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In the closing moments of the third and final installment of the new Discovery+ docuseries House of Hammer, Casey Hammer reads a letter she recently received from her brother, Michael, the father of actor Armie Hammer.
“If you choose to continue pretending that the stories you have invented are the truth, I will have no choice other than to pursue every legal remedy to set the record straight,” states the letter before it changes course. “Despite all the pain your fabrications have caused, you share the blood running through my veins. You are still my family and I wish you nothing but the best.”
The Hammer bloodline is the subject of the now-streaming House of Hammer, and directors Elli Hakami and Julian P. Hobbs use the sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Armie as a jumping-off point to explore all facets of the famous family over three hourlong episodes. It’s terrain that Casey explored in a 2015 memoir and recounted in a 2021 Vanity Fair exposé, so the shock value of the series will depend on how familiar viewers are with either of those or any of the cannibal-themed headlines that have ricocheted across social media.
Once she finishes reading the letter aloud, Casey remains unfazed by the threat of legal action. “My brother thinks he can silence me,” offers Casey, who remains estranged from her relatives. “The way my brother is intimidating me right now through that letter and those words, it’s exactly what my grandfather would do. I’ve let the Hammers control me so much of my own life. It’s time to stop. I refuse to be silenced.”
Casey takes full advantage of her voice over the three episodes — “Love Bomb,” “Sins of the Father” and “Follow the Money” — as she’s joined by Hammer family insiders and Courtney Vucekovich, a woman who had a months-long relationship with Armie that she says left her traumatized and in a rehab facility. Below is a recap of the biggest allegations from House of Hammer, from cocaine-fueled orgies and explosive family fights to all those Instagram DMs.
EPISODE 1: “LOVE BOMB”
• The series opens with an Instagram voice message from Armie to an unidentified recipient. “Hi, buckle your seatbelt,” he says before revealing a wager involving rope bondage, a reported obsession of his. “This is going to be the bet: If I won, I get to come over to your house with my bag of goodies. Inside my bag of goodies, there are several different bundles of Shibari rope; Shibari is the Japanese art of rope bondage. My bet was going to involve showing up at your place and completely tying you up and incapacitating you, then being able to do whatever I wanted to every single hole in your body until I was done with you.”
• There were rumblings in Hollywood about Armie’s alleged predilection for kink, per The Hollywood Reporter senior writer Seth Abramovitch, who appears to detail a 2017 cover story he penned on the actor. Abramovitch says there was “one thing that repeatedly came up” when he told people he was profiling Hammer — that he had “a sort of edgy interest in BDSM sex.” Abramovitch goes on to explain that he brought it up to Armie, but “he shut me down pretty decisively” by saying that he has “less of a comment than if he had no comment.”
• The title of the episode seems to be inspired by the experiences of a Dallas-based business owner named Courtney Vucekovich. She gets the most screen time as she had the closest relationship with the actor, one that started amid the pandemic in June 2020. At the time, Armie claimed that he and wife Elizabeth Chambers had been separated for two years, though they didn’t formally announce a split until a month later, in July 2020. “He would send me text messages and call me every day, constantly,” details Vucekovich. “Immediately he was sharing all these things with me, intimate details about his parents, family secrets.” He also flooded her with compliments. “Between the love bombing and the attention, I felt like this was all perfect, this was amazing. This is what we’re all taught to think of as a fairy tale.”
• While Armie was on a road trip, he stopped by Vucekovich’s apartment building in Dallas. Though she had informed him that she was in the Hamptons with friends, Armie took photos of the building and said he was going inside “trying to find your scent.” He also left a note. “I thought this would be a cute note and it just says, ‘I’m going to bite the fuck out of you,’” she explains. “As crazy as that sounds, I took it metaphorically, not literally. I chose to look at it more flattering than concerning. When I told my friends about us talking, I left that part out. I think that says a lot.”
• Vucekovich details a three-week vacation they took together to Twentynine Palms, a desert destination near Palm Springs. Though she described most of the trip as pure romantic bliss — they hung by the pool, had al fresco dinners and watched movies including the BDSM-themed film Secretary starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader — she claims one experience left her traumatized. “It was something that has never been done to me,” she says of the incident, which she had previously described to Page Six as a sex act. “It’s very degrading and very belittling. I don’t like to put it out there.”
• On another road trip, this time to Sedona, Vucekovich says that Armie used the ropes with her. “I said everything but no,” she says. “He puts on this creepy playlist and just, like, the ropes were around [my] neck, wrists, ankles and behind [my] back. I had bruises. I hated it. I understand that if this is your fantasy, if this is your thing, more power to you. I didn’t like it.”
