Before his ouster in 2013, Mr. McClendon built a luxurious campus for the company in Oklahoma City, complete with a community garden, deluxe dining facilities and two parking garages that alone cost $100 million to build.
He acquired trophy assets like the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, interests in a French winery and a $12 million antique map collection. The basketball team still plays in Chesapeake Energy Arena, which was a symbol of Oklahoma City’s revival as a gas hub.
From 2010 to 2013, the company spent approximately $30 billion more on leasing and drilling than it made from its production.
Mr. McClendon was also known to cut corners, which got him and his company in trouble. Chesapeake executives complained of a lack of a formal budgeting process or employee performance management system. The company borrowed money to fund charities and real estate projects.
Mr. McClendon was charged in 2016 with conspiring to suppress prices for oil and natural gas leases. The indictment said he had orchestrated a conspiracy in which two oil and gas companies colluded not to bid against each other for several leases in northwestern Oklahoma from late 2007 to early 2012.
A day after the indictment, Mr. McClendon, at age 56, died in a crash in Oklahoma City after his car hit a bridge at high speed. On news of Mr. McClendon’s death, the oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, who died in 2019, said, “No individual is without flaws, but his impact on American energy will be long lasting.”
When Mr. Lawler, a veteran Anadarko executive, took over the company in 2013 he called his new job “the biggest challenge in the entire industry.”