The recent photos of Conrad Black being driven to a Florida state penitentiary showed the man who once commanded one of the largest media empires in the world through the windows of a Cadillac SUV, in casual slacks and a shirt, holding the hand of his wife, Barbara Amiel.
Much has been written about Lady Black, her role in Conrad’s life and downfall, and her reactions. But how much really is known and not just surmised or conjured up by people who are more fascinated than familiar with her?
I had the opportunity to meet her many years ago, through a mutual friend, while on vacation. That was long before she was married to Conrad. Sexy, sophisticated, and completely self-absorbed is how I would have described her even then. Not to mention cunning, and stunning.
How do you think she will spend the next six and a half years while her husband whiles away his time behind bars? Pining for her man? Writing him love letters to help him pass the time? Baking homemade brownies to take on her weekly visits?
I don’t think so.
Amiel has never been one to sit around idly waiting for something to happen. On the contrary, she has always been pro-active in making things happen. Remember that Black is her fourth husband.
Of course, she’ll continue her writing, if nothing else than to complete her second memoir. Also, after years of columnizing and requests for interviews, Amiel has no shortage of venues in which to get her thoughts, views, and musings out there.
It’s hard to bring the whole thing down to a “normal” level, to muse on what I would do in her position, or what other wives do in similar scenarios, because nothing about Lord and Lady Black is average or regular.
But for the sake of this column, I’ll give it a go. To have your husband incarcerated would be awful. To not be able to share your life, your home, your daily trials and tribulations, and your bed with the person you love would be devastating. I imagine that relying on friends and family for emotional, physical, and financial support would be tantamount to getting through the rough period.
But Amiel is not your ordinary woman. Though she has made close friends, she has dropped many on her path to various higher plateaus. Finances don’t seem to be a problem, she allegedly spent thousands of dollars on an Oscar de la Renta design in Palm Beach just last week.
What’s really interesting about this woman isn’t that she’s now the wife of a convict, but that whatever circumstance she has ever been in, she has always been outrageously nervy, and of consuming interest to observers.
No doubt journalists, would-be biographers, and the general gossipy monde will be watching her every move while her husband serves his time. You can be sure to expect a few surprises.
Lisi Tesher is a freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto with her husband and two children. She cares passionately about social injustices, children's health and education, and diversity.