asness_batman.jpgIn writing about hedge fund managers and other celebs in the world of finance, sometimes I find myself wondering what these men were like as children, before the billions, and the bitches, and the fleece. I’m pretty sure Ken Griffin carried a briefcase to school starting at the age of 5, and the 12 year-old Jim Simons was a lot like the 72 year–old one we know today– bearded and chain smoking a pack of Pall Malls. Stevie didn’t develop a taste for the finer things in life (fleece) until college, preferring until then to swath himself exclusively in silk. And so on and so forth. But what of Biff Basness? I’ve had some difficulty getting a good picture of the AQR founder in my head. Luckily, a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Scott Patterson, The Quants, sheds a little light.

As a child, Clifford Scott Asness gave no sign of his future as a Wall Street tycoon. He was born in October 1966 in Queens, New York. When he was four, his family moved to the leafy suburban environs of Roslyn Heights on Long Island. In school Asness received good grades, but his interest in Wall Street didn’t extend beyond the dark towers of Gotham in the pages of Batman. Obsessed with little besides girls and comic books, Asness was a listless teenager, without direction and somewhat overweight. At times he showed signs of a violent temper that would erupt years later when he sat at the helm of his own hedge fund. Once a chess team rival taunted him in the school’s parking lot about a recent match.

That’s when things got real.

Enraged, Asness seized his tormentor and tossed him into a nearby van, over and over again.

32 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (32)

  1. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    at TCW i beat someone with a dilly- top that- jeff g.

  2. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Checkmate you say? I'll show you checkmate m'fer!

  3. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    'somewhat overweight'…

  4. Posted by Pfluger the Barbaria | February 1, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    I liked his role in the movie "Watchmen."

  5. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    i hate dis guy.
    -CG (The chess team rival)

  6. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    yeah, right he did. I'm sure a few "witnesses" have been paid to give Biff's some street cred.
    "Chess player beatdown" is like Bunny Mellon v. Anthony Marshall.

  7. Posted by Anal_yst | February 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    you vicious animal liar beth levin!

  8. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    @7 were they the same ppl paid off to tell the reporter CA was a tubby comic-book nerd?

  9. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Scimatar needs to have his own website, funniest stuff ive read on this site, besides Bess of course….

  10. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Wow – that "chess" rival must have been tough!

  11. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    He's 43? Must be dog years based on how he looks.

  12. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Picture him more along the lines of Robin.

  13. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Wow – that “chess” rival must have been tough!

  14. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Wow – that “chess” rival must have been tough!

  15. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    “Once a chess team rival taunted him in the school’s parking lot about a recent match”
    In the words of Ogre: “NERDS!”

  16. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    A reminder: It’s “Dr.” Cliff Asness, …Please carry on….

  17. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    beth, I’m going to beat you against my van tonight.
    -biff

  18. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    “Once a chess team rival taunted him in the school’s parking lot about a recent match”
    In the words of Ogre: “NERDS!”

  19. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Bullshit story. Assness is a punk. This geek has no balls outside his little fiefdom called AQR. There is a reason the whole place is filled with spineless yesmen. Assness’s insecurity wouldn’t let him keep anyone who might challenge him.
    This fat slob couldn’t even walk up to his third floor office without taking a bacon break.

  20. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Hey 10, 12, 13 – Do you think the chess “rival” was tough?

  21. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    @21: challenge. His lutz must require SOME level of athleticism.

  22. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    @21 – there is nothing wrong with a bacon break
    -tribe member

  23. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    @21 tell us more, aqr employee.

  24. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Bacon break – that’s an AWESOME idea. Think I’ll head down to the deli and get me some.

  25. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    This guy is the worst.

  26. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    What were Frazzi’s boyhood pursuits?

  27. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    Van?? Wow, he must have been a real bad-assness. Was it the “Mystery Machine”? No wait, he wasn’t driving until the mid-80’s so that sweet shaggin’ waggin’ must have been a Chrysler Town & Country.

  28. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    we called him “fatty piggly wiggly” on pizza Friday. AQR peeps know what’s up.
    true story.

  29. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    stupid story.

  30. Posted by guest | February 1, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    31 = cliff

  31. Posted by guest | February 3, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    I thought his wife laurel fraser was going to be uber goy when I read she was the daughter of a minister from some corn fed environs, then I got a look at her at Greenwich hospital function….my yiddishah momma

  32. Posted by guest | February 3, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    I thought his wife laurel fraser was going to be uber goy when I read she was the daughter of a minister from some corn fed environs, then I got a look at her at Greenwich hospital function….my yiddishah momma