How To Stay On Steve Cohen's Good Side (Rule Number One: Don't Be His Ex-Wife)

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New York mag has a story today on the hedge fund ex-lover's spat du jour: that of Steve Cohen and his former wife, Patricia, who last December sued Steve, accusing him of hiding "significant" marital assets from her when they were getting divorced (twenty years ago), insider trading and so on and so forth. The article starts off sweetly enough, with how the two met-- "on a rainy summer evening in 1979," at a bar on the Upper East Side. Patricia (she's the one recounting this story to the author, BTW) was wearing "a white camisole and a pale, rain-soaked silk skirt that stuck to her lovely legs." Stevie, then 22, a junior trader with "a trim waist" approached her, and while PC says he wasn't her type, she found his eagerness endearing, and six months later they got married.

We then hear about the unhappy marriage and the even unhappier (twenty freaking) years since the two split, mostly from Patricia's side (though we do get some of SC's perspective, through his friends), plus all the stuff they said about each other in their divorce papers and subsequent other filings. It feels like we're in couple's counseling with these two and yeah, it's as awkward as you can imagine that trust tree to be. He was obsessed with work and moody; she was unsympathetic, unappreciative. She thinks he's tried to buy favor with their children; he thinks he's being generous (when wasn't giving them money she said he was treating them like cast-offs, while the kids with the new wife were spoiled). She feels he should've paid for her abode, but when he bought and renovated an apartment on Central Park West for her, claims to have felt like "a vassal of the wealthy lord," because he kept it in his name (I'm not going to say it, because we're not here to take sides but I am going to think it). Patricia says she'll "never understand his anger [toward] me," while Steve has told people, "She's a terrorist on a mission to make my life a living hell."

So, as previously stated, awk! And yet, from every insanely uncomfortable situation, wherein we're hearing about Patricia withholding sex from her Steve, to the entitlement, to the yelling, the screaming and the pasta with anchovies, there's a learning experience to be found. Namely, how to stay on the big guy's good side. Current, future and past employees, perhaps hoping to learn from their mistakes, take note:

Don't: be such a god damn nag.

In Steve’s view, it would have helped if Patricia sympathized with the strain on him. Instead, she seemed put out, as if his working so hard was self-centered. Steve understood how the market affected him; after the relationship collapsed, he went on Prozac for a time. But he could have used a little appreciation—after all, he was “going to war,” as he referred to his job, for her and their two children. But after work she’d meet him at the subway exit with the kids, as if to say, Okay, your fun time is over. As Steve experienced it, she didn’t want him to be happy.

Do: shut up about the damn pool. He doesn't wanna go in the pool!.

Patricia comes from a fractured family, and she has her own ideas of the good life. She issued dramatic, “evangelical” speeches urging Steve to remember the simpler, family-centered pleasures, like trips to Disneyland or splashing in the pool with his children.

Don't: ask him to change. Understand him. "Get" him. See what SC is all about.

"She pressed him to change. Somehow she’d missed a fundamental element of Steve’s character—she hadn’t realized how ambitious he was."

Do: have sex with him (like this is such a hardship).

By 1988, things were almost over—though, of course, they weren’t. Patricia insisted on divorce, but Steve beat her to the punch, serving her with papers charging that she’d abandoned him and refused to have sex."

Don't: test him, woman.

At first Steve moved out, but then, partly on his attorney’s advice, he returned to their sprawling apartment, with the kind of explanation that would echo for the next two decades. “I had every right to do so,” he wrote in an affidavit. “I paid all the expenses.” Their romance had turned into its mirror image. Steve now took some pleasure in Patricia’s discomfort, though she pushed his buttons, too. As he wrote, “She well knows how to do [that].” There’d even been a fight; Steve hit her, she says. “The one physical confrontation we had during this entire period was provoked by [Patricia],” Steve wrote. “Although she called the police, it was not necessary that she do so.”

Do: get a damn job.

