We have a winner!
The first big hedge fund manager to be accused of habitual sexual harassment is: OrbiMed Adivsors founder and managing partner, Sam Isaly. According to a scoop from STAT, the most successful investor in the life sciences sector, is perhaps not the best boss for women.
And while Isaly might not be the kind of Grade-A finance celebrity who can really get the news cycle humming, allow yourself a moment to bask in the hidebound and potently pathetic strain of sexual aggression that he is being accused of favoring...
Five people who once worked at investing giant OrbiMed Advisors said Sam Isaly, the firm’s 72-year-old managing partner, kept a set of breast implants on his desk, palpating them like stress balls during idle conversation. He wantonly demeaned and verbally abused female employees, they said.
One woman said on several occasions, she glimpsed hardcore pornography playing on the large screens that dominated the trading room floor of the $15 billion fund.
Really? Was he also trying to get booked on "Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser?" Did Isaly seem overly concerned about "The Contras?" Are there rumor of him trying to take some of the cuter secretaries to a sexy lunch at Windows on the World?
Burke said Isaly called her into his office under the pretense of needing an important document. When she came around his desk, one of his monitors was playing a pornographic video, she said, and he beamed at her stunned reaction.
Does Sam Isaly know that this isn't 1987?
Isaly would embed pornographic images or videos in seemingly innocent emails on an almost daily basis, she said. Then he’d laugh at her revulsion upon discovering them, she said.
He would sprinkle his to-do lists for her with dirty jokes and cryptic setups that would expose Burke to something lewd on the internet, she said. For example, on April 15, 2010, his daily list of tasks included “look up ‘kit kat shuffle,’” Burke said. She ignored the command, knowing from experience where it would likely lead. Had she followed Isaly’s instructions, she would have found that the phrase is a euphemism for masturbation.
We are increasingly aware that most of the behavior evinced by men in power is beyond logic, but what Isaly is said to have done is sad and retro. It reeks of Smith Barney-esque strippers at lunchtime. If Isaly is guilty, it's staggering that no one near him had the inclination or access to update him on contemporary social norms. And that's what seems to be the case here...
What the women may have misconstrued. For instance, they said the breast implants on Isaly’s desk were mementos from OrbiMed’s investment in Sientra, the medical technology firm that manufactured them. When STAT asked about complaints, voiced by four women, that Islaly demanded they cut up and feed him rare steak in front of colleagues or clients — a move they said that made them deeply uncomfortable — the partners brushed it off, saying many in the office have on occasion helped Isaly eat, as he is disabled and at times requires assistance.
“My female student intern assisted me with cottage cheese yesterday,” Isaly said by way of example.
So, yeah. But Isaly's behavior seems pretty impossible to ignore...
For Burke, the final indignity came on Aug. 12, 2010. She said Isaly called her into his office and asked her to retrieve a file from his briefcase. When she opened it, she found a flesh-colored vibrator sitting atop his effects, she said. The next sound was Isaly’s booming laughter from across the office, she said.
And it also seems like his younger partners might be availing themselves of this zeitgeist shattering moment to cut ties with Isaly...
Earlier Tuesday, shortly before the story was published, OrbiMed partner Carter Neild had emailed STAT: “If this article proceeds I hope that you will be fair and focus on the person responsible, not the entire firm.”
Expect that to be the template going forward for any all-powerful hedge fund manager caught multitasking as an office sex monster.