The Last TycoonsEvent offered by:
The Foreign Policy Association
- Wednesday, May 7, 2008
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
300 Madison Avenue, 23rd Floor (at 42nd Street)
New York, NY
- Event type
- Lecture / Panel
Event Transcripts and Video
In The Last Tycoons, former award-winning journalist and Lazard banker William D. Cohan pulls back the curtains on a mysterious world of wealth, power, influence, and raw Darwinian competition and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company.
Robert C. Miller, President, Hurford Foundation
William D. Cohan, Author, The Last Tycoons
Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.
William D. Cohan, himself a former high-level Wall Street banker, takes the reader into the mysterious and secretive world of Lazard and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company. Cohan deconstructs the explosive feuds between Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, superstar investment bankers and pillars of New York society, and between the man who controlled Lazard, the inscrutable French billionaire Michel David-Weill, and his chosen successor, Bruce Wasserstein.
Cohan follows Felix, the consummate adviser, as he reshapes corporate America in the 1970s and 1980s, saves New York City from bankruptcy, and positions himself in New York society and in Washington. Felix's dreams are dashed after the arrival of Steve, a formidable and ambitious former newspaper reporter. By the mid-1990s, as Lazard neared its 150th anniversary, Steve and Felix were feuding openly.
The internal strife caused by their arguments could not be solved by the imperious Michel, whose manipulative tendencies served only to exacerbate the trouble within the firm. Increasingly desperate, Michel took the unprecedented step of relinquishing operational control of Lazard to one of the few Great Men still around, Bruce Wasserstein, then fresh from selling his own M&A boutique, for $1.4 billion. Bruce's take: more than $600 million. But it turned out Great Man Bruce had snookered Great Man Michel when the Frenchman was at his most vulnerable.
The Last Tycoons is a tale of vaulting ambitions, whispered advice, worldly mistresses, fabulous art collections, and enormous wealth—a story of high drama in the world of high finance.
William D. Cohan
Author, The Last Tycoons
William D. Cohan was an award-winning investigative journalist before embarking on a seventeen-year career as an investment banker on Wall Street. He spent six years at Lazard Frères in New York and later became a Managing Director at JP Morgan Chase & Co. He is a graduate of Duke University and received both an MS from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and an MBA from its Graduate School of Business. He lives in New York City and Columbia County, New York.
The Last Tycoons was selected as the 2007 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.