I became restless at Milbank after only a couple of years. Although assured that my work was most acceptable, and having logged among the top amount of chargeable hours, I really wasn’t having “fun” and didn’t see the rest of my life being spent in and around the law offices. “Making Partner” – the ultimate goal of a law street law firm associate – just didn’t ring my chimes. Sure, it would be a great recognition of one’s ability to deal with the issues that some at least thought really important (at least to well-heeled clients), and provide what seemed to be more-than-adequate compensation. Balancing that (to my observation) would be a commitment for 60-80 hours a week; putting family in a secondary capacity; and being patient as you aged and became more experienced so as to move up the pecking order. There was also an element of office politics – having the right “rabbi” (sponsor/mentor) and not treading on any toes. A final element was (is) how much business one could bring into the firm.
While pondering this “un-balanced sheet,” Marshall Rose, a law-school friend and study-partner, with whom I had kept in touch, and who we saw socially from time-to-time, called me and asked if I’d like to explore coming to work with him at a subsidiary of Lazard Freres. Through the smoke and mirrors, I was intrigued with the real estate development potential that seemed to be a driving force of the operation. I was also intrigued by the perceived persona of Disque Deane, George Ames, and those sitting in the executive offices and enjoying the firm dining room. Speaking of which, I think I got to “dine” there only once or twice. The chef produced amazing things and I got to see how “they” did business – at least over pheasant under glass. This private dining room way of doing business somehow smacked (and still smacks) of a test of priorities and integrity. The discussions currently underway about the privileged few, the practices of Wall Streeters, the ‘have’s,’ and ‘have-nots’ do lead to a questioning of the practices that continue.
When I taught “Social Responsibility of Businesses” at Cazenovia College to seniors, I had no problem finding for each class session write-ups from the current news about situations that were prime examples of how the legal and ethical paths that have been hued out for businesses and those working for and advising corporations was not the path being followed by more and more of the players. I was to experience some of the pluses and some of the minuses with such standards in my time at Lazard/Longstreet.
So who were the players at Lazard Freres/Longstreet that I had the most interface with and how did their lives reflect The Grand Manner? First, let’s look at the background of Lazard and what path the firm and its leaders followed. Lazard's origins date back to 1848 when the founders, Alexandre Lazard, Simon Lazard, and Elie Lazard, three brothers from Lorraine, France moved to the United States and formed Lazard Frères & Co. as a dry goods business in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a combined contribution of $9,000. Shortly thereafter, the Lazard brothers moved to the gold rush town of San Francisco, California, where they opened a business selling imported goods and exporting gold bullion. The business progressively became involved in financial transactions, first with its retail clients and then increasingly with commercial clients.
Over time, the operation expanded into the banking and foreign exchange businesses. Seeking to expand operations to Europe, the Lazard brothers opened offices in Paris and London in 1858 and 1870, respectively. By 1876, Lazard's businesses had become solely focused on providing financial services. In 1880, Alexandre Weill, the founding brothers’ cousin, assumed control of Lazard. Noted philanthropist George Blumenthal rose to prominence as the head of the U.S branch of Lazard Frères and was a partner of Lazard Frères in France.
In 1925, André Meyer joined Lazard in France. An early success was when he organized SOVAC (Societé pour la Vente à Crédit d'Automobiles), a finance company that in the late twenties introduced the concept of automobile financing for consumers, It made Lazard Frères a significant force in consumer credit as well as in product leasing. Married with two children, Meyer and his family were forced to flee France following the Nazi occupation during World War II. He came to Lazard Frères' New York City office with Chairman Pierre David-Weill (1900-1975) and following the Allied Forces liberation in 1944, David-Weill returned to France and Meyer was appointed head of the American operations, a position he would occupy for the rest of his life. David Rockefeller called André Meyer "the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world." Meyer was regarded as one of the most important people in American business with an influence that extended around the globe. Known as "The Picasso of Banking," he introduced innovative financing techniques to post-War American business. During the 1960s, Meyer was responsible for making Lazard Frères the top mergers and acquisitions (M&A) firm in the U.S. He put together prodigious deals through leveraged buyouts for companies such as International Telephone & Telegraph Company (ITT) who grew to become the ninth largest industrial corporation in the United States. Personally publicity-shy, Meyer was a behind the scenes advisor to the Kennedy family and a lifelong friend and advisor to Jackie Onassis. He was a friend and advisor to other high-profile public figures such as William Paley at CBS and Katharine Graham at the Washington Post. He was also a close confidant of U.S, President Lyndon Johnson, consulting at the Oval Office several times a year during Johnson's tenure. An avid collector of art objects, Meyer's eclectic assemblages included paintings by Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso, sculptures, Louis XIV furniture, and original music scores. In 1961, he gave artwork to Museum of Modern Art in New York, including a major work by Paul Cézanne. Following his death, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired his collection of 19th century European art.
