International Inc. was the final name in a long list of companies whose ultimate origin was the United Fruit Company
, formed in 1899 by the merging of the Boston Fruit Company and various fruit exporting concerns controlled by Minor C. Keith. In 1970 the company became the United Brands Company
when it was purchased by Eli Black. He outbid two other conglomerates, Zapata Corporation and Textron
, for a controlling interest in the company.
The company soon became crippled with debt. The company's losses were exacerbated by Hurricane Fifi in 1974, which destroyed many of its banana plantations in Honduras. In 1974, United Brands reported losses of $40 million for the first three quarters of the year. Black struggled to keep the company solvent, and in December United Brands announced that it was selling its interest in Foster Grant, Inc. for $70 million.
In 1975, the Securities and Exchange Commission uncovered a $2.5 million bribe that Black offered to Honduran president Oswaldo López Arellano in order to obtain a reduction of taxes on banana exports.
A few weeks before the scandal broke, Black went to his office on the forty-fourth floor of the Pan Am Building in Manhattan. At about 8 a.m., he bashed out the window with his briefcase and jumped to his death, landing on the northbound ramp of Park Avenue beside horrified motorists. His briefcase came to a stop on a post office loading ramp, where it was found with its contents scattered nearby.
Close Up of Vignette:
Subordinated Debenture Bond, specimen, 1970’sPrinter: Security-Columbian / United States Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: NJ-New Jersey Subject Matter: Food and Drink
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Male Subject
| Globe Featured
| Winged Wheel or Gear Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole and stamp cancels in the signature areas and body, and some toning and edge faults from age.