Skip to main content

What's Eating Chuck Prince?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Gossip rag Dealbook reported this morning that former and current Citigroup chief execs Sandy Weill and Chuck Prince were seen dining at the Four Seasons yesterday during lunch. From the lede, our interest was piqued. Such a seemingly salacious meal begs for answers, does it not? Unfortunately, the Dealbookies were apparently too classy to take a real stab at what the convo entailed, other than asking the crowd,

Was Mr. Weill’s highly public lunch with Mr. Prince an attempt to show support for him in a difficult time? Did Mr. Prince — who has thus far refused to consider dismantling Mr. Weill’s creation — seek out Mr. Weill’s advice?
Or were they just both just hungry?

But, damn it, that wasn't good enough for us. So we decided to ask a hodgepodge of people in the know what, beyond a couple of $34 bison burgers, actually passed through the duo’s lips. Their answers may surprise you.
Dana Vachon, former J.P. Morgan analyst, Mergers and Acquisitions auteur.

Weill: Sometimes I just feel so old and ugly, Chuck.
Prince: No. No. Stop. You're a beautiful, beautiful man...
Weill (dolefully): Uh-uh. I'm so fat. I'm so damn fat...
Prince (reaching across bison carpaccio to hold Weill's arm): That's not true. That's a silly, stupid lie!
Weill (bashfully): Do you really mean it?
Prince: No one looks better in double-breasted with wide-lapels, Sandy...
Weill (hopefully): Oh you!
Prince: No. No, Sandy. You.
Weill: Oh gosh, I feel so awkward...
Prince: You never have to feel that way around me.
Weill: But also...I feel better.
Prince:: How about a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity?
Prince: You know me so well!
And Scene.

Rob Veksler, former managing editor of II online

Sandy: What is foie gras anyway?
Chuck: I thought we were going to talk about Prince Alwaleed bin Tal Alsaud
Sandy: Sure, sure, but first things first
Chuck: Fine, foie gras is, shit, I don't know, some type of duck liver
Chuck: Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it
Chuck: Anyway, about the Prince
Sandy: Dump him. Tell him we can't meet his expectations and Citi will never hit 50
Chuck: He's our biggest shareholder
Sandy: He was our biggest shareholder. This whole financial supermarket thing was a joke, a lark. I can't believe people took me seriously.
Chuck (with a knowing chuckle): Hilarious isn't it. We really fooled 'em.
(Waiter interrupts the conversation)
Waiter: Gentleman, have you decided?
Sandy and Chuck (gazing into each other's eyes): We'll try the foie gras

Tim Sykes, short-seller (or “Hedge Fund Guru” or star of Wall Street Warriors, season 1):

Mr. Weil: I really love that crazy little show, WSW, is there any way we can get a discount if we buy the DVD en masse for all Citigroup employees?
Mr. Prince: That's a great idea, I only buy items at a discount; I hate paying market prices. I'm sure I have a connection or two that can get us a deal.
Mr. Weil: Well, the suggested retail price is actually only $29.99
Mr. Prince: Wow, that actually sounds pretty reasonable. I don't want to miss out if they end up selling out, so maybe we should offer $34.99 to make sure we get it. The entertainment value is so high that I'm willing to break my rules just this once.
Mr. Weil: Wow, Charles, I've never seen you so excited about anything other than yourself before.
Mr. Prince: I know, but it’s just that damn kid, Tim Sykes. He's always so over the top and yet he somehow still provides valuable lessons about the market, too.
Mr. Weil: I agree, I wish he would have taken the job with us when we offered it to him instead of trying to run his own fund from his apartment.
Mr. Prince: Oh yes, look how well that turned out! Well, we're still making organizational and executive changes and I hear his fund isn't doing very well so hopefully we can reel him in. I know he's working on some book deal, but we all know how much money there is in publishing.
Mr. Weil: Yeah, he definitely shouldn't expect to make much money off it. His book probably will just inspire the younger generation and educate people about hedge funds. Hell, I'd even come back to Citigroup if you manage to get him. He might not be able to make us a lot of money, but I'm sure he'll have us all laughing til we soil ourselves.
Mr. Prince: Is that a promise?
Mr. Weil: Yes.
Mr. Prince: To tell you the truth, that would be great, I hate all this public pressure.
Mr. Weil: Well, I promise to take Citigroup off your hands if you get Tim Sykes a job with us.
Mr. Prince: Deal! Let's order. I’m having the chicken.

Maria Bartiromo, CNBC

Did not respond to email inquiry for comment.

Power Lunch, Citigroup Style [DealBook]