• Armie is said to have initiated contact over Instagram with a model-actress-artist named Julia Morrison, who also appears in the first episode. She is known for creating a series of NFTs based on her messages with the actor, whom she never met in person. He apparently reached out about a series of photographs that she appeared in, zeroing in on one that features her being choked. When the pandemic set in, their messages got heated. “I’ve wanted to tie you up since I saw those goddamn pictures and messaged you about it,” he allegedly wrote. Later, he followed it up by revealing a “fantasy about having someone prove their love and devotion and tying them up in a public place at night and making their body free use. And seeing if they will fuck strangers for me.”
• Armie was also accused of sexual assault and misconduct by two women with whom he had relationships — Paige Lorenze and another known only as Effie. The latter’s accusations, posted on her House of Effie Instagram account, were the first to emerge against the actor and also the most serious, claiming that Armie raped and abused her during a four-year affair. She retained attorney Gloria Allred, and while the LAPD investigated Hammer, no charges were filed. Lorenze and Effie only appear in the House of Hammer through previously recorded footage, and Allred sits for a new interview. “Kinky is not against the law,” she says. “Rape is.” (Through a lawyer, Armie has previously denied any wrongdoing and maintained that all relationships were consensual.)
EPISODE 2: “SINS OF THE FATHER”
• Casey Hammer, Armie’s aunt, figures most prominently in this episode as she details her family’s “dark, twisted secrets,” stories that she revealed in a 2015 memoir, Surviving My Birthright. When allegations first surfaced of Armie’s troubling behavior, Casey says she was “not shocked. This behavior is deep-rooted.” The rest of the episode features claims of family trauma, allegations of criminal behavior, ties to Russia and the Communist party, and some wild booze- and cocaine-fueled orgies.
“The Hammer name wielded a lot of prestige and power,” says Casey, chronicling how they navigated elite circles and hosted royals like Prince Charles and Princess Diana. “On the outside, we were a perfect family; but underneath it all was a dark world of deceit, betrayal and corruption, and that’s why I’m coming forward now. It’s time to stop the cycle.”
• As detailed in her book, Casey’s father, Julian, brother of Armie’s father, Michael, was at times an abusive alcoholic. “He was always drunk and you just never knew what kind of condition he was in,” she says. During one instance, she claims Julian slapped her mother, causing her to bleed. “As a little girl, when you’re seeing your mom get beat up by your father, you don’t really understand what’s happening,” she says. “He got worse and worse and worse.”
• Casey claims that family patriarch Armand Hammer gathered files on friends and “anybody you dated,” and that he often recorded conversations. “You didn’t make a move without thinking about, ‘What if Grandpa found out?’ I like to say that our lives were like a chessboard and our grandfather controlled all the moves.”
• Edward Epstein, an author and investigative journalist who once wrote a profile of Armand Hammer, also appears prominently to detail what kind of man his subject was, paying close attention to how he treated women. “They served a purpose to him. He always had mistresses. He looked for young women who he could control completely,” said Epstein, before detailing a wild (and previously well-documented) story about how Armand was caught by his wife, Frances, having an affair with Martha Kaufman.
After the indiscretion was revealed, Armand requested Martha wear a white wig and change her name to Hilary Gibson in order to deceive Frances and lead her to believe she was a new person. “What he demanded was control of every part of her life, including her identity. It was all in his nature of a man who totally wanted to control a woman that he viewed as an object, not as a human being.”
• One of the big reveals of the episode comes courtesy of an interview with a woman named Cathe Boal. She says she encountered the Hammer family in the mid-1970s, when she was hired to clean Julian’s home. “He was a real charmer. He knew how to get his way. He was suave. As time went on, we got real close,” she explains, adding that she left her husband for him and they got engaged. “He seemed to be more possessive as time went on. He didn’t want me to have any friends. I was naïve. I thought if I could give him enough love, I could change him.”
Boal offers up a shocking allegation that one night in 1977 while out on a date, Julian took her to a bar, only to pay more attention to the men in the room. “I got jealous that he was flirting with guys and then I started to realize that it was a gay bar. He did not want to leave,” she says. She bailed on the bar and hitchhiked a ride home from a 19-year-old stranger named Gary Bowers. Once Julian arrived home, he was furious and threatened the man with a gun. Julian, who reportedly once got out of a manslaughter charge by claiming self-defense after killing a man over a gambling debt, was arrested at the scene. Boal says his “go-to” was always pulling a gun. “That was his way to get control,” she claims. When it happened again a few days later — this time the gun went off with Boal’s young son in the room — she says she ended the relationship for good.
• Casey claims that her father, Julian, and her brother Michael once came to blows over a wild proposition that the former made. “My father offered my brother a million [dollars] for his girlfriend,” she claims. “My brother, it was like a monster unleashed. They both said, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ and they ran outside. When I finally circled the building, I saw police had separated them.” In the end, her father won out. Casey says that the girlfriend left with Julian “to tame the situation,” and they ended up living together for eight months.
