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Bob Diamond Twitter
[Bob Diamond via BI]

Nell Diamond, daughter of Bob and “HMD” fame, this weekend with dad, pre-wedding.

ubs1When Christie’s auctioned off Edgar Degas’s “Danseuses” for nearly $11 million in 2009, the catalog noted that the masterpiece was being sold as part of a restitution agreement with the “heirs of Ludwig and Margret Kainer,” German Jews whose vast art collection was seized by the Nazis in the years leading up to World War II. But now a dozen relatives of the Kainers are stepping forward to object. Not only did they fail to benefit from that sale, they say they were never even told about it, or any other auctions of works once owned by the couple, including pieces by Monet and Renoir. It turns out that the Kainer “heir” that has for years collected proceeds from these sales and other restitutions, including war reparations from the German government, is not a family member but a foundation created by Swiss bank officials. In lawsuits filed in New York and Switzerland, the Kainer relatives contend that officers of the bank — now part of the global banking giant UBS — never made a diligent effort to find them, and worse, used the family name to create a “sham” foundation ostensibly organized to support the health and education of Jewish youth but actually formed, they say, to cheat them out of their inheritance. [NYT via Matt]

Goldman Sachs Just Wants A Winner

Assessing the cost of the place.Lloyd Blankfein may have a direct line to the Big Guy Upstairs, but he seems to have been withholding some crucial information in recent years, based on certain bets made by GS. That Romney character is not President of the United States, Goldman’s best check-writing efforts notwithstanding, and Brazil is rather emphatically not sporting a sixth star on their soccer jerseys these days. But if the polls are right—and, really, when are they not?—Goldman won’t be backing the wrong horse this time around. Read more »

Irreplaceable.One cannot have a silent fixed-income trading floor. Luckily, JPMorgan Chase—which will not get caught betting on humans over robots again—replaced the humans interminably shouting “done!” with computers equipped with a variety of ringtones to make the same point. Read more »

Opening Bell: 10.20.14

paulvolckerBillionaires and Mathematicians Crack Jokes at the Geekiest Event of the Season (WSJ)
Last week, at a glittering private hall in Manhattan steps from the East River, billionaires and socialites gathered for what one attendee called the “geekiest” event of the season: the Chaos Ball, the fundraiser for the National Museum of Mathematics. But it was also a night in which the nerds celebrated their revenge, as many in the crowd were among a coterie of the most secretive—and successful—money managers on Wall Street. So-called quantitative hedge funds are the squares of the investing world, numbers-obsessed firms that rely more on high-powered algorithms than old-school assessments of companies and their future prospects. These firms, known as “the quants,” are also notoriously tight-lipped about their strategies and their earnings—even among one another…The museum, or MoMath, is one of the few things that brings the quants together. James Simons, the Renaissance founder and 76-year-old former code breaker, was among the early backers of the museum, as was John Overdeck and David Siegel, the co-founders of the multibillion-dollar hedge fund Two Sigma Investments LLC. Other quants in attendance represented firms such as the D.E. Shaw Group and MQS Management LLC…To keep their big brains busy, there were numerous math-themed activities and decorations in keeping with the museum, which sports a door handle in the shape of the Greek letter Pi and a square-wheeled tricycle that rides smoothly over a specially designed curved pathway. Attendees took part in the creation of a fractal—a phenomenon where smaller copies of a pattern are nested within each other, similar to a fern plant—made up of lights attached to a black board and sat on benches that could be unfolded from squares into triangles as the guests mingled during the cocktail hour.

Marc Andreessen quits eBay board ahead of PayPal spinoff (Reuters)
The Silicon Valley pioneer has been involved in a public war of words with activist investor Carl Icahn, one of eBay’s largest shareholders, who convinced the company to spin off PayPal after a long campaign. “After 6 years of service + completed decision to split, I’ve decided now is a good time to step off the eBay board of directors,” Andreessen tweeted on Monday…Andreessen, in an interview to CNBC this month, likened Icahn to an “evil Captain Kirk” and said that the activist investor cared little for the companies in which he became involved. Icahn, in an interview to CNBC a day after, said “Andreessen has screwed more people than Casanova.” He also said the eBay board member had a “high squeaky voice that only a dog can hear.”

