Skip to main content

Regret, Denial, Bridge, Exile On The Upper West Side: Checking In With The Worst CEOs In Wall Street History

The gang's all here.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

What have Jimmy Cayne, Stan O'Neal, and Dick Fuld, been up to lately? William D. Cohan checked in with the former fearless stewards of capital, who oversaw Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers, may they rest in peace, and reported back for the latest issue of Vanity Fair. A lot has changed for the execs, though in many ways, much has stayed the same. Let's take a look.

Jimmy Cayne is still spending a considerable amount of his time on the bridge circuit, much like he did when he was CEO of Bear. He's still wealthy, just not as wealthy as he once was. He suns himself in Florida and he doesn't remember any of the details re: what went wrong at BSC. No word on his drug use, though it's unclear why a person who regularly packed a bowl during business hours would give that up in retirement.

He continues to be a force in the world of contract bridge. Last October, he competed in (but did not win) the 15-day Red Bull World Bridge Series, in China...In addition to the Plaza apartment and his huge beach house, in New Jersey, he also owns a sixth-floor condominium at the posh Boca Beach Club, in Boca Raton, Florida, for which he reportedly paid $2.75 million in 2010...He no longer remembers anything about the adequacy of Bear’s risk models. He no longer admits to having had anything to do with the decision to close down the two problematic Bear Stearns hedge funds that had disastrously invested in subprime mortgages. He doesn’t remember being notified about problems on Bear’s trading desk, or about Bear’s inability to obtain financing from the market, or the billions of dollars of lethal mortgage-backed securities on its balance sheet.

Dick Fuld is also still rich, and though he doesn't need to work, plugs away at a little boutique advisory shop he set up. Here, Cohan notes, he vastly overestimates what sort of expertise he has to offer.

In March 2009, after helping to unwind what remained after pieces of the company were bought by Barclays and others, Fuld set up a small firm, Matrix Advisors, to provide advice on mergers and acquisitions. It’s an odd role for Fuld, now 68, since during his 42 years at Lehman Brothers he was never an M&A banker and failed miserably in leading his firm’s strategic direction.

Stan O'Neal is miffed about his legacy but you won't hear any grumbling from him directly. He's in hiding in a distant land called West 88th Street, occasionally seen wandering through the whale room at the Natural History Museum.

He is said to feel “bitter” about the way he was treated by the press before and after Merrill’s collapse...He doesn’t much keep in touch with his old friends, and he has moved from his Park Avenue apartment to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “He seems to have retreated from the world,” a friend says.

Elsewhere in "technically not the worst but also not the best" CEO news, Ken Lewis is keeping to himself in a 10,000-square-foot condo in Florida and Vikram Pandit wonders, on a daily basis, what the hell he was thinking taking the Citigroup gig ("I’m sure if I had known that [the crisis was coming], I would have thought about [taking the C.E.O. job] a lot more").

Finally, destroyer of worlds Angelo Mozilo, who more or less told a room full of people that Bank of America was going to rue the day it bought Countrywide, has dived back into real estate and his his spare time teaches a college course called Predatory Lending 201.

ozilo paid $67.5 million and agreed to never again serve as the C.E.O. of a public company. He now occupies his time by investing in—of all things—real estate, and he has plenty of money for such investments...In 2013, Mozilo spent two weeks in Florence, Italy, teaching the fundamentals of finance—at his eponymous Mozilo Center—to undergraduates at a summer program affiliated with Gonzaga University.

Hope to see everyone at the reunion this summer.

Wall Street Executives from the Financial Crisis of 2008: Where Are They Now? [VF]


Only Legacy That Former Bear Stearns Chief Cares About-- His Bridge Playing Legacy-- In Peril

Jimmy Cayne is devastated at the thought of having one of his bridge trophies taken away amid scandal.

Getty Images

Jimmy Cayne Never Wanted To Be A Bank CEO Anyway

He’d much rather be bidding and tricking his way through the deck, and so he is.