VIDEO: “Big Write-Offs Will Inspire You,” Top AIG Exec Raps About Bailout

With AIG finally clear of the US government that saved the company, watch the head of one of its affiliates get down.

Today the US Treasury is expected to sell the last of its stock in the American International Group (AIG), marking the end of the $182 billion bailout that rescued the company. But the AIG brass did not always seem appreciative of the government assistance. Just look at Robert Gifford, president and CEO of AIG Global Real Estate, which oversees $8.4 billion of real estate in various countries. At a 2010 holiday party for AIG employees held at a restaurant in New York City, Gifford rapped, to the tune of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” about working at AIG and having to deal with the government. Mother Jones obtained a copy of the video. Watch:

Read the full lyrics as circulated at AIG.

In this video, first reported (but not posted) by the New York Daily News in August, Gifford raps, “I was hanging out all comfy, at my crib in bed. Now I have endless meetings with…the Fed.” He pokes fun at AIG’s foreign branches. And he tells the crowd, “Big write-offs will inspire you.” In a longer version of the lyrics, sent to AIG employees in an email obtained by Mother Jones, Gifford describes his lifestyle, which doesn’t sound too bad: “Later it Karaoke, drinkin’ soju till I’m smoked…Crusin’ to Tokyo, Hong Kong. It’s a blast.” He adds, “Check out my threads, dawg, I’m Gucci, my junk real good. Check out my bling-bling, so iced out, so Hollywood.”

AIG spokesman James Ankner declined to comment to Mother Jones on the rap, but he confirmed to the Daily News that the party had taken place as described and cost $6,500.

The party occurred the same year AIG chairman Harvey Golub said that pay limits for the salaries of top managers, imposed as part of the bailout, made “little business sense.” And one year after CEO Robert Benmosche told AIG employees, “If you want me, you can have me, but you’ve got to pay. And you have to pay a lot, not because I need the money.”

The Treasury Department is claiming a $22.7 billion profit on the AIG bailout. But Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general of the government’s bailout program for AIG, warns, “incentivizing in the future the exact same types of behavior that led to the last crisis and will almost certainly cause the next.” And possibly lead to other corporate rap parodies.

As AIG Chief Executive Robert Benmosche wrote in a letter to his colleagues on Tuesday, “Take a bow, because today marks our second act.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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