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Chicago Furrier Pleads Guilty to Running Drug Operation

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Chicago, IL The news that top Chicago furrier Sohrab Tebyanian, 62, was laundering drug money through his stores and ghost paying employees who did no real work does not surprise Chicago animal advocates.

Why would Tebyanian's Andriana Furs remain standing when other Chicago furriers like Evans, the world's largest, D'ion and Mysels in the Palmer House Hilton expired years ago?

"How well is your fur selling when you show men's underwear in your windows?" a spokesman at the Fur Free Friday parade even asked the unctuous little men hiding behind Andriana curtains--except when they made obscene gestures--last year. "Next year we'll be here but you won't!"

No kidding. A week after Christmas, Macy's was unloading furs at outtahere prices like $378 for a rabbit coat and $743 for a fox jacket and Saks was selling fur with dressed-from-the-waist-up newspapers photos normally associated with pay web sites and women who get in stopped cars. The fur business was down 40 percent on Toronto's Spadina Avenue said the Globe and Mail which called it a "sunset" industry.

Nor is the pelt business hopping.

Not one pelt from last years' Nunavut seal kill sold at this year's Toronto auction says the Northern News Services as the European Union considers a seal products ban. No wonder Canadian officials have vowed to clean up this year's hunt by banning the use of the club with a hook on one end called a hakapik "on seals more than a year old who have not already been shot." That's 11,000 pelts, counting last year's unsold inventory, which were "taken" for no reason.

Finland's famous fur farmers are also feeling the crunch from low demand and low prices Pirrko Rantanen-Kervinen of the Finnish Fur Sales Co. Ltd. tells the Helsingin Sanomat. Farmers are placing pelts in freezers to wait for better times and wondering if "there is any point" at selling at depressed prices.

And in Pompey, New York some mink, beaver and coyote pelts are fetching one US dollar--not a typo--and raccoon and opossum pelts, 25 cents.

Lucky for trappers, many aren't in it for the money but for the fun. Like Stanchfield, MN residents Tim Hughes and Kevin Gustafson who told the Pioneer Press that their hobby of hunting bobcats, raccoons and coyotes with hounds--legal in Minnesota--across over the state is, "Just like the thrill of chasing girls."

Of course photos of bloody pelts and animals struggling in traps have not done much for fur's image.

Neither do stories of the actress Lindsay Lohan being flour bombed in Paris for wearing fur. Or the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame belonging to actresses Sharon Stone, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and singer Aretha Franklin being defaced with "fur hag."

But just as damaging to the fur "brand" is when it leaves its Town and Country context and appears as bling on hip-hop musicians in neon blue bomber jackets.

And as outerwear on homeless people who PETA gives unwanted and donated coats to. (Thanks a lot, Guys!)

Nor does anyone want to look like rusting-in-place Vogue editor Anna Wintour using fur to--admit it!--hide her neck.

Of course the tanking economy is actually good for furriers. For years they've blamed nose-diving sales on warm winters and this year's cold winter--Chicago is averaging 7 degrees--would have called their bluff. It would have shown that the real reason no one will buy a fur is like a cigarette, you can only enjoy it in your own home. Unless, of course, you enjoy standing in the cold getting hate looks from strangers.

Still you'd think if Adriana Furs' Sohrab Tebyanian wanted a stream of revenue from an illegal business that was in plain view of the public and city officials, he would have contacted Governor Rod Blagojevich.

 

Martha Rosenberg is a health reporter and commentator whose work has appeared in Consumers Digest, the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Los Angeles Times, Providence Journal and Newsday. She serves (more...)
 
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