When Jon Winkelried, former president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, left 85 Broad last year, all we knew was that he’d had some personal “liquidity issues” a few months prior, and was bailed out by the firm. It was unclear exactly as to why he was leaving the nest though many assumed Lloyd and Co were embarrassed by Winks’ inability to manage his own finances and pushed him out. That story’s been pretty much undisputed by Goldman Sachs, until now, in an effort to allow Blankfein to save face. Because the truth hurts LB as a CEO and as a man. The truth is that Winkel-toes had grown “disenchanted” and stopped looking at Lloyd the way he used to. And- and this is the part that stings- there was someone else. A stud. Actually, a bunch of studs, plus all their friends. And they let Winks do stuff to them that LB hadn’t done in years. Like ride them bareback.
As his prospects to become CEO dimmed and burnout set in, Winkelried mentioned to his wife of 24 years, Abby Lipsey, a preschool teacher, that he was thinking of leaving the firm. It was a Friday night in January 2008, and he had just returned home after a long business trip to Asia. Bone tired, he had dinner with her and announced, “I’m just not sure how much longer I really want to do this.”
By the summer of 2008 he knew he wanted to spend more time on ranching than banking. The question of how a suburban kid from New Jersey became a cowboy is one that Winkelried gets all the time. The short answer is that the family used to ski in Telluride, Colo., among other resorts, but grew tired of the crowds and the glitz. Winkelried’s love of fishing took him deeper and deeper into the backwoods of a number of Western states. After a four-year search for the perfect ranch, he and his family purchased adjacent ones in Meeker, Colo.: the Marvine and the Pot Hole, where Winkelried quickly learned to be a near-professional-level “cutter,” a sport in which horseback riders separate one calf from the cattle herd.
In truth, if Blankfein wants to be honest with himself, the signs were all there. Jon started dressing differently. He was started working out. He had all these mysterious receipts in his pockets for harnesses and riding crops and LB knew for a fact they weren’t being used on her. But Lloyd was busy and she didn’t want to face things.
Being a gentleman rancher did not come cheap. In 2003, Winkelried started building a facility to raise, train, and ride horses at the Pot Hole Ranch. In 2005 he spent $460,000 on a stallion named “I Sho Spensive.” He also owned cutting champions Quintan Blue and Copaspepto. He built Red Oak Ranch in Aledo, Texas, to breed and raise cutting horses. (All of his ranches go by the name Marvine Ranch these days.)
Eventually, Winks came clean to LB. And it was ugly. “How could you do this to me?!?” Lloyd shrieked, ripping out her Bloomberg monitor and throwing it at JW’s head. “I’ve been killing myself trying to save this place and you’re out doing whatever it is you do with your slut ponies?! What do those whorses have that I don’t have huh? Is it because they can put all four legs behind their head? You sick son of a bitch. You think I haven’t had offers myself? You think Tim Geithner hasn’t offered to suck on this prestige?” As Winkle turned to leave LB realized she’d made a terrible mistake, got down on her knees in a $5,000 suit and begged him to stay. But it was too late. Winks had made up his mind.
Winkelried went to talk to Blankfein one final time and told him he intended to leave at the end of the first quarter. Blankfein was not pleased. This seemed like a selfish act — leaving the firm during a moment when it was becoming a lightning rod for populist rage over its role in the financial crisis — but Winkelried did not see himself as disloyal. He felt he had paid his dues for 27 years, stayed through the worst of the crisis, and now wanted to figure out his next act. There was some discussion between the two men about the wisdom of the timing of the decision and whether Winkelried truly wanted to proceed down this path. “He didn’t want me to leave,” Winkelried says of Blankfein.
No, she didn’t. And while the drunks calls, the Facebook stalking, and the midnight drive-bys have subsided, and LB has gone through the appropriate break-up stages– weight loss, weight gain-, sleeping with Winkle’s friends, and finally deleting him from her phone, she really has not yet gotten over him. The reason we know this, is because she’s still shit-talking him. Because she still cares.
According to Winkelried, there was no shouting during the meeting in which he resigned, but another Goldman partner told Fortune that the bailout of Winkelried and his subsequent decision to leave caused Blankfein a great degree of angst. “It really pissed Lloyd off because the buyout happened in the midst of a complete disaster and he had to spend three weeks explaining this every day, and it’s hugely embarrassing that he’s got to bail these guys out.” Added another partner, “You really want to get Lloyd going? Ask him about Winks’ departure.”