Until recently, Nick Martin and his family had an Adirondacks waterfront camp at Tupper Lake, N.Y. Their garage held three stylish cars, including a yellow Aston Martin; they owned three horses, one that cost $173,000; and Mr. Martin treated his wife, Kate, to a birthday weekend at the Waldorf-Astoria, with dinner at the “21” Club and a $7,000 mink coat.
That luxurious world was fueled by a check Mr. Martin received in 1998 for $14 million, his share of the $600 million sale of Martin Media, an outdoor advertising business begun by his father in California in the 1950s. After taxes, he kept about $10 million.
Soon after the money arrived, the family decided to leave Paso Robles, amid some lingering tensions that Mr. Martin felt with his brother Tom Martin and brother-in law David Weyrich, who had run the business. Nick Martin had never been in management at the billboard company, though he had been on the board and worked at Martin Brothers Winery, another family business.
But as so often happens to those lucky enough to realize the American dream of sudden riches, the money slipped through Martin's fingers faster than he ever imagined.