My interaction with Meyer was limited and more anecdotal. I got to ‘know’ him primarily from the discussions and characterizations of those with whom and for whom I worked. I did meet him several times, perhaps once or twice one on one. Other times with one or more of the partners I worked for. He was self-confident, direct, clearly knew what he wanted and was unwilling to accept anything less. He was held as a quasi-saint by all I encountered at Lazard, a saint to be feared. During almost 40 years in the United States, Meyer never could shake the feeling of being an emigre in American society and he never lived anywhere but in a hotel. According to Felix Rohatyn, who joined Lazard in 1949: ''He wanted to be able to go downstairs on any day and check out and leave - to just shut the door, turn in the key, pick up his airplane ticket, and go.'' Because of his penchant for secrecy, he rarely wrote a memo or a letter, preferring to scrawl answers on other people's memos or to deal with people face to face or on the telephone.
On a number of occasions I would hear of my seniors being summoned in the middle of the night to Meyer’s suite at the Plaza Hotel – usually to be dressed down for some omission or action that didn’t fly with him. He did impart fear into people who were successful multi-millionaires in the firm. In an article in the NY Times, October 16, 1983, Robert Likachman noted: “Whatever the quality and intensity of his psychic distress, Meyer was an undisputed virtuoso at inflicting anguish on others, among them his wife, Bella, who was wounded by his frequent semipublic affairs with glamorous women; the children and grandchildren he tyrannized; and his long-suffering partners. Meyer made his partners rich but at a high price. He berated them in public, summoned them to early morning Monday meetings, insisted that they be available every day around the clock, interfered with vacations, cross-examined them on the smallest details of their activities and reserved to himself the right, at any time, for good, bad or no reason, to fire his ‘partners.’'
Several books have chronicled the life and times of Andre Mayer, including The Public and Private Andre Meyer By Edwin McDowell, published: October 9, 1983 and Financier: The Biography of Andre Meyer, by Cary Reich. William Morrow & Company, N.Y. ''Life is a discipline,'' Andre Meyer used to admonish his colleagues. And Meyer was the ultimate practitioner of what he preached. Until his retirement in 1977, he worked from four or five each morning until seven in the evening, then began his nightly round of social events with the biggest names in international finance, industry and society. ''Those seemingly social evenings and weekends were actually devoted to the accumulation of information and contacts that were vital lubricants of his business,'' writes Cary Reich in his book Financier: The Biography of Andre Meyer, William Morrow & Company, N.Y.
Despite David Rockefeller’s characterization of Meyer as ''the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world,'' and such accomplishments as buying Avis for a virtual song and selling it at a huge profit a few years later to ITT; building up Warner- Lambert, and working his financial magic on Holiday Inns and Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals, Reich adds the words “duplicitous, schemer, vindictive, cynical, opportunistic, greedy and bully” to his description of Andre Meyer.
André Meyer, called "the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world" by David Rockefeller, became one of the most important people in American business with an influence that extended around the globe. Known as "The Picasso of Banking," he introduced innovative financing techniques to post-War American business. During the 1960s, (when I worked there) Meyer was responsible for making Lazard Frères the top mergers and acquisitions (M&A) firm in the U.S. He put together prodigious deals through leveraged buyouts for companies such as International Telephone & Telegraph Company (ITT) who grew to become the ninth largest industrial corporation in the United States. Although he personally was publicity-shy, André Meyer was an advisor to the Kennedy family and a lifelong friend and advisor to Jackie Onassis. He was a friend and advisor to other high-profile public figures such as William Paley at CBS and Katherine Graham at the Washington Post. He was also a close confidant of U.S, President Lyndon Johnson, consulting at the Oval Office several times a year during Johnson's tenure.
An avid collector of art objects, Meyer's eclectic assemblages included paintings by Claude Monet, and Paul Cezanne. He contributed artwork to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Following his death, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired his collection of 19th century European art. Meyer maintained a vacation home in Crans-sur-Sierre, Valais, Switzerland and, while there in the summer of 1979, he fell ill and died of circulatory problems. of Paris, France.
Perhaps his life could be summed up with what he is quoted to have said toward the end of his lif to his granddaughter, Marianne, ''Did I ever trust anyone? No. But I wish I could have.''
My direct ‘boss’ at Lazard Freres was Disque Deane. Technically, I worked for a subsidiary called Longstreet Corporation and this was a part of Lazard. George Ames was also very involved with the operations of our unit. Disque was very outgoing and supportive, and he expected ‘us’ to understand our jobs, do them well, and keep our focus on what was assigned – basically to make deals.
