Bruce Wasserstein

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Bruce Wasserstein
Bruce Wasserstein.jpg
Born Bruce Jay Wasserstein
(1947-12-25)December 25, 1947
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died October 14, 2009(2009-10-14) (aged 61)
Residence New York City
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Michigan
Harvard Business School
Harvard Law School
Occupation Investment banker
Employer Lazard Ltd; Dresdner Bank; Wasserstein Perella & Co.; First Boston Corp.
Home town New York City
Net worth Increase $3.4 billion (2008)[1]
Spouse(s) Laura Lynelle Killin (1968-1974; divorced)
Christine Parrott (?-1992; divorced)
Claude Becker (1996-2008; divorced)
Angela Chao (2009; married until his death)
Children six (6 biological)
with Parrott:
--Ben Wasserstein
--Pam Wasserstein
--Scoop Wasserstein
with Becker:
--Jack Wasserstein
--Dash Wasserstein
with Erin McCarthy (non-spouse):
--Sky Wasserstein
Parents Morris Wasserstein
Lola Schleifer

Bruce Jay Wasserstein (December 25, 1947 – October 14, 2009)[2] was an American investment banker, businessman, and writer. He was a graduate of the McBurney School,[3] University of Michigan, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School, and spent a year at the University of Cambridge. He was prominent in the mergers and acquisitions industry, credited with working on 1,000 transactions with a total value of approximately $250 billion.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, New York, to Morris and Lola (née Schleifer) Wasserstein, Bruce Wasserstein was one of five siblings.[5] His father, Morris, a Jewish immigrant from pre-World War II Poland, emigrated to New York City and started a ribbon company.[6] His maternal grandfather was Simon Schleifer, a Jewish teacher in the yeshiva in Wloclawek, Poland who later emigrated to Paterson, New Jersey and became a Hebrew school principal. (Claims that Schleifer was a prominent playwright are most likely apocryphal, as this profession was only added to his résumé after Wendy Wasserstein, Bruce's sister, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989.[7])


Starting his career as a Cravath, Swaine & Moore attorney, Wasserstein later rose to co-head of First Boston Corp.'s then-dominant merger and acquisition practice. In 1988, with colleague Joseph Perella, he left First Boston to form investment bank boutique Wasserstein Perella & Co., which he sold in 2000, at the top of the 1990s bull market, to Germany's Dresdner Bank for around $1.4 billion in stock.[8] In 2002, he left the unit Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (formed by merging Dresdner's United Kingdom unit Kleinwort Benson with Wasserstein Perella) to become head of Lazard.[9] In 2005, he led the initial public offering of Lazard and became the public firm's first Chairman and CEO.[10]

Wasserstein controlled Wasserstein & Co., a private equity firm with investments in a number of industries, particularly media. In 2004, he added New York Magazine to his media empire. In July 2007, he sold American Lawyer Media to Incisive Media for about $630 million in cash.[11] He is credited with the term, Pac-Man defense, which is used by targeted companies during a hostile takeover attempt.


In 2007 Wasserstein made a $25 million donation[12] to Harvard Law School, the large academic wing of the school's new Northwest Corner complex, which will be named Wasserstein Hall in his honor.

Net worth[edit]

According to Forbes, as of September 17, 2008, Wasserstein's net worth was estimated to be $2.3 billion.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Wasserstein has been married four times and has six biological children:[13]

  • In 1968, he married Laura Lynelle Killin.[14] They divorced in 1974.[13]
  • Christine Parrott (divorced 1992). They had three children: Ben, Pam and Scoop.[13] Christine is a psychoanalyst and has since remarried to American journalist and newspaper publisher Dan Rattiner.[15]
  • Claude Becker (married 1996, divorced 2008). They had two sons: Jack and Dash.[13] Prior to her marriage to Wasserstein, Claude was an Emmy award winning CBS news producer. After Bruce's death Claude took in Lucy, Wendy's daughter. [16]
  • Angela Chao, (married 2009, up until Wasserstein's death).[13]

Wasserstein had a sixth child, Sky Wendy Esme Wasserstein, with Erin McCarthy[17] after separating from Becker.[18][19] they did not marry.

Bruce Wasserstein was predeceased by his two siblings: businesswoman Sandra Wasserstein Meyer and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, whose daughter, Lucy Jane, he was raising and who was taken in by Claude after his death.

His political position was liberal, and he was involved with media since high school and college, when he was an editor on his high school newspaper, The McBurneian [4], (McBurney School, New York), and later at the University of Michigan Michigan Daily, then served an internship at Forbes Magazine. Inspired by Ralph Nader, he was one of Nader's Raiders for a brief length of time. Rahm Emanuel and Vernon Jordan were employed by Wasserstein for a few years.[20]


On October 11, 2009, Wasserstein was admitted to hospital with an irregular heartbeat. It was originally reported that his condition was serious, but that he was stable and recovering.[21] On October 14, 2009, Wasserstein was pronounced dead. He was 61 years old.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Bio at International Who's Who. Accessed September 3, 2006.
  3. ^ Westport Now site
  4. ^
  5. ^ Cole, Brett (2008). M&A Titans: The Pioneers Who Shaped Wall Street's Mergers and Acquisitions Industry. Wiley. ISBN 9780470126899. 
  6. ^ Business Week bio of Bruce Wasserstein
  7. ^ Salamon, Julie (2011). Wendy and the Lost Boys. New York: Penguin Press ISBN 978-1-59420-298-8
  8. ^ "Dresdner buys Wasserstein in $1.4 billion deal", September 18, 2000
  9. ^
  10. ^ Moyer, Liz: [1] Forbes, May 5, 2005, "Lazard's Broken"
  11. ^ Haycock, Gavin: [2] Reuters, July 5, 2007, "Incisive Media to buy Wasserstein's ALM for $630 million"
  12. ^ Coming to Harvard Law School: Wasserstein Hall
  13. ^ a b c d e New York Daily News: "Bruce Wasserstein, Lazard CEO and New York owner, dies at 61" By Helen Kennedy October 14, 2009
  14. ^ Vanity Fair: "Bruce Wasserstein’s Last Surprise" By William D. Cohan May 2010
  15. ^ New York Times: "Christine Wasserstein and Daniel Rattiner August 3, 2008
  16. ^ Vogue: "Claude Wasserstein's Rooftop Playhouse" by Plum Sykes
  17. ^ Daily Mail: "Battle of the billionaire's Hamptons mansion" by Louise Boyle July 17, 2013
  18. ^ The Daily Beast: "Life After Wasserstein by Ralph Gardner, Jr. December 14, 2009
  19. ^ New York Post: "A BABY BETWEEN MARRIAGES" February 20, 2009
  20. ^ Teitelman, Robert: [3] Time Magazine, November 2, 2009, "Bruce Wasserstein"
  21. ^ Wall Street Journal report on Wasserstein's hospitalization

External links[edit]