“He was an amazing intellect and human being,” he says. He also received $41 million in compensation for 2007. What made the news so shocking to Wall Street lawyer Toby Myerson was that he had seen his friend four months before, on July 20, at Myerson’s birthday party in the Hamptons. He had gone to Cravath after receiving a joint graduate degree in business and law from Harvard and after a year studying British merger law at Cambridge University on a Knox Traveling Fellowship. One out of 10 was smart, scary smart. (Wasserstein and his first wife, Laura Lynelle Killin, had divorced in 1974, after six years of marriage.) Ad Choices. Some marriages end in divorce. His condition was initially stabilized in the hospital. “First of all, it’s a massive hit to the compensation pool for a guy who contributed nothing. I don’t want to hear it.’”, Such behavior was typical of Wasserstein, a lusty contrarian who fantasized that he was exempt from life’s vicissitudes. They formed Wasserstein Perella & Co., but Perella stayed only five years at the new company—fulfilling the letter of his contract—before decamping to Morgan Stanley as a senior rainmaker. Despite his public persona he was also a very private person. He gave an exclusive interview to BusinessWeek, which put him on the cover. “Bruce and Kathleen had a very, very animated discussion about politics and the present state of political affairs. The groom’s mother retired as a family therapist from private practice in New York. The approximately $7 billion bankruptcy filing was the largest ever in retailing at the time. You lost.’ Or ‘I won. It always had to be adjusted.”, Wasserstein loved to negotiate, even over the smallest and most insignificant things, like what time he would meet someone for lunch, or if they would first meet at the elevator or downstairs in the lobby of the building. Shortly thereafter he was seen squiring Angela Chao to parties, including Lally Weymouth’s exclusive Fourth of July party in Southampton, and to dinners in Manhattan. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 A WarnerMedia Company. “It was very complex. In 2009, Forbes had estimated Wasserstein’s net worth at $2.2 billion, making him the 147th wealthiest person in America. “If you go back over those 30 years, what you discover is he had a significant influence, if not the significant influence, in building three different firms and three firms that were each very different, one from the others. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court officiated in her chambers. “I find that question offensive,” says Georgette Levis, Bruce’s sole surviving sister and the proprietor of the Wilburton Inn, in Manchester, Vermont, when asked to disclose the location. It would be as if one sought to measure the expanse of the heavens with the span of the human hand.… Something vast and powerful and good has passed from us. ... Jeffrey A. Rosen is a Managing Director of Lazard LLC. Despite efforts at supportive care and indications of recovery, he ultimately died of heart failure secondary to the arrhythmia.”. Yet, they remain appalled by how little he actually did—both in bringing in new business and in managing the company—while negotiating for himself one huge pay package after another. It was kind of, well, ‘I won. So Brooklyn would be the logical place for the Wasserstein-family plot, which would contain not only his grave but also those of his sister Wendy, the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright, who died in 2006 at age 55 from lymphoma; his half-sister, Sandra, a senior executive at Citibank, who died in 1997 at age 60 from breast cancer; and his parents, Morris and Lola Wasserstein, who died in 2003 and 2007, respectively. As this article went to press, an informed source, in conjunction with Howard Rubenstein and Judi Mackey, Lazard’s public-relations head, finally told Vanity Fair, “While in a car on his way to a lunch downtown with his daughter Pamela, Mr. Wasserstein experienced a sudden and unexpected cardiac arrhythmia. Disclaimer. The groom’s previous marriage ended in divorce. The mystery shrouding Bruce Wasserstein’s death, last October, at 61, fit the billionaire investment banker’s M.O. She graduated from Ohio University, and received a law degree from Harvard, as well as a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago. Jeff Rosen resigns from German co., seen jumping to Lazard. How could you have done that?’” recalls a managing director. Lazard and Kraft’s other advisers, meanwhile, split a fee estimated at as much as $58 million. (Wasserstein had originally asked for a 10-year contract for $365 million.) After a brief pause, Bruce—always a bit faster and more confident than most of us—answered: ‘And that’s precisely your strategic dilemma.’”