Édouard Stern

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Édouard Stern
Born(1954-10-18)18 October 1954
Died28 February 2005(2005-02-28) (aged 50)
Notable work
Bank Stern

Édouard Stern (18 October 1954 – 28 February 2005) was a French banker famously murdered Geneva, Switzerland, by a woman he had a four-year relationship with.[1] At the time of his death, he was the 38th richest French citizen.[2]


Early life[edit]

Édouard Stern was born in 1954 to one of France's wealthiest families, the owners of the private investment house Banque Stern.[3] His father, Antoine Jean Stern is a descendant of a notable family of bankers, going back to 19th-century Frankfurt, and his mother was Christiane Laroche, former wife of French journalist and politician Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber.[4] He is the great grandson of Edgard Stern [fr].

Keen to follow in his father's footsteps, Stern graduated from the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (ESSEC Business School) in Paris with a degree in finance before joining the family's private investment house in 1977.[5]


Aged 22, Stern took the reins of Banque Stern with a clear mandate to revitalize the nearly bankrupt institution. During the 1980s, Stern revamped the bank, expanding its activity in financial markets, as well as in mergers and acquisitions.[6] In 1985, Stern sold the bank for 300 million francs[7] ($60 million in 2005 dollars) to Lebanese investors. Thanks to a clause attached to the contract, Stern got to keep the copyright over his last name. Immediately after the sale went through, Stern started a new bank,[8] with a similar name and business profile, drawing in many of his former clients. He sold this second institution for an estimated 1.75 billion francs[9] in 1988 to the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBS, which will later merge with UBS to form UBS S.A.). As a result of these transactions, Stern shot up the ranks of the richest families in France, occupying the 38th spot, according to Forbes.[10][deprecated source]

In 1992, he joined Lazard Frères as managing partner and quickly became one of the firm's star bankers and heir-apparent.[11] He tried to reduce overhead[12] and bring in younger partners but clashed with Michel David-Weill, the bank's head and his father-in-law. He quit Lazard Frères in 1997 and set up his own investment fund, Investment Real Returns (IRR). He owned half and the remainder was held by Eurazeo, a Lazard holding company and Mainz Holdings Ltd., a U.S. Virgin Islands firm that Stern wholly owned.[13] He maintained cordial relations with David-Weill, who invested $300 million in IRR.[14]

In 2000, Stern bought shares in the London-based Delta PLC, an international engineering group that was revising its corporate strategy. His stake eventually increased to 26%[13] and after applying considerable pressure, he was named non-executive chairman on 31 December 2003. After his death, Delta was taken over by the US company, Valmont.[13] In October 2003, Stern sued Rhodia, alleging false accounting and insider dealing.[15]

During his almost three decade long career, Stern amassed a fortune of more than a $1 billion through a series of "often brilliant business deals".[7] His banking style was considered revolutionary for France's so-called "cozy capitalism" as Stern perfected the art of engineering hostile takeovers.[7]


On 28 February Stern was found dead in his apartment in Geneva, his body riddled with bullets. He was found in the bedroom, in a flesh-coloured head-to-toe latex suit. Swiss authorities arrested his long-time lover, Cécile Brossard, over the killing. Brossard, 40, was convicted and on 18 June 2009 was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison.[16][17] In addition, the Swiss court ordered Brossard to pay Stern's children one Swiss franc for "moral damage". The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Stern's family hopes people will stop talking about the case".[18]

Cécile Brossard was freed on parole in November 2010, after spending five years in detention (including four years while awaiting trial.[19] In 2013, Cécile Brossard talked about her murder for the first time since the trial, confessing that she "eternally regrets" her actions and she misses her lover, who had "a lovely and luminous personality".[20][21]

The French film "Une Histoire d'Amour''.[22] (titled in English 'Tied') is a direct telling of the story, although the ending there could imply death by dehydration during the Mistress' long plane flight rather than by (a blank) gunshot. The story of Édouard Stern is cited as the inspiration for Olivier Assayas' 2008 film Boarding Gate.[23] The death of Édouard Stern was directly parodied on the FX animated series Archer in the third season episode "Lo Scandalo".[24]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Édouard Stern married Béatrice David-Weill, the daughter of Michel David-Weill, president of Lazard Frères. The couple divorced in 1998. Stern is survived by three children.[25] In 1997, Stern became romantically linked to Julia Lemigova, former Miss USSR 1990 with whom he had a son, Maxmillian, who died as an infant under suspicious circumstances.[26][deprecated source] In 2000, Stern became involved with Cecile Brossard.[25]

Stern was known for his eccentric life style. He was very close to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.[27] He was a notorious gourmand, once reportedly eating seventy pieces of sushi in one sitting.[28]


  1. ^ [1], Telegraph
  2. ^ [2], Times Online
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2009-08-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Trajectoire d'une comète". lesechos.fr. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  5. ^ "Edouard Stern". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  6. ^ "Edouard Stern,Ex-Lazard Banker, Dies in Geneva at 50 (Correct) - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  7. ^ a b c Carreyrou, John; Paris, Jo Wrighton in; JOURNAL, Alessandra Galloni in Geneva Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET. "How Banker's Life, Full of Intrigue,Ended in Murder". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  8. ^ Carreyrou, John; Paris, Jo Wrighton in; JOURNAL, Alessandra Galloni in Geneva Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET. "How Banker's Life, Full of Intrigue, Ended in Murder". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  9. ^ "L'affaire Stern : épilogue d'un itinéraire tourmenté". Les Echos. June 8, 2006. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "Former call girl pleads guilty to killing billionaire French banker after kinky sex session". Dailymail. June 11, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  11. ^ "Lazard Banker to Join Pritzker Concern". New York Times. January 8, 1998. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  12. ^ "Lazard And Mediobanca: Shocks To The System". Bloomberg. November 27, 2000. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "Edouard Stern, Ex-Lazard Banker, Dies in Geneva at 50 (Correct)". Bloomberg. March 3, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  14. ^ "How Banker's Life, Full of Intrigue, Ended in Murder". The Wall Street Journal. April 14, 2005. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  15. ^ [3] Report on Stock Market Malpractice
  16. ^ Stern murder, Cécile Brossard trial will be the talk of Geneva, GenevaLunch, 9 June 2009
  17. ^ Sex, power, money and blood: the Stern trial, Swissinfo.ch, June 10, 2009
  18. ^ [4], Wall Street Journal
  19. ^ [5], CBS News
  20. ^ "Cecile Brossard, who killed French banker Edouard Stern during S&M session, 'eternally' regrets his death". December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  21. ^ Stern’s Mistress Gets 8 Years, 6 Months for Killing Financier, June 18, 2009, Bloomberg L.P.
  22. ^ Imdb.com entry
  23. ^ Memento Films press release[permanent dead link] for the film Boarding Gate. retrieved May 25, 2008
  24. ^ [6], Avclub
  25. ^ a b "Edouard Stern : l'amour sauvage". June 11, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  26. ^ "Tennis legend Martina, VIP orgies and the mystery of her model lover's 'murdered' baby". November 10, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  27. ^ [7], Telegraph
  28. ^ "Book review, tales of sex". 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2015.