A lot of what I did involved some basic legal work (setting up holding corporations, keeping them viable, reviewing contracts and documents). I was also involved with getting financing for projects that involved the purchase of things like gas stations on corners and routes where they might end up being condemned and hence get good eminent domain compensation, as well as packages for various real estate acquisitions. I worked also with putting together investments in such things as Motel Six (with United Airlines). Besides working on investment packages, I did get involved with negotiations for land to be developed for shopping centers; and some other financing. A real bad taste still comes back when I think of working with a trucking company in Bayonne, New Jersey that, frankly, smacked of less than straight operations. That rose my hackles and thoughts about being involved with things that were just about making money and that just smelled rotten.
A part of my job was to be ready to take off on a very short notice to meet with clients wherever. Sometimes I got to ’hang out’ a bit or at least enjoy a good meal or two. Of memory is Antoine’s in New Orleans while there looking at securing a site for a shopping center; flying first class with United Airlines brass to look at motels in Arizona, and a quick trip to Paris mostly as a courier. I’ll leave the lure of Bayonne, N.J. to your imagination.
At Longsteet, which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lazard Freres, we were housed in a large room with desks cheek-to-jowl with each other. Listening to your neighbor’s phone operations was unavoidable. I was very impressed with my desk-mate Marshall Rose (see below) who as said above, was a law school classmate and who persuaded me to join this operation. In retrospect, it was often exciting with the pressure on to make deals and -- when they were made - having a very short celebration and quickly on to the next one.
My first formal wine-tasting was at the invitation of Disque. It was in an oak paneled room at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. We were arrayed around a large table with linen tablecloth and crystal goblets stacked in front of us. Silver spittoons were on the floor next to each chair.
A variety of ‘clearing the palete’ items were placed around the table. A sommelier with several impressive medals around his neck introduced bottle after bottle of wine. Samples were poured by white coated waiters.
After sniffing, rolling the liquid around one’s mouth after a good inhale, the wine was then (elegantly as possible) spit into the spittoons. . . . NOT by me! I was there to enjoy the wine and just sniffing and rolling didn’t fully compute for me. Needless to say, I left quite buzzed . . . and impressed. Was this the good life that all the hard work and less than being fully straight and honest in one’s work would result? Was money the bottom line? Was this the ‘success’ that my mother kept harping on and, on occasion criticizing my father about? I truly wondered and then made a choice.
Disque D. Deane (July 6, 1921 - November 8, 2010) is known as a prominent American financier and investor. After Stuyvesant High School in Brooklyn, he graduated from Duke University. He then attended the U.S.M.S. United States Navy Officer Training School . He married his first wife, Anne Shepard Delafield, in 1945. They had a son, Hare Delafield Deane born in 1949 and then divorced in 1950. He married his second wife, Marjorie Angele Schlesinger, Chairman and Publisher of the Tobe Report in 1952. They had four children. Deane married his third wife, Carol Woodin Gram in 1991. They had two children. After moving to Boston, he died at the age of 89 on November 8, 2010, at his home there due to pneumonia.
Deane’s sojourn at Lazard from 1963 to 1978 was highlighted by his revolutionizing aspects of corporate finance by pioneering sale-leaseback transactions. With Andre Meyer he was a founder of, and a general partner in Starrett City Associates in 1972, which financed and developed a Starrett City in Brooklyn. Starrett City is a 5,881 unit model community in Brooklyn, New York. The financing was restructured so that investors could benefit from a partnership that combined equity investments from private banks, state agencies and loans from federal housing authorities. The Community, which opened in January, 1974, has its own shopping center, newspaper, power plant and security force. It is the largest and most successful affordable housing community in the United States. Starrett City’s name was changed in 2002 to Spring Creek Towers, though it remained known as Starrett City. In 2006 and 2007, at the top of the real estate market, Deane and his partners twice tried to sell the vast property, much to the chagrin of tenants, housing activists and many public officials who feared that long-term residents would be replaced by new tenants paying higher rents. City, state and federal officials subsequently struck a deal to refinance the complex, enabling it to remain affordable to poor and working-class New Yorkers while the partners made an estimated $200 million profit.
Disque was a founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Corporate Property Investors, the largest private REIT prior to its acquisition by Simon Property Group in 1998. The company built a number of shopping centers, including the Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island, the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Mass., and Lenox Square in Atlanta. One transaction of note was the sale of the General Motors Building to Donald Trump and Conseco Insurance for $878 million in 1998. Other positions held by Disque included Chairman of The Deane Group, private merchant bankers, and Bolfarm S.R.L, a large Bolivian industrial agricultural company. Deane held senior positions and directorships at Eastman Dillon Union Securities, RCA Corporation, and Sun Chemical.
