Notorious insider trader who inspired Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko dies

todayMay 20, 2024 3

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Notorious insider trader who inspired Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko dies

Ivan Boesky, who partly inspired the Gordon Gekko character in the movie Wall Street, has died at the age of 87.

The former financier was a central figure in insider trading scandals of the 1980s.

At his peak, he was considered a genius at risk arbitrage, the business of speculating in takeover stocks, and his wealth was estimated at $280m (£220m).

However, the US Securities and Exchange Commission proved he had obtained tips from investment bankers about deals in the works and used them illegally before the information was released to the public.

He went on to co-operate with a brash young attorney named Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Giuliani in a bid for leniency as part of the government’s investigation into insider trading rings.

Working undercover, Boesky secretly taped three conversations with Michael Milken, the so-called “junk bond king”.

Ivan Boesky, centre, leaves federal court in New York, on 24 April 1987 after pleading guilty to one count of violating federal securities laws. Pic: AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett

Ivan Boesky, centre, leaves a New York court in April 1987. Pic: AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett

Milken eventually pleaded guilty to six felonies and served 22 months in prison, while Boesky paid a $100m fine and spent 20 months in a minimum-security California prison nicknamed “Club Fed”.

After Boesky’s arrest, accounts circulated widely that he had told business students at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985 or 1986 that “greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself”.

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The line was memorably echoed by Michael Douglas in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a high-flying trader, in Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street.

Boesky, however, said he could not remember saying “greed is healthy”.

While he usually worked 18-hour days, the silver-haired and lean Boesky also lived a life of opulence.

He wore designer clothes, travelled in limousines, private jets and helicopters and revamped his Westchester County mansion with a Jeffersonian dome to resemble the former president’s Monticello residence.

Three years after his release from a Brooklyn halfway house in April 1990, Boesky and his wife Seema divorced after 30 years of marriage.

Claiming he had been left penniless after paying fines, restitution and legal fees, he won $20m in cash and $180,000 a year in alimony from his wife’s $100m fortune.

He also got a $2.5m home in the La Jolla section of San Diego, where he lived with his boyhood friend Houshang Wekili.

Written by: Newsroom

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