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Another Hair Raiser At The Hafts


Up Front

ANOTHER HAIR-RAISER AT THE HAFTS

Suddenly, Dart Group--holding company for the feuding Haft family--isn't doing so well. On Apr. 29, Dart's Crown Books unit, the nation's No.3 bookseller, reported a $1.9 million fourth-quarter loss and a $200,000 loss for the year, despite a 15% revenue rise. Crown had posted steady profits since its 1977 founding. Same story for Dart's Trak Auto car-parts chain, where earnings dove 98%, to $81,000, for the year. Dart says that's partly due to opening costs for superstores.

But Haft confidants and Wall Street skeptics say Herbert Haft, Dart's chairman, is choosing now to take these accounting hits as a stratagem in his bitter pending divorce from Gloria Haft, his wife of 47 years. The trial, set for May 23, is in Washington, D.C., where the courts tend to split property 50-50. By driving down the value of family holdings--Crown stock tumbled 6%, to a 52-week low of 17, on Apr. 29--Herbert could more cheaply achieve his expressed goal of buying out Gloria. Neither Herbert nor Dart execs could be reached for comment.

A truce is unlikely. In depositions, Herbert evokes the Bobbitts, stating Gloria threatened to kill him and cut off his penis.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER Mark Lewyn


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