Michael Steinhardt used to run a $4.4 billion hedge fund that typically returned 30% before fees. He shuttered the firm in 1995 and now he fills his days by outbidding Martha Stewart at rare-plant auctions ("Don't expect to buy much if Michael Steinhardt is there. He buys everything," she tells people) and tending to a "zoo-sized collection of animals that includes zebras, camels and albino wallabies," which he communicates with, and gives better loving to, than his wife.
On a recent Friday...He pointed out the barns his wife had built for the animals and showed off a pair of red-ruffed lemurs, the most recent additions to his menagerie of roughly 200 (excluding waterfowl). Mr. Steinhardt mimicked the low honk of a capybara, a large rodent from Central and South America, wandering nearby and said, "And that's what he has to say!"
As Mr. Steinhardt leaned in toward a barn stall, a white llama named Angel poked his head out curiously. "Hello! Hello! How do you do?" Mr. Steinhardt cooed softly as Angel snuffled against his face.
"'Here sweetie, here sweetie,' is when he's talking to Angel the llama, not to me," said Judy wryly.