About the Book – Overview
In mid-October Beverley Schottenstein, the matriarch of the Schottenstein dynasty, was deposed for several days in a shocking trial currently attracting huge media interest, in which she alleged fraud committed by her grandsons Evan and Avi Schottenstein. Beverley is my 94-year old grandmother, and Evan and Avi are my first cousins. Nanny, as I call her, entrusted them with her $100 million fortune after they promised to “take very good care of her for the rest of her life.” Suddenly, my cousins were both living in grand style, and they put a tracker on Nanny’s credit card so that anything she bought could be questioned. The monetary debacle was only part of their elder abuse which has torn my family apart. Nanny also sought restitution from J.P. Morgan Securities for turning a blind eye to what they had to know was highway robbery.
The verdict was swift and strong: J.P. Morgan, Evan, and Avi were found liable of constructive fraud, abuse of fiduciary duty, and fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions. J.P. Morgan and Evan were further found liable for elder abuse. My grandmother’s award is in the tens of millions.
The trial follows an investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI, and both criminal and civil charges are expected to be filed against my cousins at any time.
I am writing this book with and for my grandmother who asked me to, as she said, “Help me understand what happened.” I am hoping all my readers will likewise find “what happened” of interest. Truly, I can hardly believe it myself. I know the media will have a field day with this story which I am not looking forward to, but I believe this is a cautionary tale that must be told.
This is the first book ever written about my family, the fiercely private Schottenstein clan of Columbus, Ohio, widely regarded as one of the most religious, influential, and philanthropic families in Columbus and around the world. It’s a memoir about growing up poor on the periphery of an insular family, about coming to terms with incongruent identities. It’s also the candid truths behind a shocking financial fraud, years of deceit, and how saving my grandmother from her own family would ultimately save me, too.
I grew up as a keen observer of my famous family, marooned by my parents’ divorce. While my cousins came of age cradled in wealth and prestige, I was navigating the public-school system and eating leftover tuna noodle casserole. During my weekly visits to the Schottenstein bubble, I felt out of place and insecure.
My childhood was also marked by the chaotic disruption of my family’s business and the estrangement of the family itself, further injecting upheaval into my young life. I would escape adolescence—and the family drama—by becoming an overachiever: valedictorian, jubilant bride, and doting young mother. But soon, cracks in my own foundation would make me question if I had escaped my family’s ill-fated legacy at all.
The Schottenstein clan was named one of the richest families in the world by Forbes magazine in 2015. They are majority owners of DSW, American Eagle Outfitters, Cold Stone Creamery, Value City, more than fifty shopping centers, and many other retail mammoths. Among Jewish communities, the Schottenstein name is emblazoned on the cover of every Talmud. The family is well known for funding The Ohio State University’s basketball arena, the Jerome Schottenstein Center (aka “The Schott”). A private and insular clan, the Schottensteins have received national press for their philanthropy and business ventures as well as their inter-family conflict. Twisted, the first book about my famous family, shares an insider’s journey through its secrets, lawsuits, and betrayals.
When it comes to light that my cousins—the same ones who ridiculed me as a child for “Cathy,” a Christian name, and for my non-kosher diet—have committed unspeakable financial crimes against my grandmother, I am sucked back into the family discord with the cruel force of a rip tide. It is only in the face of these crimes that I begin to come to terms with my own dubious behavior, my dual identities as both insider and interloper, and my overwhelming need to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Twisted is about secrets, the human cost of inherited wealth, religion, and the scars of generational conflict. It is about how our families define us, and how, only after we find the courage to own our own voice, can we reclaim a story for ourselves.