The divorce was a disaster, too. Steve gave Patricia $1 million in cash and their East End Avenue apartment, which he considered more than fair. He’d first declared his net worth at $16.9 million, according to a July 1, 1988, disclosure. Later, he wrote off $8.75 million of that as a bad real-estate investment—one focus of Patricia’s lawsuit—and recalculated his worth at $8.2 million. Thus, he later wrote, Patricia got more than half, a figure arrived at by valuing their East End apartment at $3.8 million. As for monthly support, he first agreed to $3,730 for the kids and household costs (plus he paid for camp and school and other expenses). All told, in 1990, he spent $125,619.30 on Patricia and the children. It’s a measly sum compared to his income—$4.3 million in 1989, according to a copy of his income-tax statement, and nearly $12 million the year before. But Steve thought that he had more than met his obligation. He wasn’t required, and he certainly wouldn’t volunteer, to pay for “spousal maintenance.” He suggested Patricia get a job, perhaps as a general contractor, for which she’d shown an aptitude in selling their seven other properties. Or maybe she should write that script she’d talked about.

Do: laugh at his jokes, or he'll kill you (that was a joke: LAUGH.).

[Steve met his new wife,] Alexandra Garcia through a dating service—she was the only one of twenty women who responded to his invitation. “She’d always wanted to marry a millionaire,” a friend told BusinessWeek, though she also saw Steve’s other charms. She thought he was the funniest person she’d ever met. (Steve took note: Patricia had found his sense of humor stupid.) Alex didn’t want to change Steve; she wanted to be with him. “The day we met I knew I was going to marry him,” she later said.

Do: know his favorite foods.

These days, Alex helps give away millions to charity, shows up at events on Steve’s arm. Still, she wears Gap and drives to Costco, alert to bargains. And she takes care of her man. She doesn’t complain that he works too much; she lauds his devotion to their kids. If he has a bad day at work, she cooks his favorite meal, pasta with anchovies.

Don't: ask him to buy you a place and then bitch about it.

[In 2002] he got Patricia a 2,340-square-foot three-bedroom on Central Park West, renovated it for her, whatever she wanted. But Patricia had to move out during the renovation, and she felt evicted. To add to her sense of injury, Steve and his new wife, Alexandra, whom he married in 1992, kept the title in their name, giving her a $1,471.49-a-month lease in perpetuity. In Steve’s mind, it was for her own good. That at least kept her from mortgaging the place and running through the money and ending up homeless. In Patricia’s eyes, it also kept her subservient, a vassal of the wealthy lord, where once they’d been equals. His so-called generosity enraged her.

Do: get yourself a BlockBuster membership.

In a March 22, 2002, letter from his attorneys Bronstein Van Veen, Steve told her that he will only pay for his kids’ “books required specifically in the course syllabus,” adding, “You will be expected to provide the syllabus.” His daughter, a film student at the time, was warned not to buy movies if they could be rented. And then, on June 24, 2002, a letter states, “Mr. Cohen has previously requested and wishes to reiterate that requests should not come directly to him from the children,” as if that would make him uncomfortable."

Don't: let your mother claim he's not a Daddy Warbucks in his own right. He's Warbucksing it up all over the place.

"There were years he gave Patricia’s daughter a $100,000 stipend—in 2005, it was $123,000. But a sense of deprivation is deeply ingrained in the kids. The daughter doesn’t even tell anyone that her father is a billionaire. She doesn’t have the money to show for it, so what’s the point?"

Don't: take a bite of his hand, no matter how cute and nom-nom-nom-alicious it may be.

In March 2006, Patricia saw a 60 Minutes segment about her ex-husband that she says finally opened her eyes..And it launched her on an obsessive three-year search into Steve’s business past, involving dozens of calls and tracking down her former husband’s business associates. In short order, a warning came. Steve planned to continue paying Patricia $9,000 a month, though he would no longer legally owe her a thing. But her snooping had gotten back to him. In October 2007, Patricia says, a message was conveyed through her son: Patricia “should not bite the hand that feeds [her].”

Do: cut his face out of all the old photos you've saved, take up yoga, fuck a younger man, whatever you have to do to LET IT GO. [Wasn't mention in the story, just a suggestion]

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