|Wall Street character|
|First appearance||Wall Street|
|Created by||Oliver Stone
|Portrayed by||Michael Douglas|
|Spouse(s)||Kate Gekko (ex-wife)
(played by Sean Young)
|Children||Rudy Gekko (son) (deceased)
(played by Sean Stone)
Winnie Gekko-Moore (daughter)
(played by Carey Mulligan)
|Relatives||Jacob Moore (son-in-law)
(played by Shia LaBeouf)
Louis Moore (grandson)
Gordon Gekko is a fictional character in the 1987 film Wall Street and its 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, both directed by Oliver Stone. Gekko was portrayed by actor Michael Douglas, whose performance in the first film won him an Oscar for Best Actor.
Co-written by Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser, Gekko is claimed to be based loosely on several actual stockbrokers, including Stone's own father Louis Stone. According to Edward R. Pressman, producer of the film, "Originally, there was no one individual who Gekko was modeled on," he adds. "But Gekko was partly Milken", who was the "Junk Bond King" of the 1980s, and indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud in 1989. and a healthy dose of Carl Icahn.
Gekko grew up on Long Island and went to City College of New York. His birthday is May 6, though his year of birth is unstated. His father was a salesman of electrical supplies who died of a heart attack at 49. He married Kate and had a son, Rudy, and a daughter, Winnie. Rudy committed suicide while in college because of Gordon's illegal activities. His on-again-off-again mistress is Darien Taylor, with whom he maintains a friendship. During the mid-1980s he had a rivalry with fellow corporate raider Sir Lawrence "Larry" Wildman, though the conversation between the two men clearly indicates that Larry is the wealthier of the two.
Gekko becomes rich in the 1970s through the buying and speculation of real estate, and soon turns his attention to corporate raiding. It turns out, however, that much of his wealth comes from a heavy reliance on insider trading. His tactics finally catch up with him in 1985 when his latest protégé, Bud Fox, is arrested for his role in their illegal trades and agrees to turn state's evidence against Gekko in return for a lighter sentence. On the strength of Fox's testimony, Gekko is convicted of multiple securities violations. He is sent to prison in 1990 for his crimes and is released in 2001, finding himself the only released ex-convict without anyone greeting him. He later reconciled with his daughter and son-in-law.
Following his release from prison in 2001, Gekko became an author and lecturer, and was one of the few voices to predict a bursting credit bubble. As that financial crisis unfolded, Gekko sank his estranged daughter's trust fund into a new London-based hedge fund, and his personal net worth surged skyward. Now reportedly focused on shorting municipal bonds, eyeing companies that mine rare-earth elements.
Gekko has become a symbol in popular culture for unrestrained greed (with the signature line, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good"), often in fields outside corporate finance.
On September 25, 2008, Michael Douglas, acting as a UN ambassador for peace, was at the 2008 session of the United Nations General Assembly. Reporters sought to ask him off topic questions about Gordon Gekko; "Douglas was asked whether he bore some responsibility for the behavior of the greed merchants who had brought the world to its knees thanks to his (aka Gekko's) encouragement." Trying to return to topic Douglas tried to "suggest that the same level of passion Wall Street investors showed should also apply to getting rid of nuclear weapons."
The actor was also asked to compare nuclear Armageddon with the "financial Armageddon on Wall Street". After one reporter inquired, "Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?" Douglas stated, "I'm not saying that. And my name is not Gordon. It's a character I played 20 years ago."
On October 8, 2008, the character was referenced in a speech by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his speech "The Children of Gordon Gekko" concerning the Financial crisis of 2007-2010. Rudd stated “It is perhaps time now to admit that we did not learn the full lessons of the greed-is-good ideology. And today we are still cleaning up the mess of the 21st-century children of Gordon Gekko.”
On July 28, 2009, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone cited Gekko's Greed is good slogan in a speech to the Italian senate, saying that the free market had been replaced by a greed market, and also blamed such a mentality for the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
In popular culture
- In the computer game Fallout 2, an NPC named Gordon resides in the town of Gecko. Upon initial conversation by one's character, Gordon proceeds to recite a "Greed is Good" monologue.
- In the UK sitcom Only Fools and Horses, the main character Derek Trotter sees the film Wall Street and tries to dress like Gordon Gekko even commenting, 'I've got Gordon Gekko braces'.