• After Armand Hammer passed away on Dec. 10, 1990, his heirs were apparently shocked to find that he wasn’t as wealthy as they had believed. Says Epstein: “The expectation of his family members was that he was a billionaire, and when his will was read, they realized he wasn’t. He had given away most of his money. They were left fighting for themselves.” Armand had approximately $40 million in cash and had left the bulk of it to Armie’s father, Michael, as the executor of his estate, while Casey and Julian received $250,000 and $500,000, respectively. “I was completely left out. It’s really sad when you realize that you don’t have any family or anyone who loves you,” Casey says through tears. “It didn’t end well.”
EPISODE 3: “FOLLOW THE MONEY”
• The episode opens with Casey talking about a message she received immediately after the docuseries was announced. A friend reached out with a warning: “Be careful. Seems to me that you are opening Pandora’s box. Don’t go out after dark. Always check to make sure you’re not being followed. Keep your name off a mailbox. Unlisted phone. Watch your surroundings for a stranger’s face that appears more than once.”
• While she was in a rehab facility, Vucekovich says that “some idiot” texted her to tip her off to the fact that Armie had a new girlfriend. After looking her up, Vucekovich says that she noticed that Paige Lorenze had posted pictures on Instagram of her body and in some images, she saw bruises. “I knew exactly what it was,” she claims. “My heart fucking sank.” Lorenze then appears in previously recorded footage from an appearance on Dr. Oz during which she opened up about cannibalism allegations. “He said he wanted to find a doctor in Los Angeles to remove my ribs. He wanted to eat my ribs, he wanted to smoke them,” said Lorenze, who details how Armie branded her with the letter “A” during a sexual encounter. “He’s obsessed with meat. I brushed it off, but I do believe that he was serious.”
• An anonymous source only identified as “Armie Hammer’s co-worker” shares several brief stories about his time working for the actor in what sounds like an assistant role. While out with fellow crewmembers and actors, they ducked into a strip club at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday and Armie “forced me into getting a lap dance,” the man says. “I was very against it, I didn’t want to do it. He made me believe that I had no choice. I could’ve walked away, but I was scared of the stature of it all.” In another instance, the source claims Armie was “inebriated” and driving 140 mph on residential streets. “It would scare me like crazy,” he says.
• Epstein says that when Armand Hammer passed away, Julian offered up his private files as a way to get back at his father for cutting him out of the will. Epstein claims that Occidental Petroleum would have remained an obscure company had it not been for Armand Hammer’s questionable business practices. “Hammer was a master at bribery,” he claims. “Armand Hammer would go to a powerful person, he would offer them money and illegal cash bribes, he would deliver the money, and Julian would record the entire crime being committed so he could later blackmail the person. … Hammer had no shame. He ignored all laws.” Epstein continues: “The extraordinary thing about the Hammer family is the consistency of vice over virtue.”
• Neil Lyndon, Armand Hammer’s former political and media consultant, claims that after his boss was convicted of hiding contributions to President Nixon’s reelection campaign, he cozied up to Prince Charles as a way to rehab his image and make “himself respectable again” in the eyes of the public. In doing so, he donated 40 million British pounds to causes close to the royal’s heart. “Charles did see Hammer as a source of funds for everything he cared about.” He says the close ties to important people helped Armand escape responsibility when an oil platform called Piper Alpha operated by Occidental exploded and killed 167 oil rig workers.
• Lyndon doesn’t pull any punches when talking about Armand Hammer, calling him “the most satanic man” of the second half of the 20th century. “Armand Hammer was the embodiment of sin” with a “ruthless” ego, he says.
• Morrison appears again to share her NFT project inspired by messages she exchanged with Armie. One piece features a meme she shared about the wealthiest individuals in the world with her sentiment of “Eat the rich for real nom nom nom.” Armie replied, “100” followed by, “Dibs on the glute muscles and ribs for smoking.” Morrison says, “In light of what’s come out since,” referencing the cannibal thread, she says that she does not find his reaction very amusing.
• Vucekovich says that after the news came out about her relationship with the actor, she fielded death threats and intense harassment from Armie’s “die-hard fans.” Out of fear, she relocated from an apartment to a house and installed cameras. “The ‘Charmies’ made my life hell,” she says. On the flip side, she says that she fielded “thousands” of messages from women who went through something similar. “I was willing to open up about it to help people avoid a situation like this. You want people to be able to recognize these abusive patterns. It changes, you feel good doing it because you are doing it for the right reasons.”
House of Hammer is currently streaming on Discovery+.
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