Most people who grew up in the early 2000s remember the trucker hats and hotrod-themed apparel from Von Dutch. Hulu’s ‘The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For’ is a three-part docuseries that now explores the origins of the clothing brand. However, the story was never as straightforward as it seemed. One of the people central to the brand’s initial growth, Bobby Vaughn, was later forced out of the company. So, if you’re curious to find out more about him, here’s what we know!
Who is Bobby Vaughn?
Bobby Vaughn grew up on the coasts of Santa Cruz, California, and later, Hawaii. Growing up, he was immersed in the surf culture there and was part of the Westsiders surf crew. Bobby also took part in competitive surfing, but at the same time, acquainted himself with gang members. While in high school, Bobby was allegedly involved in a shooting and claimed to have seen one of his closest friends commit murder. Then, his life turned around after going into business with his mentor, Mike Cassel.
Mike, who had trouble with the law himself, was looking to get into a legitimate business opportunity. That was how Von Dutch clothing came to be. Kenneth Howard was an artist whose namesake was Von Dutch. After his death, his daughters sold the rights to Mike Cassel, who eventually teamed up with Ed Boswell and Bobby. In contrast, a few reports state that the rights were sold to both Mike and Bobby. However, in the following years, Ed left the company. At this point, Von Dutch needed financial backing, and that came from Tonny Sorensen, who became CEO in 2000.
The company soon took off, soaring in popularity, with Tonny bringing in his marketing team. But as the changes happened, Bobby felt sidelined, leading him to reconnect with an old friend named Mark Rivas. In the past, Bobby helped Mark cross over into Mexico after getting mixed up in a fatal shooting. After Tonny bought out Bobby’s stake in the company and fired him, Bobby’s life took a turn for the worse.’
In February 2005, Bobby and Mark had a dispute that turned deadly. A drunken Mark stabbed Bobby with a broken bottle in his face. Bobby then shot him to death and claimed self-defense. A jury thought so too, acquitting him of first-degree murder. Looking for a fresh start, Bobby moved to New York City, New York. However, trouble followed him there as well. He was arrested on a felony gun charge, later pleading guilty and receiving five years probation.
Where is Bobby Vaughn Now?
Once Bobby Vaughn got to Rockaway, New York, he suddenly knew what to do with his life. He went back to what he enjoyed so much when he was younger — surfing. Bobby said in 2009, “I gave up on life, and then I came out here and saw the surf here. I never knew they had surfing in New York City. I got a board and jumped in the water, and I just felt reborn.” When he was about two days away from violating parole, a surfer’s father offered to invest in his plan for a clothing store in the area.
After that, Bobby set up ‘FTW’ with the store going for the tough-surfer and gangster persona. While some locals expressed dismay given his past, Bobby maintained that he didn’t want surfers to become gangsters, adding, “I am anti-gang, anti-violence. FTW is a marketing tool to get the kids interested and involved.” He had plans to use surfing to get children off the streets and hoped to coach them in the sport. Since then, Bobby has kept a low profile. However, it appears from social media that he seems to live in Venice, California.
Read More: Where is Mike Cassel Now?