitchen counter, then grabbed a bowl of coleslaw, walked toward the sink, and poured the entire bowl over one male guest’s head. “Oops, I tripped,” he added, according to one account.

The unlucky guest was Jim DiDio, a 30-year employee of Firstrust Bank, the Conshohocken bank of which Richard Green is the CEO. DiDio, as well as another Firstrust employee named Lora Epstein (who was present at the dinner in question), had been fired from Firstrust one month earlier and sued by the bank, along with Marla, for “ongoing theft of trade secrets.” Marla had fought back with a countersuit on the day before Richard’s 53rd birthday, two weeks prior to the barbecue blowup.

It also helps to know that according to e-mails between them that were filed in Montgomery County court, Marla and Jim DiDio were lovers.

Both Richard and Marla Green, as well as DiDio, declined to comment for this story; it has been reported largely through their extensive court filings. What emerges from the transcripts is a cautionary tale of what happens when you commingle marriage and business, and the marriage unravels. By the end of April, Lower Merion police had been called to the Greens’ 26-room house at least five times, and the couple had filed motions for protection from abuse against each other, joined with complaints ranging from Richard’s claim that Marla was throwing away his food to Marla’s claim that Richard had gotten her Jaguar towed while she was out of town, after draining its battery. It seemed an appropriate metaphor for their marriage.