Beyond real estate, Disque believed in education and medical research. He supported primary and secondary schools as well as universities. He established the Deane Laboratories in Neurobiology at Duke University and was the Chairman of the Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a Trustee at the Linus Pauling Institute, Rockefeller University and Duke University.. He is survived by his wife, Carol and their two children, Anne and Carl, and his children by his deceased wife, Marjorie Schlesinger Deane: Marjorie Swain, Kathryn Deane, Disque Deane, Jr. and Walter Deane. He has seven grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
At Rockefeller University, Disque was a member of the Board of Trustees (1987 to 1990), focusing his efforts as a visionary leader in the effort to advance AIDS research, supporting early on HIV research conducted by Ralph Steinman and the late Zanvil Cohn. Along with his wife, Carol, Disque also generously launched an innovative research program at Rockefeller in neuroimmunology and inflammation, directed by Dr. Karen Bulloch.
Through Disque’s generosity and foresight, Massachusetts General Hospital created the nation's first multi-specialty institute dedicated to the prevention and treatment of atrial fibrillation and one of its most devastating complications – stroke. The Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke at MGH was established as a one-of-a-kind research and education institute whose primary goals are to:
Pinpoint the genetic roots of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and embolic stroke in AF.
Determine the genetic basis for stroke in patients with AF who are predisposed to develop this complication.
Identify patients who are at high risk for intracerebral hemorrhage, a feared complication of anticoagulation therapy used to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF.
Develop new devices for treating AF without drugs and for preventing stroke in patients with AF.
Educate primary care physicians and other caregivers in the diagnosis and treatment of AF.
Train a new generation of physicians in neuro-cardiology.
Disque kept a stuffed white Alaskan timber wolf in his office as “a reminder,” that you should always keep your organization lean and hungry. A wolf also adorned the letterhead of his company, Corporate Property Investors, symbolizing both his lone wolf approach to investing and the dog-eat-dog world in which he operated. “He was a very tough negotiator,” Donald J. Trump, a partner in the Starrett City complex, said, “but an amazing real estate mind.” Given Trump’s characterizations of so many others during his Presidential campaign, that is more than faint praise!
George J. Ames: Financier and Philanthropist
George Ames '37 at the 2000 John Jay Awards Dinner.
For most New Yorkers, George J. Ames '37 was known for his long association with the investment firm of Lazard Frères & Company, where he worked for more than 60 years and for whom he engineered some
George Joseph Ames was born in 1917 in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan's West Side. As an antidote to that tough environment, Ames's mother sent him to the nearby Hartley House, a settlement agency on West 46th Street, for violin lessons. Ames's time at Hartley House proved to be a pivotal experience, for the institution helped Ames land a scholarship to the Fieldston School in the Bronx, which in turn helped him land a scholarship to Columbia College. (The violin lessons weren't wasted either: Ames became an accomplished amateur and later played with a local orchestra in Westchester County.)
Ames's decision to join the investment firm of Lazard Frères in 1937 was largely pragmatic. "In the summer of 1937, getting a job doing anything was not so goddamn easy. The truth of the matter is that this firm was one of the few which were in the process of hiring anybody at that point" Ames was quoted as saying. His starting pay was $80 per month. While learning his trade in Lazard's new corporate finance division, Ames enrolled at Fordham Law School, because Columbia didn't offer night courses. In 1941, he married the former Marion Patterson (Barnard '37), who he met while they were both studying law at Fordham. Ames graduated in 1942 and passed the bar, but never actually practiced law. After Fordham, he spent four years in the Navy on a destroyer escort in the South Pacific, returning to Lazard after the end of World War II.
Although he worked in the firm's corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions divisions, Ames made his mark in the rough and tumble New York real estate market under the tutelage of Andre Meyer, who is credited with moving Lazard Frères into the field after World War II. Ames played a key role in Lazard's 1951 purchase of the 850,000 acre Matador Ranch in Texas, the firm's first significant real estate transaction. He was part of groups that owned such landmarks as the Chrysler and Graybar Buildings in Manhattan and L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C., [ L’Enfant Plaza was to be an important factor in my life and career] and was a participant in several complicated real estate transactions that Lazard undertook with noted Manhattan developer William Zeckendorf.
