Magazine article Newsweek

Obit: Bruce Wasserstein 1947-2009

Magazine article Newsweek

Obit: Bruce Wasserstein 1947-2009

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel Gross

Bruce Wasserstein, the investment banker and Lazard CEO who died last week, is being remembered in the business press as one of the preeminent dealmakers of this era--as a player in dozens of major transactions, he earned the moniker "Bid-'em-Up Bruce." Wasserstein occupied a unique space in the financial culture. But, especially for journalists, it wasn't only for his headline-making deals.

Writers, editors, authors, and media types often find themselves in the same physical and cultural space as Wall Street titans. But scribes and bankers ultimately live in different worlds. There's a huge differential in power, status, suit quality, and, above all, wealth. Most billionaires and writers have little in common. While they may occasionally feign interest, most of the people who make financial news aren't really interested in the schlumps making their way in the word trade.

Of course, not every financial giant fits into that pigeonhole. There are always a few investment bankers who want to be regarded as having done something more than made money, and an even smaller number who want to be intellectuals, like former Lazard bankers Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, Blackstone Group cofounder Pete Peterson, and real-estate magnate/pundit Mortimer Zuckerman. These guys may not regard people involved in the idea business as their peers, but they don't see them as aliens.

More than the aforementioned, Wasserstein was one of those types. And he frequently came across as more New York intellectual than Master of the Universe. The early part of his resume was identical to that of many New Republic editors: he edited the Michigan Daily in college, went to Harvard Law, wrote an impassioned, anti-establishment book with fellow Naderite Mark Green, and spent a year at Cambridge. …

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