Death of Ivan Boesky, Infamous Insider Trader Who Inspired Gordon Gekko and Dominated Wall Street

Former financier and central figure in insider trading scandals of the 1980s, Ivan Boesky, has passed away at the age of 87. Boesky, who was known for his involvement in the Wall Street world, was a pioneer in the risky business of speculating in takeover stocks. At the peak of his career, his wealth was estimated at $280m (£220m).

However, Boesky’s success was short-lived as the US Securities and Exchange Commission found evidence that he had obtained tips from investment bankers about upcoming deals and used them for personal gain before the information was made public. This illegal activity led to his cooperation with a young attorney named Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Giuliani in hopes of receiving leniency as part of the government’s investigation into insider trading rings.

Boesky went undercover and secretly recorded three conversations with Michael Milken, also known as the “junk bond king”. Milken eventually pled guilty to six felonies and served 22 months in prison, while Boesky paid a $100m fine and spent 20 months in a minimum-security California prison nicknamed “Club Fed”. The scandal brought to light the corruption and greed in the financial world, and Boesky’s infamous quote, “greed is good,” became a popular phrase, later echoed by Michael Douglas in his portrayal of Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street.

While he denied ever saying those words, Boesky lived a lavish lifestyle, often working 18-hour days and indulging in designer clothes, limousines, private jets, and a lavish mansion in Westchester County, New York. After his release from a Brooklyn halfway house in 1990, Boesky’s marriage to his wife Seema ended in divorce after 30 years. He claimed to be left penniless after paying fines, restitution, and legal fees, but ultimately received $20m in cash and $180,000 a year in alimony from his wife’s $100m fortune.

Boesky later resided in La Jolla, San Diego with his childhood friend Houshang Wekili. Despite his infamous legacy, Boesky’s impact on the financial world cannot be denied. His involvement in the insider trading scandals of the 1980s brought about significant changes in regulations and ethics within the industry.

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