John O'Herron, a general partner at Lazard, confided that Ames was "a quintessential investment banker. He has just enough ego to be confident of his judgment, but not so much that he has to see his name in the paper." Ames needed that confidence in his work with Meyer, who once brusquely fired him via telephone because Ames wouldn't cut short a family vacation. Ames, who recounted the story in Cary Reich's biography of Meyer, Financier (1983), simply returned to work after his trip. Meyer "chewed me out for various things I hadn't done" but never mentioned the firing, he told Reich. Ames said he "never paid any attention to it." In 1957, Ames became a general partner at Lazard, a position he kept for 30 years. In 1988, at age 70, he withdrew much of his capital from the firm and cut back on his duties, becoming a limited managing director.
Ames's moral authority within the firm was unique. According to William Loomis, Lazard's CEO, Ames was "a student of the discipline of investment banking" and became "an adviser to advisers" within the firm. Ames, Loomis said, possessed a "self-sufficiency fueled by generosity" and an unyielding commitment to high standards. "He would not bend except to the considerations of good judgment."
Ames's success as a financier gave him the opportunity to become a philanthropist. Columbia was a major beneficiary of his wisdom and support. He served on the University Alumni Advisory Board and received the Alumni Federation Medal in 1990. He also was a longtime member and chair emeritus of the College's Board of Visitors. As chairman of the board from 1989 to 1996, Ames worked to ensure the College's unique position within the University, leading the board to insist that the University preserve the College's distinctive structure and education, especially the Core Curriculum.
Dean Austin Quigley has praised Ames as one of the alumni who helped lead the fight to preserve need-blind admissions and full-need support for promising students at a time when both policies were under increasing financial strain. "The College is a much better place for students and faculty alike as a consequence of his efforts,"
Remembering his Fieldston days, Ames was a staunch supporter of the Ethical Culture Schools. He was president of the Andre and Bella Meyer Foundation, served on the Citizens' Housing and Planning Council, and chaired the Louis August Jonas Foundation. He also was a trustee of New York Medical College, a member of the advisory board of St. Vincent's Hospital in Westchester, a director of the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund, and a trustee and treasurer of the Hartley House, which had been so important to him in his youth.
Marshall RoseBottom of Form MarsahM
I went to law school at NYU School of Law with Marshall Rose. He was not in my Root-Tilden Scholars group and we formed a pretty close relationship nonetheless. Marshall and I formed a small study group including Joel Albert for the year-long real property course. We continued to work together occasionally through law school and enjoyed each other’s company. I got the award for being the best student in the real property course for the year. Marshall clearly ‘learned’ more to apply to his life-long career. After graduation, my wife Joyce and I socialized a lot with Marshall and Jill along with Joel and Ina Albert. Marshall was responsible for luring me or opening the door to my sojourn at Lazard Freres. Our socialization dropped off as other interests and demands on time intervened. I feel my interests in the art and culture world may have rubbed off on Marshall as can be evidenced by his fantastic involvement and contributions to those aspects of the life of the New York City area.
Looking back (and having done my homework on the internet) it seems that Marshall and I followed many of the same paths – we just did it at different times and perhaps riding in different vehicles. The society strata that Marshall seems to have stepped up into, as “Mr. Candice Burgen” (not to take anything away from Marshall’s own status and contributions) seems to have put a barrier around my attempts to reach him to discuss his life since we parted from 40 Wall Street at Lazaard Freres. Marshall has been “successful” in many ways (my mother would have loved it if my life was like his). I applaud his successes and the reputation that he seems to have created. There seem to be some questions unanswered. I suspect the answers would shine some more smiles and sunlight on Marshall and his ethics.
At Lazard/Longstreet, Marshall and I had desks that fronted on each other – crunched together in the crowded office. We were often on the phone, seeking financing for all kinds of deals, and signaling each other about successes, break-throughs, and turn-downs. I got to make some quick trips relating to workouts and deal-making for motels, shopping centers, NJ garbage deals. I created innumerable financing vehicles, running through all the names of mountain chains, other geographic places, and saw how to make money by buying innumerable gas stations that would be condemned to make way for highway improvements. Marshall seemed to gravitate toward and be chosen to work on shopping centers. As can be seen from the narrative about his career, that path chosen was one that lead to some pretty green pastures.
A native New Yorker, Marshall started his career as a lawyer and accountant before his learning experience at Lazard/Longstreet. He built his real estate reputation as the president of Arlen Realty and Development in the early '70s. (Concurrently, he also ran the company's Korvette discount store subsidiary.) In 1977, he left to found his own firm, the Georgetown Group, which eventually took control of some five million square feet of commercial and residential properties around the country, including 141 Fifth and 880 Broadway in New York. One project Georgetown failed to build was a new Madison Square Garden.
