Perhaps, some of you thought, that as he pushes 90, former Bear Stearns Chairman and CEO Alan “Ace” Greenberg would slow down a bit, as people his age tend to do. Retiring from his job at JPMorgan seemed unlikely– he’s only 85, after all– but maybe he’d dial back his time on the magic circuit. Perform old tricks for colleagues, strangers, and friends, rather than new. Just generally not stay up to date on the latest trends in magicianry. Luckily, these baseless assumptions could not be further from the truth. In fact, Ace is sharper than ever, routinely humiliating those half (and even one-sixth) his age while teaching them the ropes in an alley behind JPM HQ. How does he do it? By keeping himself engaged with the upper echelons of the magic community, for whom he hosts a regular salon d’enchantment each month.

We learned about these conventions of conjuring through an interview with Adam Green, who recently wrote a story for the New Yorker about professional pickpocket Apollo Robbins, based on a tip from the Don of Trading Floor Magic. Sayeth Green:

…the idea of a story about Apollo Robbins came from Ace Greenberg, the former chairman of Bear Stearns, a serious magic aficionado who hosts a monthly gathering at his apartment for the best magicians in New York and those who happen to be in town. Robbins attended one of these evenings, during which he delighted Greenberg by stealing (and returning) his Patek Philippe watch. Greenberg mentioned Robbins to my editor at The New Yorker, Susan Morrison, who thought it sounded up my alley. When I called Greenberg, he said, “I’m telling you, this kid is something else.” He was right.

In related news, this appears to be real (insomuch as any illusion is “real”) and vastly underpriced.

How’d you find that pickpocket story, Adam Green? [Nieman]

60 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (60)

  1. Posted by Guest | January 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Hey Ace, you may want to look at the lettering on your Patek Philippe.

  2. Posted by InfiniteGuest | January 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Ahem. Ace performs illusions. A trick is something a whore does for money.

  3. Posted by derp | January 23, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Watch as my integrity dissapears!

  4. Posted by S. Cohen | January 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Can you make old emails disappear?

  5. Posted by BCS MBS Morals Guy | January 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    If he can, and he didn't help us out in all that CDO litigation, well that's just mean and inconsiderate.

  6. Posted by Guest | January 23, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    "Ace is sharper than ever, routinely humiliating those half (and even one-sixth) his age"

    An 85 year old man doing magic with 14 year old kids is (baring a blood relationship) creepy especially when it's described as 'humiliating' them.

  7. Posted by DingALing | January 23, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Now you see Bear Stearns…****…..Now you don't!

    -The Berg

  8. Posted by Gob | January 23, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Bear Sterns Board Member: Why should we believe in you?
    Ace: For the same reason you should believe that a hundred dollar bill… is no more… than a hundred pennies!

  9. Posted by THEBro | January 23, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Or cocaine

    -gob

  10. Posted by Guest | January 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Or cocaine!

  11. Posted by Mr. Frankenberger | January 23, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    From that video on Amazon:
    "Includes archival footage of Jack Miller performing his Ball, Silk And Wand Routine and his classic Egg Bag Routine."

  12. Posted by Broseph | January 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I also played "Magic: The Gathering" but sadly never became a billionaire from it

  13. Posted by Lowly Assistant | January 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    For the next Dealbreaker Reading, can we just pop that DVD in, sit back and observe the sheer regalness of Ace pulling fast ones?

  14. Posted by Texashedge | January 23, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    "Do you think they're strippers, Dad?"

    "I think they're at least strippers"

  15. Posted by XXIst century | January 23, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    DVD ???

  16. Posted by Lord Humongous | January 23, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Pull my finger kid

    - Ace

  17. Posted by Guesteban | January 23, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.

    Lehman, AIG, MF Global, others

  18. Posted by tony wonder | January 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Did somebody say WONDER?!

  19. Posted by Dr. Freud | January 23, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    "Baring?" That's quite a slip.

  20. Posted by UBS quant | January 23, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    I don't get the joke

  21. Posted by Spitzer | January 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Can you make my political career reappear?

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