Just before Bill Clinton was elected for the first time, Steve Jobs came to my gallery to buy some of the Pierre Joseph Redoute stipple engravings of Roses to hang in his home in Palo Alto. He had bought the property next to him and had recently prepared the soil so that he could have a Rose Garden there of the very highest quality. So now he was interested in acquiring works of art that that were as good as one of God's greatest masterpiece of nature - the Rose.
On his second visit he was told about my idea of approaching Bill Gates to see if he would be willing to make digital images of the one million works of art that we had in all of my galleries. With our stock of the largest collection of Natural History images and maps in the world it was my feeling that it would make an exciting project.
Steve's immediate reaction was visceral. With fierce intensity his eyes burned into me as he told me that Gates was an innately evil person and that no good could possibly come of any association with him or his company. Then to drive his point home he said that Larry Ellison, Scott McNealy and he had approached Al Gore and made a deal with him to attack Gates for monopolistic practices in return for their full support.
Well, what he said came true. After Clinton and Gore were elected, Gates was torn apart by the Justice Department of the United States for eight brutal years.. Not only did this relentless attack affect Microsoft, it made Gates look terrible as a man as skilled government interrogators and Congressmen dragged him before Congress and cut him to ribbons. Here was the richest man in the country being made to look like a geek, a liar and a manipulative bully.
Then Bush Jr. was elected and all the legal action by the US government stopped dead cold. Gates had learned his lesson after eight horrible years and turned the tables on Ellison, McNealy and Jobs by giving his full support to George Bush.
But the damage was done. Gates may be the greatest philanthropist of all time but few people are ever going to believe that his actions were completely altruistic. His taste for battle in the business world has been crunched by his three competitors who had found a way to use the full force of the United States government to put him down.