|Intro||American businessman, American football executive|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||7 December 1926, New Orleans|
|Death||27 May 2001 (aged 74 years)|
Victor K. Kiam (December 7, 1926 – May 27, 2001) was an American entrepreneur and TV spokesman for Remington Products, and the owner of the New England Patriots football team from 1988–1991.
After attending Yale, the Sorbonne, and Harvard Business School, Kiam worked for Lever Brothers and Playtex as a salesman. He bought the Benrus Watch Company in 1968, selling his majority stake in 1977. He made a fortune as the President and CEO of Remington Products, which he famously purchased in 1979 after his wife bought him his first electric shaver. Kiam became famous as the spokesman for the Remington shaver. His catchphrase, “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company”, made him a household name. He recorded each commercial in the native language of the country in which it was broadcast. In Britain he became a celebrity, appearing on TV chat shows, including ‘Wogan’, ‘The Tube’, and David Frost’s ‘Through the Keyhole’. He also operated other companies, including Ronson and TravelSmart.
In 1988, Kiam bought the NFL’s New England Patriots for $84 million from founder Billy Sullivan. The sale did not include Foxboro Stadium, which Sullivan lost in a bankruptcy sale to paper magnate Robert Kraft, and Kiam lost money on the deal. In 1990, Lisa Olson, a Boston Herald reporter, sued Kiam and the Patriots when Zeke Mowatt allegedly exposed himself and made lewd comments to her in the team change room. The incident stirred debate over female reporters in the locker room. Kiam became the center of the controversy when he came to the defense of the players’ actions. “I can’t disagree with the players’ actions,” he said, and claimed that the Herald “asked for trouble” by assigning a female reporter to cover the Patriots.
By 1992, Kiam was reported to be heavily in debt to St. Louis businessman James Orthwein, and was forced to sell his 51 percent stake in the Patriots to him, in part to service the debt. Orthwein would sell that stake to Kraft only two years later, after an aborted attempt to move the Patriots to St. Louis. In 1994, Kiam sold his controlling interest in Remington Products to Isaac Perlmutter.
Kiam is also well known for “Lady Remington” jewelry, a direct sales jewelry company specializing in in-home parties. Later, it was renamed Lia Sophia, after his granddaughters, Lia and Sophia. The company was at one point the largest direct selling jewelry in the world and was listed among the top 20 largest direct sales companies by the Direct Selling Association. The direct sales division of the company was closed down in December 2014, when its 25,000 sales advisors in the United States and Canada were laid off.
Kiam resided in Stamford, Connecticut at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife, Ellen, and three children, Lisa Durkin, Victor “Tory” Kiam III, and Robin Kiam Aviv, and seven grandchildren, Jenny, Alexander, Sophia, Lia, Caleigh, Nikki, and Blake.
Upon Kiam’s death The Times quoted one of his closest business associates in later years, Jonathon Lyons, as saying that he was “a truly remarkable entrepreneur of the old kind – the kind they simply don’t make any more.”