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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

John Gutfreund, RIP

"I knew of John Gutfreund long before I ever met him. Because of his wife Susan and their widely publicized glamorous and bi-continental life both here and in Paris. The Gutfreunds created a social splash that was worthy of reporting for its extravagance and style. Mrs. Gutfreund, a brilliant Francophile, an autodidact of history, society, and the decorative arts, created for herself and her husband, an interesting life hobnobbing with the international world of tycoons, European aristocrats, politicians, bankers, and scions of the lifestyle which she herself achieved. It was said that her husband, a major Wall Street banker, very much enjoyed the fruits of his labors through his wife’s interests and pursuits. I later learned more about him as a businessman when he fell from grace – after a long and financially profitable ascent – at the Wall Street investment bank of Salomon Brothers & Hutzler, later just Salomon and then finally Philbro which acquired it. That acquisition was, in a way, John Gutfreund’s coup d’etat in the final wresting of control of the firm. It was also the beginning of the end of his career because of legal problems which arose  in the trading department shortly thereafter, and he resigned his position at the behest of his new boss Warren Buffet, and paid a multi-million dollar fine. At the time of his legal problems, his reputation as a businessman became more public in newspaper accounts of the matter. The personality profile that emerged was a man who was very sharp mentally and could detect the weakest link in a deal or an individual involved in a deal with a split-second instinct. His personal executive style in presiding could be harsh to put mildly, and could provoke anger and resentment. His resignation provoked great public interest – particularly among his peers both socially and financially, as well as those of us who read those pages in our newspapers." (NYSD)

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