. ), But the man Jordan and Lipton described is the same one who in 1995 had his maid pack up the belongings of his girlfriend Lorinda Ash, who had lived with him for three years. During the negotiations, he dared the board to fire him. Mr. Wasserstein was rushed in an ambulance to a hospital in Manhattan. After word of the deal leaked out at the firm, his partners were dumbstruck by his selfishness and greed, especially as they considered him to be well past his sell-by date and even a liability with some clients. “The less people know about you and your feelings, the more powerful your negotiating position will be—in everything. His success in building firms was his success in building people. Then there is the seemingly straightforward question of precisely how Wasserstein died, three days after being hospitalized suddenly in New York with “heart palpitations” experienced in the backseat of his chauffeur-driven sedan, according to a former colleague. He didn’t circulate a lot among the troops, and he had no business. For the people who knew him well he engendered enormous loyalty.”, Jeffrey Rosen, another longtime friend of Wasserstein’s and his colleague at First Boston, Wasserstein Perella & Co., and Lazard, agrees. “Bruce proceeded to launch into a distinctive, long-winded Wassersteinian monologue about all of the different issues facing Slovakia’s privatization program, corporate sector, and politics generally given its recent separation from the Czech Republic,” Grafstein wrote. And the idea that either Bruce’s or Wendy’s admirers might want to pay their respects by visiting their gravesite is not received kindly. (For unexplained reasons, the tax authorities in the state of New York allowed Wasserstein to get away with this gambit.) I don’t really care if you lost. We continue to mourn his loss.” In the pictures for the BusinessWeek article, Wasserstein looked thinner, heavily made-up, and awkwardly posed in his Savile Row suit. But then he wouldn’t allow you to capitulate, so the negotiation cycle would begin anew.”, Myerson thinks all these contradictions made his friend extraordinary. All Rights Reserved.Terms He was put on life support immediately upon arrival at the hospital. He’d come in; he’d go to his office. It never varied, and I had a lot of meals with him, right? It was just a question of how long he would hang on. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. After his death, Lazard issued another cryptic statement: “Mr. Wasserstein had been hospitalized in serious condition for an irregular heartbeat. “He was telling everyone the way the deal should be done from the lawyer’s standpoint, and I said to myself, ‘Holy mackerel, this guy is unreal,’” Perella recounted to Institutional Investor in 1987. “It is a fact that he moved to London. His family is extremely eager to squelch such rumors. Let him go! But many of the senior bankers, who were also big shareholders, found that argument severely lacking. Lazard to add dozen bankers in U.S. - Jan. 3, 2002 NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Star investment banker Jeffrey Rosen, a deputy chairman at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, has resigned, a … It is as though a mighty oak has fallen, leaving an empty and glaring space against the sky where he stood.” (Neither Lipton nor Jordan would be interviewed about Wasserstein for this article. Ken Jacobs and [vice-chairman] Steve Golub,” says one Lazard banker, “and he left all the leadership stuff to the two of them. Wasserstein had left his second wife, Christine Parrott, and their three children for Ash and then summarily dismissed her after he met Claude Becker, a tall, dark-haired French beauty. “When they came and told us this, we were like, ‘Are you fucking crazy? It was caring, but weird.” Larry Grafstein, the head of M&A at Rothschild in New York, who worked for Wasserstein for years at Wasserstein Perella and at Lazard, wrote in an essay in The New Republic how exasperating that aspect of Wasserstein’s personality was. Accordingly, the firm announced that it would take a onetime, non-cash charge of $86.5 million and an additional onetime charge of $60.5 million to accelerate the vesting of deferred cash compensation Wasserstein awarded to other bankers during 2008. (Rosenfeld declined to be interviewed about Wasserstein’s role.). It was their most public meeting since Perella had left, in 1993. Despite the Kraft deal, the consensus among the rank and file at Lazard is that the firm is better off without Wasserstein. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court officiated … Rohatyn had heard that Wasserstein had been out of the office for several months and wondered why Lazard hadn’t disclosed that fact to the market. With stories about Wasserstein’s brilliant rise and the three different Wall Street firms he inspired, including his contentious final act as head of Lazard, the author profiles a master negotiator who made his own rules. So, finally, one day I say, ‘Bruce, look, you’re not going to want to hear this, but I don’t think you’re eating a healthy diet.’ And he said to me, ‘You’re right. “He looked like a guy who had been going through chemo or something.” Inside the firm, the explanation was that he was suffering a prolonged bout of pneumonia. Wasserstein and Perella met while working a corporate acquisition, and within 20 minutes of their first encounter, Wasserstein had taken control of the meeting. It will still own 4.1 million shares, worth approximately $150 million.