Did Bank Rules Kill Liquidity? Volcker, Frank Respond (Bloomberg)
“When I hear complaints about less liquidity, remember there is such a thing as too much liquidity,” Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman whose calls to limit the ability of deposit-taking banks to bet with their own money inspired the rule that bears his name, said in an e-mail. “Traders’ and investors’ sense of an ability to sell anything instantaneously contributed to the excessive leveraging and risk-taking that led up to the crisis.” [...] “It’s a very good thing we don’t have AIGs that are willing to provide lots of liquidity and are buying this stuff now, so we won’t have to bail them out one day,” said Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman who was a co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act. “People felt comfortable with banks taking the risk pre-crisis because they were government-backed. Now they’re not comfortable selling to other players that aren’t government backed.”

SEC sniffing out pot companies for fraud (NYP)
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating fresh allegations that a coterie of financiers has been minting millions as they pump the shares of money-losing pot companies, The Post has learned. Weed-related firms that face the SEC’s sniff test include GrowBlox Sciences, a supplier to pot farmers, and DigiPath, a consulting outfit that trains people how to market marijuana, sources said. Also under scrutiny are Vape Holdings, which makes pot-vaporization gear; and GrowBlox Sciences, which peddles climate-controlled light chambers designed to grow green, glistening dope buds fit for medical use, according to a person briefed on the situation.

Cook’s ‘Sexy’ Shirtless Photos At Chili’s Get Him Fired (HP)
A Chili’s cook in Florida was fired after he popped his top and posed for several Facebook photos in the restaurant’s kitchen, The Denver Channel reports. The shirtless man, who calls himself Justin J Speekz online, labeled the photos “Sexy Cooks Of Chili’s” and even tagged his employer in the post. Two of the photos, taken at a Chili’s location in Valrico, show him lying on a table where food is prepared. Concerned customers quickly discovered the bizarre post. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees restaurant operations in Florida, reported that there were no official violations in the photos because no food was being prepared at the time. But a Chili’s Bar and Grill spokesperson told ABC Action News that “Speekz” was spoken to: “Chili’s clearly does not encourage this type of behavior in our restaurants. We maintain very high standards of food quality, safety and cleanliness and took immediate steps to ensure the restaurant continues to follow these requirements. Additionally, we ended this team member’s employment after learning of his conduct.” Read more »

Write-Offs: 10.17.14

$$$ Morgan Stanley’s Profit Climbs 89% [WSJ]

$$$ Party Planner CEO Now Promising One Hour Delivery of Liquor [ValleyWag]

$$$ Mark Cuban Says He’s Buying Netflix Stock, Sees Takeover [Bloomberg]

$$$ Greek Exit Plan Lacks Backing From Economists [Bloomberg]

$$$ A Dover man who underwent a colonoscopy awoke after the procedure to find he was wearing pink women’s underwear, according to a lawsuit. [DO] Read more »

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That about sums it up.The wrath of Preet Bharara has fallen on former hedge fund analyst Matthew Teeple, who just couldn’t stop talking about Brocade Communications’ plan to buy Foundry Networks six years ago: He called 15 people in one day—among them the CIO of Wyoming’s state pension system—while simultaneously convincing his colleagues at Artis Capital Management to trade on the tip. All of which, he now knows, makes it much easier to catch an insider-trader, and much, much easier to convict one. Read more »

  • 17 Oct 2014 at 4:33 PM

Compensation Watch ’14: Fed Chairs

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 4.32.03 PMJanet Yellen apparently needs to sit her boss down for a frank talk re: how much she’s valued by this organization. Read more »