In our long and highly scientific study into the lives of Harbinger Capital couple Phil and Lisa Falcone, one thing we've determined is that Lisa, God's gift to us, is not your typical hedge fund wife. For instance, most of these women would not commandeer a conference room at their husband's office blasting music with the lyrics directing "bitches, throw your hands in the air," citing 18 years of marriage and no pre-nup to mean "shared family office." Most of them would not hire "little people" for their daughters' birthday, or bring a piano-playing pig into the house or dance on a table in view of photographers. In sum, most of these women play by the rules, figuring that's the price they've paid, whereas Lisa lives by the motto "I do what I want."
One of the things Lisa has most notably wanted to do, which her fellow Hedge Fund Wives will not, is take an out of the box approach to fashion. Gladiator outfits? Yes, please. Mermaid Chic? Don't mind if I do. Slutty Peacock? Bring. It. On. And while the fact that Phil clearly loves Lisa for who she is and has no interest in forcing her to act like one of them should be refreshing, some people have still questioned how he is comfortable with these get-ups, wondering if they attract too much attention and scare of potential and existing investors, whose hands must all times. What is the deal here? A profile on Phil in the latest issue of Bloomberg Markets that touches on his early life sheds some light.
Philip Falcone left his hometown of Chisholm in northern Minnesota’s rusting Iron Range in 1980 in the passenger seat of a 12-year-old Mercury Cougar that cost $150. Neil Sheehy, from nearby International Falls, had offered Falcone a ride to Harvard University, which had recruited both of them to play hockey for the Crimson. The car stalled in front of Falcone’s house, and Sheehy had to restart it on a hill while Falcone’s mother and one of his sisters sobbed their goodbyes. “It’ll be all right, Mrs. Falcone; it’ll be all right,” Sheehy recalls telling Caroline Falcone as the car chugged to life and headed east. Phil was the youngest of nine children and had grown up poor. His mother worked in a shirt factory, and his father never made more than $14,000 a year as a superintendent at a local utility.
Falcone rode to Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his feet on the dashboard because Sheehy had packed a skate-sharpening machine on the floor of the front seat, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue. Halfway there, the roof liner came loose and showered the young men with fiberglass insulation that stuck to them as they sweated in the late summer heat.
After recovering from the initial shock, Falcone made himself something of a campus don. Hockey teammates called him “Fashion Phil” because he cared so much about his clothes, Olson says. He had a blue, three-piece suit that he wore often, and he always wore stylish shoes.
Of course! He doesn't object to the outfits because he himself is the mastermind behind them. He has always had a flair for fashion but being a big time investor, can't color outside the lines with his own attire. So he looks to Lisa (aka his muse) to trot out his creations. When she came out of her closet/bar wearing the gladiator outfit he didn't have a "kill me now" moment-- it was more like "I've outdone myself."
The same profile touches on some discontent among Harbinger investors, over the fact that Falcone has "changed the focus of the fund" with the wireless network he's building, whereas "they thought they were putting money into a hedge fund that traded securities that were easy to buy and sell." It will be interesting to see how they feel about the long-term plan to turn the firm into a purveyor of couture gowns.