There had to be a wedding.
And it had to be a grand celebration befitting a Fisher Island multimillionaire who controls billions from Wall Street to Bermuda, from London to Dubai.
So on a sunny June day two years ago, father and daughter exchanged rings at Westminster Abbey.
They couldn't follow convention by inviting friends or family, and they couldn't make an announcement that they'd eloped.
There was no white dress and no officiant.
D. Bruce McMahan, then 65, and his daughter Linda Marie Hodge McMahan Schutt, then 35, pronounced themselves husband and wife on June 23, 2004.
It was their secret.
Except for a few traditional photographs, it was a wholly unconventional and unholy union.
Several shots show off their new Cartier Trinity rings hers diamond, his three shades of gold. In other frames, they look the happy couple cheek to cheek, faces glowing, and the Abbey's Little Cloister garden a royal backdrop.
Afterward, she flew home to her legal spouse in Mississippi and he went home to his compound on Fisher Island, a ferry ride from Miami.
From different states, they traded their wedding photos back and forth over e-mail.
He talked about touching up her redeye. She declared her favorite the photo of their hands wearing their new rings, his hand on hers, which they had titled: "Says it ALL." Using codes, they addressed each other in the e-mails as husband and wife.
"They are great pictures," McMahan wrote in one of their daily exchanges. "But they tell a story, so pay attention to what happens to them."
With their secret still safe, McMahan filed to divorce his fifth wife, and Linda moved out of the home she shared with her husband.
McMahan began spending more time at the plush Fisher Island retreat he'd built for his hedge-fund clients. Linda moved into a nearby condo, leaving behind her career as a psychologist.
Linda enjoyed the trappings of life with one of America's richest money managers, racking up a $74,000 bill at Barney's New York.
He enjoyed lavishing her with jewels, a Bentley Continental GT, and a Versace Club membership.
He put her on his corporate payroll. They celebrated regularly with bottles of expensive Opus One wine.
But when Christmas 2004 came along, they resumed roles as father and daughter. They needed to keep up appearances, for the sake of their families and to protect their secret.
Family snapshots show their return to normal. She put her legal husband's rings back on her left hand and moved the Trinity ring to her right hand.
They didn't know it then, but their secret was safe for only a few more days. McMahan was right: The photos do tell quite a story.
What followed was a breakup on an even grander scale than their wedding and a legal battle every bit as obsessive as each has been about the other.
For more than a year, attorneys have been kept busy in Miami, New York, Mississippi, and San Diego with the fallout over the breakup of McMahan and Linda in five lawsuits involving not only father and daughter but also their legal spouses, as well as Linda's current boyfriend and soon-to-be father of her child. Details of McMahan and Linda's extraordinary wedding at Westminster Abbey and their years as lovers come from court documents as well as Linda's videotaped deposition, which New Times has made available on its website, browardpalmbeach.com.
In court papers, McMahan denies that he ever had a sexual affair with his daughter. But he doesn't explain how his and Linda's DNA turned up on a vibrator that Linda's husband uncovered in her luggage. McMahan also hints that Linda may not be his biological daughter, despite a DNA test he paid for showing with 99.7 percent probability that he is her father.
When New Times began gathering court records and calling individuals involved in the lawsuits several weeks ago, McMahan declined to comment for this article. He hired a Los Angeles public relations firm to field New Times queries. He also made three requests to seal court documents in Miami and San Diego that three judges denied.
Then, on September 13, as this article was being prepared for print, all five lawsuits were settled on undisclosed terms. As part of the settlement, a federal judge in San Diego sealed the files of the California lawsuit and took the rare step of wiping out any record that the lawsuit had ever existed.
Through McMahan's L.A. public relations firm, the parties sent a statement to New Times, describing the matter as a mere "family dispute," and alluded to taking legal action if this newspaper published this article, which is drawn from the information in the court cases that McMahan has gone to such lengths to hide from public view.