Daddy's Dog

Saying she's treated no better than a stray cur, the fifth wife of Daddy's Girl millionaire Bruce McMahan breaks her silence

Elena McMahan is disarmingly soft-spoken. She keeps her head lowered as she begins a conversation barely above a whisper. She wears a head scarf that identifies her as a member of the Russian Orthodox church (she's Ukrainian), and she speaks to her two young children, Vladimir, age five, and Elizabeth, age three, in Russian. Elena is slender and has striking blue-green eyes. The children are unusually well-behaved.

In the Brooklyn penthouse apartment she considers a refuge, Elena describes her ill-fated 2002 marriage to Fisher Island millionaire Bruce McMahan.

"The day we got home [from the wedding], he lost interest in me," she says. "I became his dog. He said, If you don't keep your mouth shut, I will take Vladimir.' Then I got pregnant with Elizabeth."

Elena and Bruce in an undated photograph before their wedding. According to Elena, Linda took this photo while the three were at the Ritz-Carlton in London
Elena and Bruce in an undated photograph before their wedding. According to Elena, Linda took this photo while the three were at the Ritz-Carlton in London

McMahan, you might remember from the September 2006 Miami New Times cover story "Daddy's Girl," is a Wall Street hedge fund multimillionaire who married his own daughter. (Through a spokeswoman, McMahan declined to comment.)

Elena's story provides new details about the bizarre incestuous relationship between McMahan and his daughter Linda. The Ukrainian beauty met the South Florida business magnate in 2000 while she was working in a bar on a European cruise ship. Though he was traveling with his fourth wife, Cynthia, he instantly took a liking to Elena. When the cruise was over, McMahan gave her his business card. A few months later, she decided to contact him. Soon the financier helped arrange an operation for her mother, and sent money for Elena to purchase a computer so she could correspond with him via e-mail.

Elena says McMahan began writing her every day. He also called her from around the globe. Before long, he asked if he could visit her in Odessa. After a second visit and hundreds more e-mailed love notes, McMahan proposed. "He was asking my mom on his knees," she says.

For the next year, McMahan fought to divorce Cynthia. During that time, Elena became pregnant. She moved to London and, after a difficult pregnancy, gave birth to Vladimir. Bruce and Elena were married July 27, 2002, at his Pelham estate in New York's Westchester County. Vladimir was a year old.

By early 2004 the couple was becoming increasingly estranged; McMahan, Elena reports, was spending a lot of time with Linda, who had inherited from her father Reiter's disease, a genetic malady that affects the soft tissues, the eyes, and the heart. He brought Linda to Fisher Island to recover from a bad bout with the disease at the Argent Center, a resort he had built there. McMahan and Elena resided in unit 7925, and Linda stayed at number 7413.

But, Elena says, before long, McMahan openly began living in Linda's condo. "He moved in with her," Elena says. "Everybody there knew."

According to testimony that Linda would later give in court -- which New Times reported last year -- it was the most intense period of a years-long illicit relationship with her father. The woman claimed her father wanted to keep her away from her husband in Mississippi. In June 2004, after purchasing Cartier wedding rings, Bruce and Linda flew to London and performed some kind of ceremony inside Westminster Abbey, took photos outside like any other newly married couple, and then began referring to each other as husband and wife in e-mails. (The marriage wasn't legal, but Elena claims McMahan continues to wear his ring.)

Linda testified Elena had hacked into her Yahoo e-mail account to find proof of the affair, but Elena says that isn't true. She claims McMahan had left his computer on, and she happened upon the evidence. "I just clicked the button," Elena says. "His e-mail was open. That was horrible. I was working on his computer. He left it on and it was right there on the screen.

"I knew something wasn't right when he came back from London that time," she says. "He loves to take pictures and show them around when he gets back, and this time he didn't show any pictures."

McMahan filed to divorce Elena, and she fought back by including the photos and e-mails with an affidavit swearing she knew of her husband's incestuous affair (the affidavit is sealed now, but is referred to in other court documents).

Then Linda refused to deny the affair. But Elena relented when McMahan asked her to swear under oath that she had been mistaken. The fifth wife now says she signed the second statement only because she needed McMahan's help to get a green card. Without the document, Elena could have been sent back to the Ukraine. "I protected him to an extent," she now says. "He was making a face like he's a good family man."

Once Elena signed the statement saying she was "mistaken" about the relationship's sexual nature, McMahan dropped his divorce action, and the couple reconciled. But only briefly. After New Times broke the story about McMahan and the lawsuits, their relationship deteriorated.

Now Elena says she's a prisoner in McMahan's big house. On a recent day, Elena drove in her Lexus SUV toward the Westchester County estate where McMahan first began to woo Linda, according to her court testimony. It was there that his plans began to unravel. Elena points out the Russian Orthodox saints on her dashboard, Saints Nicholas, Peter, and Paul. "They protect me from the troubles," she says. "I said to him many times, he has no heart. He said there was nothing for him to do with business in America after the story came out."

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