By the early '90s, Marshall had parlayed his real estate fortune into influence on New York City’s philanthropic circuit. He was named Chairman of the New York Public Library in 1990, overseeing a renovation of the Main Reading Room, a rehabilitation of the Fifth Avenue building, and the redevelopment of Bryant Park. In 1995, he relinquished his seat to care for his then-terminally ill first-wife, Jill. He returned to the scene in 2000 when he was named Chairman of the Lincoln Center redevelopment project. He held the position for just a year before resigning abruptly in October 2001, frustrated with the fractious squabbling that was holding up the project. (He left on particularly acrimonious terms with the notoriously difficult Joe Volpe, then the director of the Metropolitan Opera.) Rose continues to run the Georgetown Group, although he's substantially less prolific than he used to be. His only major project in recent years was the development of a Frank Gehry-designed headquarters for Barry Diller's IAC on the western edge of Chelsea.
Marshall and Candice Bergen tied the knot in 2000, several years after both had lost their previous spouses to cancer. Marshall had two kids, Wendi and Andrew, with his first wife Jill. These days, Marshall and Candice live at 1040 Fifth Avenue. Rose also owns a cottage-style home on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton and an estate in Los Angeles.
It has been said of Marshall Rose that he is a real-estate developer who seems to have invented a new profession, as a kind of real-estate adviser in the public interest. Rose is also unusual in the real-estate business because he appears not to have made any enemies in a cutthroat profession of exceedingly thin-skinned people. He seems to have had a hand in everything in New York, but he never leaves fingerprints. Rose, the son of a furrier, said that he views his exalted presence in the land of Brooke Astor and Bill Blass with equal parts gratitude and bemusement. “Some people make dresses, I make buildings,” he said, sitting in his office on Madison Avenue. “It’s a business. But I always wanted an interesting life, and for me the question was how I could have that.”
Here’s one account of how Marshall contributed to the life and viability of New York City. He played a key role in the historic New York Stock Exchange relocation beginning with an unusual request. At his first City Hall meeting with Giuliani administration officials, who were getting increasingly worried that the space-starved stock exchange might decide to sever its 206-year-old roots with the Financial District, Deputy Mayor Randy Levine got right to the point: Would Rose accept the seemingly mission impossible assignment of keeping the stock exchange within a three-minute walk of Broad and Wall Streets.?"I will on one condition," said Rose: "I can't be paid."
Thus began the story of how Rose along with state and city officials, stock exchange executives and two downtown property owners put together a $1 billion deal that moved New York's most important financial institution to a new home just a few hundred feet from its current landmark site. Officials on all sides of the talks credited the rags-to-riches Rose with figuring out the best site, structuring the complicated transaction and keeping the often-warring parties focused on the historic importance of what they were doing. "It could not have been done without him," Levine said. Rose, whose Georgetown Group led the $200 million renovation of Madison Square Garden in 1991 and developed such trophy properties as Olympic Tower on Fifth Ave., partly wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety with the exchange project. He didn't want to be paid because one top Giuliani official working on the project was his son-in-law, Planning Commission Chairman Joe Rose.
The son of a Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, furrier who went to public high school and City College, Rose said that he volunteers to repay New York for the opportunities he has had. "It's more important to me to leave the city a better place than be the richest guy in the cemetery," he said. The stock exchange deal appeared headed for the graveyard when the city enlisted Rose's aid. The space-starved exchange had given the city an ultimatum: It threatened to move out of the Financial District unless a suitable site could be found by the end of the year. Even worse, the Big Board had begun to mull the potentially devastating option of moving to New Jersey, after that state had offered a huge incentive package. New York City officials also were making little progress in negotiating with the owners of what they believed to be the most promising site: 25 Broad St. "It was clear we needed help," recalled Joe Rose.
The first thing Marshall Rose did was identify a better site than 25 Broad, on a block directly across Broad St. from the exchange's current location. But taking it over meant having to move J.P. Morgan out of its building at 23 Broad and tearing down an apartment building owned by Rockrose Development. City officials also warned Marshall Rose that the exchange had considered the so-called Morgan site several times in the past and ruled it out, leaving some lingering bad feelings on both sides. Nevertheless, by early September, the Morgan site had become the lead option. Marshall Rose was able to get talks going partly through his extensive business connections at J.P. Morgan, which he worked with on such deals as the sale of the landmark Woolworth Building across from City Hall.
He also helped craft a financial structure that would enable the exchange to afford the site, which is valued at $300 million. He did this partly by including an office tower in the plan that will share expenses with the Big Board. Marshall's volunteer status helped him persuade the different sides to compromise on these and numerous other issues, officials in the talks said. It was a constant reminder of the enormous public interest served by a viable, centrally located stock exchange. "Everybody realized we're all in the same boat," Rose said. In the end, Rose collected a fee for his work: For legal reasons, he accepted $1 for the hundreds of hours he put in.
