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‘King Larry’ reviews billionaire’s life that ended in CNMI

By Ferdie de la Torre SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 11, 2012) - Award-winning filmmaker James D. Scurlock has written a book about the life of the late billionaire, Larry Lee Hillblom.

Scurlock told Saipan Tribune yesterday that his book, King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius, will be launched nationwide today, Wednesday.

"It will be available on and all other online retailers," Scurlock said in an email.

Marlon Regaton, sales manager of Bestseller Bookstore in Susupe, said that they are not included in the nationwide launch but that they can order the books in two weeks' time for interested buyers.

Hillblom, the "H" in DHL, was one of the most influential businessmen of the 20th century. He died in a plane crash off Anatahan on May 21, 1995. His body was never recovered, but the court declared him dead. He left an estimated $550 million to $700 million in assets, according to court records.

King Larry is expected to be a big hit in the CNMI, particularly in the legal and business community. Hillblom was a very influential lawyer who also owned several businesses in the CNMI.

Publishers Weekly has already praised the book: "Hillblom does not have the immediate name recognition of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Howard Hughes, but the enigmatic founder of DHL has a story that is just as fascinating-and more mysterious-than any of these genius entrepreneurs-a gripping account of the mercurial, visionary, complicated billionaire's life."

According to Scribner Publicity's Lauren Lavelle, the book begins with the story of an asocial young man who grew up on a peach farm outside of Fresno, California. Hillblom went on to co-found DHL in 1969 (three years before FedEx), and it became the fastest-growing corporation in history.

Hillblom's vision and effort turned international shipping into big business. DHL toppled centuries-old postal monopolies, encouraged airline deregulation, and helped banks go global.

Instead of reveling in his accomplishments and wealth, however, Hillblom defied the world and became an international pariah. In 1981, he retreated to a small tax haven in the Western Pacific. There he led the resistance to American meddling in the Marianas Islands, earned the title of Supreme Court justice, and indulged in countless sexual trysts with underage prostitutes, according to Lavelle in a statement.

In 1995, Lavelle said, Hillblom's amoral, thrill-seeking nature caught up to him when his seaplane disappeared off the coast of Anatahan, leaving behind an estate worth billions.

"Attorneys, IRS agents, business partners, destitute women claiming to be mothers of Hillblom's children came forward for their piece of his fortune," Lavelle said in the press release.

In May 2009, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen noted that Hillblom "merited a brief obituary in The New York Times when his World War II era seaplane disappeared in the Pacific Ocean off Saipan in 1995, but scarcely a line for or since. That's a pity; he merits a book."

Lavelle said that King Larry is that book.

Scurlock's first film, Parents of the Year, won numerous awards and was an official selection of more than 25 film festivals. His first feature length film, Maxed Out, won the special jury prize at the South by Southwest film festival and was named one of the top 10 films of the year by The Washington Post.

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