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The Eight Most Ill-Timed Executive Vacations Ever

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Those who fiddle while their companies burn.

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Ah, August. Slow, muggy, quiet August. Time to shut down the computer, turn off the cell phone, and head to the beach with little more than sunscreen, a trashy novel, and a set of golf clubs.

Or is it?

The conventional wisdom has it that nothing happens in August. Congress goes on recess (even when they have plenty of work left to do); Wall Street traders head to the Hamptons (at least the ones who still have a job); productivity in corporate America slows to a crawl. Beaches are packed, and city buses are empty.

But going on vacation is always a gamble -- as plenty of politicians and executives have learned the hard way. Just when you start to unwind, some unexpected crisis occurs and suddenly your absence at the office is under scrutiny.




And then there are the vacations with simply horrendous timing, crisis or not. No one exemplifies this better this summer than Robert Benmosche, the newly appointed CEO of the embattled, taxpayer-owned insurance giant AIG (AIG). According to Bloomberg, after just 2 days on the job, Benmosche took off for a 2-week vacation with his family in Croatia.

Sure, he probably already had the trip planned before his appointment. But haven't we all had to rearrange a few things in order to accommodate a new job?

Perhaps he might argue it's a working vacation. It's true that most people don't completely shut down even while on holiday anymore. With BlackBerrys (RIMM) and ubiquitous wi-fi, it's a challenge just to tune out. And if you're a high-powered executive, it's nearly impossible to disconnect, even if you are in Croatia.

But that doesn't stop the public scrutiny. And when your Wall Street firm melts down while you play bridge, you deserve the scrutiny.

And no one deserves it more than the powerful people in our slideshow -- people who have made the art of vacationing a job all its own. Enjoy -- then hit the beach!

If you can afford to, of course.

Editor's Note: Additional reporting on this story by Nico Carbellano.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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