An “outsider” I saw often at Lazard/Longstreet was Richard (Dick) Ravitch who, as a principal in HRH Construction, was involved with a number of projects that were undertaken and bandied about in the office. I found a great rapport with Dick and warmed to him immediately. He was honest, open, friendly, and seemed really smart and principled. He wrote a book in 2014 that seems to have some parallels with this effort of mine. I quote from his Postscript:
From Postscript to “So Much to Do – A full life of Business, Politics & Confronting Fiscal Crises:”
“I know that I am without a doubt one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. . . . I have been labeled a builder, a banker, a lawyer, a politician, and a guy who can’t make up his mind about what he wants to do when he grows up. This diversity of experiences, along with the many kinds of people it has brought into my life,, has added immeasurably to the good I have been able to do and the fun I’ve had. There have been moments where I’ve had pangs of envy toward people who knew exactly what they wanted to do, pursued their goal consistently, and achieved recognition as a single talent.
Many of my friends -- artists, lawyers, teachers, businessmen – say there are jealous of the many different lives I’ve led; and when I’m asked whether, looking back, I would have made any fundamentally different decisions about my career, the answer is an unequivocal no. There has been so much serendipity in so many of my choices that there is no way of knowing how things might have turned out otherwise. What has been constant is the gratification of having been able to try to match my good fortune with contributions to the community.”
It feels to this writer that I could easily have parroted that post-script, although at a more modest level and without the notoriety and more major contributions that Dick has made and continues to make. I am sure we both enjoy the relationship with Forrest Gump.
Richard Ravitch was born in New York City, the son of Saul and Sylvi Ravitch. His father was a co-founder of HRH Construction Corporation, which eventually grew to have offices in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The firm had begun building in Manhattan in the late nineteenth century, and by 1965 had built more than $1 billion worth of projects, including Columbia University Law School and New York University Hospital. Dick was a member of the third generation of the family to run the company. He was educated at Columbia College, earning an undergraduate degree in American History with Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1955, and Yale Law School, earning a JD in 1958. He served in the army for a short time after graduation from Yale and his 1960 marriage to Diane Silvers.
Governor Carey again chose Ravitch for a major appointment in 1979, as head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Carey had expressed the desire to keep the annual salary at $15,000, effectively requiring whoever took the job to be "independently wealthy or have a business that did not require his full attention". Ravitch was approved for the job, and did not accept a salary for his work. He was described as throwing himself "into the job unsparingly", recapitalizing the system, building the Metro-North Railroad from other existing lines, and improving labor relations. He was the chairman of the M.T.A. during the 11-day 1980 New York City transit strike, receiving death threats; in April 1981, a guard was injured in a shooting outside Ravitch's office by an armed intruder. Ravitch was assigned a bodyguard and he began wearing a bulletproof vest at some public events, and security was provided for his family. He led the M.T.A. until 1983.
When Dick briefly considered a run for mayor of New York City in 1977, he was met with a "lukewarm response"; he later made a serious run for the Democratic nomination in 1989. He ran as an "outsider" against incumbent mayor Ed Koch, Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins, and city comptrollerHarrison J. Goldin. He was endorsed by one of the city's major newspapers, the Daily News, just before the primary, but placed third in that primary, which Dinkins won. Ravitch's candidacy was described after the primary as being run in the face of "predictable defeat". Dinkins went on to win the general election against Rudy Giuliani.
Moving back to private industry, Ravitch was hired in November 1991 by the Major League Baseball owners as head of their Player Relations Committee, the chief labor negotiator for the owners, at an annual salary of $750,000. Although some critics claimed he was hired as a "union buster" against the Major League Baseball Players Association, he rejected that characterization. Ed Koch, who had been mayor of New York while Ravitch ran the M.T.A., called that description "foolish" and described Ravitch as a "Renaissance man." During 1994 negotiations between the owners and the players, a primary negotiating point was the owners' desire for a salary cap, which the union resisted. The negotiations were not successful in avoiding the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which ended the 1994 baseball season and resulted in cancellation of the 1994 World Series. The players' union held Ravitch partly responsible for causing the strike, which others thought was an unfair accusation. After the strike started, owners began relying less on Ravitch as a negotiator, and he resigned from the position in December 1994.
