Jeff Jacoby

JOHN P. WALSH learned five years ago that some people don't especially care for him. He still hasn't gotten over that discovery.

Maybe it's himself he needs to get over.

The revelation that we aren't everyone's cup of tea is something most of us manage to figure out by the time we get through kindergarten. But Walsh, a self-made millionaire and chief executive of the Elizabeth Grady skin-care salon chain, apparently didn't realize it until 2006, when he tried to buy a unit in a luxury cooperative on Beacon Hill and was turned down by the board. Residential co-ops by definition are private associations that choose their own shareholders; would-be residents may not buy in without the approval of the existing owners. And in the case of 68 Beacon Street, a nine-story co-op overlooking Boston's Public Garden, the existing owners concluded -- as they put it in their rejection letter -- that "Mr. Walsh would not reasonably coalesce as a member of this cooperative community."

In response, Walsh embarked on a campaign to paint the co-op's board, and especially its chairman, Jonathan Winthrop, as snobs and social creeps. He told reporters he had been discriminated against because he lacked "blue blood" and "was not of the same social status" as the building's residents. He filed a lawsuit over his rejection and claimed in a deposition that he was a victim of "ancient and archaic values" by a group of "bigoted people." The residents of 68 Beacon Street paid $2.2 million to settle the case -- an outrageous amount of money, but worth paying, perhaps, to put an end to Walsh's vendetta.


Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for Townhall.com.