'Hi, I’m Dick Fuld, the most hated man in America'.
It was just after the crisis, and Fuld was making a rare social appearance at a party in the Sun Valley, Idaho, mansion of Jim Johnson, the former head of Fannie Mae.
Business Week reports that the self-mocking introduction, described by a guest, was Fuld’s armor - his way of broaching, and deflecting, the first thought that leaps to mind whenever someone hears his name: Dick Fuld was the chief executive officer who, on Sept. 15, 2008, led Lehman Brothers into the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, setting a torch to the global financial system.
The party was a reminder of Fuld’s old life, packed with familiar faces from the highest levels of business and government, including former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
Fuld owns a $19m compound in Sun Valley, but he couldn’t escape his new status as a pariah. One guest at the party recalls President Obama’s then-national security adviser, Tom Donilon, who owns a home nearby, showing up, spotting Fuld and Mozilo, turning white as a sheet, and slipping back out the door. (Johnson, Donilon, and Mozilo all declined to comment. Through a friend, Fuld said he wasn’t able to talk to reporters.)
Fuld is an exception. After the bankruptcy, he stayed on to help Alvarez & Marsal, the advisory firm in charge of sorting out the mess.
Then he struck out on his own. In 2009 he founded Matrix Advisors, a consulting firm for mergers and acquisitions. In a regulatory filing, Fuld reported that he works more than 60 hours a week there.
He renewed his securities license through a small broker-dealer, Legend Securities, run by a friend, and even underwent a medical exam for his student pilot’s certificate. Famously driven, Fuld gave every sign that he meant to put the Lehman nightmare behind him.
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