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Local Man Pines For Catastrophic Injury That Would Have Prevented Him From Making Bad Decisions, Left Him A Billionaire

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If the appropriately-named David Blech weren't $11 million in debt, he'd invest some in a time machine to go back to 1993 and put himself into a coma, to avoid doing the things that put him $11 million in debt and gave him a prison-reporting date.

He was once hailed as the king of biotechnology. In the industry’s frontier days, David Blech was the top gunslinger, quick to draw his checkbook to start new companies or prop up faltering ones….

In the early 1990s, Mr. Blech was worth about $300 million and made the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans.

Now, however, he is about to begin a four-year prison term, about $11 million in debt and mainly an afterthought to the industry he helped foster….

“There’s no question that if I had been in a coma for the last 20 years, I would wake up a billionaire today,” Mr. Blech, 57, said.

Oh, those halcyon days...

It reflects the maturation of the biotechnology industry from its get-rich-quick days, when someone like Mr. Blech, a music major with no scientific training, could make a difference with a few million dollars. Now billions are invested by funds managed by teams of doctors and scientists with Ph.D.’s….

In an interview at his Manhattan apartment, Mr. Blech said he hoped to be remembered for helping to create an industry that has saved lives.

He said his reckless behavior stemmed in part from bipolar disorder, which left him at times feeling invincible and unable to restrain himself.

“I didn’t know how to say no to a deal,” he said….

By the time his probation ended, his old formula would not work. The $15 million or so he had sheltered in trusts for his children no longer went so far. Start-ups could no longer go public just because they had “genetic” in their names. And companies did not want financing from a felon.

A Biotech King, Dethroned [NYT]


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