Still walking down the Grand Manner path, in 2004, Dick became a partner in Ravitch, Rice & Company, and was the chairman of both the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust's Board of Trustees, and the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust's Advisory Board. He was appointed by Govenernor Paterson in 2008 to assist in fixing the finances of the MTA, and was a delegate for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Following a scandal in early 2008, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned the governorship effective March 17, 2008, and the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, became the governor of New York. Since there is no provision for filling the office of the lieutenant governor in case of vacancy, it was filled on an acting basis by leaders of the state Senate. During the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis, in an attempt to break a legislative stalemate, Paterson appointed Dick to the position of Lieutenant Governor of New York and he was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor at 8 pm on July 8, 2009, while eating dinner at Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn. Peer Luger’s is one of “the” places to eat and be seen in Brooklyn and perhaps in all of NYC. The waiters there seem all to have worked there for centuries and when I was there, had symbols to reflect their longevity. The restaurant has been rated the top steakhouse in New York for decades and has earned a Michelin star, joining the ranks of American classics..
Several months of legal challenges followed Dick’s appointment. New York Attorney GeneralAndrew Cuomo had previously stated that the governor does not have the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor, and State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. announced he would sue to prevent the appointment. Supporters claimed Paterson had the right to appoint statewide officials, and opponents agreed with Cuomo's interpretation that the right to appoint officials did not include the office of lieutenant governor. There were several judicial rulings on the matter. On July 21, 2009, New York Supreme Court Justice William R. LaMarca issued a preliminary injunction against Ravitch performing any duties of the office. That injunction was stayed by Appellate Division Justice L. Priscilla Hall. On August 20, the Appellate Division's Second Dept. ruled unanimously that "the Governor’s purported appointment of Mr. Ravitch was unlawful because no provision of the Constitution or of any statute provides for the filling of a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor other than by election." On September 22, 2009, New York State's highest Court, the New York Court of Appeals, ruled that the governor may appoint a lieutenant governor in the event of a vacancy. As Lieutenant Governor Ravitch took just $1.00 per year as salary. This $1 a year business seems to be catching for my acquaintances from this era.
Ravitch's main job as Lieutenant Governor was to attempt to improve the state budgeting process. Working with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, he presented a series of recommendations on the subject, but his plan was not accepted by Paterson or the state legislature. In looking back on his tenure in office, Ravitch was quoted as saying "The truth of the matter is, I don't feel I accomplished anything very substantive."[ Ravitch did, however, influence the public discussion of the severe budget problems facing New York and other states. The papers he and Rockefeller Institute scholars produced during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor included analysis of New York's budget process, its Medicaid system, the budgetary powers of the Governor, transportation infrastructure, and the structural budgetary imbalance facing the state.
Dick’s contributions continued. He joined former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in 2011 to serve as s co-chairmen of a new task force that will examine issues such as health-care costs and municipal borrowing practiceshe task force plans to study at least five states and produce a report in about a year. The goal is to provide the public with more information than is generally made available by state and local governments.While the improving economy has boosted revenues in some states, many governments still face rising long-term costs for pensions, health care and debt payments. An adviser to former New York Gov. Hugh Carey, Ravitch helped broker a deal with public-employee labor unions that prevented a New York City bankruptcy in the 1970s. That's when Dick met Mr. Volcker, then president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The bank declined Mr. Ravitch's request to provide financial support to the city. The two men are now friends and have shared office space in mid-town Manhattan for about 15 years.
Dick Ravitch reported that: "States spend more on providing the services that really touch Americans—such as public education, health and welfare, infrastructure and transportation —than does the federal government yet no one knows their fiscal condition. The task force will make transparent what now is opaque." . . . . .
Well, perhaps I missed it – sometimes really good ideas, really important research, people whose experience we should respect – things that will make life better for the many – these are lost in the mist of the inanities of the daily news cycle and what seems to be the dish that the general public wants served up. This certainly seems to be the case with our political arena where what is bandied about by all the money raised somehow seems to persuade those who do condescend to get to the ballot box. There are studies galore – there are really great ideas our best and most experienced people come up with to solve the problems that arise and the problems that have festered for longer periods. There are intransient beliefs and positions that obfuscate the solutions and even the discussions of good and new ideas. How to get these ideas, suggestions, proposed solutions on the table; how to enable them to be heard – this is an important art that needs to be cultivated and harvested.
In retrospect, in the perspective that writing and researching this work has given me, I can see how some ideas and other contributions I have planted the seeds for have yielded some good fruit. How to be heard, at the right time and place; how to gather the troops to create the critical mass needed to move ahead; how to understand when it is the right time and place for the seed to be planted so it will grow – these are elements that take understanding, artistry, and experience. I suggest that tapping into the vast pool that our elders populate, into what they can offer (more than just being objects to be taken care of) is one major step that needs to be and should be taken – NOW!