- In the movie Boiler Room (2000), the characters played by Nicky Katt and Vin Diesel recite by heart lines of Gordon Gekko in front of a crew of their co-workers, while Wall Street is playing on TV.
- In the fourth episode of the first season of The Sarah Silverman Program, titled "Not Without My Daughter", Sarah witnesses a young girl, who later becomes her protégé, reciting Gordon Gekko's famous "Greed is Good" speech before a panel of beauty pageant judges.
- In Season 4 of Robot Chicken, Gordon the Gecko appears as Kermit the Frog's businessman cousin. The majority of his lines are direct quotes from the movie, including his "Greed is Good" speech.
- In Season 4, episode 14 of Psych, Shawn Spencer gives a "Greed is good" speech while stalling on stage at a business presentation.
- In the US television series The Office, BJ Novak's character Ryan Howard dresses up as Gordon Gekko in the fifth episode of the fifth season, Employee Transfer.
- In a 2010 radio advertisement, AFSCME tries to paint United States Senate candidate Pat Toomey as a Wall Street villain. In the commercial, the narrator says that it was Gordon Gekko who introduced the idea that "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." All throughout the commercial, bullet points of Toomey's faults are listed—each one followed by the haunting words, "Greed is Good."
- In 2012, US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's career with Bain Capital was likened to Gekko's by his political rivals, with an ABC News political blogger saying "Gekko’s ghost has haunted the Romney campaign from the start."
- The FBI has used Michael Douglas' Gekko for an anti-insider trading campaign.
- Mentioned in the song 'Greed' featured on Patrick Stump's debut solo album Soul Punk released October 18, 2011.
- In episode 18 of Season 2 of Felicity, Sean refers to Ben as Gordon Gekko when he received an internship at a stockbroker's office.
- In Season 1 Episode 5 of Suits, Trevor remarks on Mike's new businessman like appearance saying: "You look like Gordon Gecko's little brother. You working on Wall Street now?"
- In Season 4 Episode 9 of Futurama, "Future Stock", the main antagonist "That Guy" is an 80s financier, woken up from cryogenic sleep. The style of the character, in terms of clothing and mannerisms, is largely modelled after Gordon Gekko.
- In John Gardner's novelisation of Licence to Kill, James Bond quips that a drug baron's financial aide "Looks like a Gekko".
"Greed is Good" quotation
Notwithstanding the popular cultural significance of the character (and the wide repetition of this particular quotation), Gekko never actually uttered the exact words "Greed is Good" in the original Wall Street film, although the trailers for the film featured a montage of edited scenes that resulted in the phrase being heard as such. The full text of the quotation is below:
|“||Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.||”|
- "Gordon Gekko, Preaching the Gospel of Greed". NPR. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
- Burrough, Bryan (February 2010). "The return of Gordon Gekko". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Osborne, Robert A. (1999). 70 years of the Oscar: the official history of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-7892-0484-4.
- "Gekko is Back", 28 August 2007 Daily Telegraph
- [dead link] "AFI 100 years...100 heroes and villains". Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Noer, Michael (18 December 2008). "The Forbes Fictional 15". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
- Phillip Coorey (26 September 2008). "Michael who? It's Gekko we're after". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Douglas goes nuclear: I'm not Gordon Gekko!". Fairfax Digital. 25 September 2008.
- Kevin Rudd (6 October 2008). "Edited extract of the speech: The children of Gordon Gekko". The Australian.
- Krause-Jackson, Flavia (July 28, 2009). "Vatican Slams ‘Greed Is Good’ Wall Street Mantra". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- "Gordon (Gecko) at The Vault, Fallout wiki".
- Rich Klein, Mitt Romney vs. Gordon Gekko ABC News 9 January 2012
- Protess, Ben; Ahmed, Azam (2012-02-27). "Michael Douglas Tackles Greed for F.B.I". The New York Times.
- Palazzolo, Joe (2012-02-27). "Gordon Gekko Is Cooperating with the FBI". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Gordon Gekko: Greed Is Bad". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-02-27.
- Strasburg, Jenny; Albergotti, Reed (2012-02-28). "Insider Targets Expanding". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. 2012-02-27.
- "Memorable Quotes for Wall Street (1987)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
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