Bruce Wasserstein

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Bruce Wasserstein
Historical photo of Bruce Wasserstein
Bruce Jay Wasserstein

(1947-12-25)December 25, 1947
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
DiedOctober 14, 2009(2009-10-14) (aged 61)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Harvard Business School
Harvard Law School
Occupation(s)Investment banker; Lawyer
Employer(s)Lazard Ltd; Dresdner Bank; Wasserstein Perella & Co.; First Boston Corp.; Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Laura Lynelle Killin
(m. 1968; div. 1974)
Christine Parrott
(div. 1992)
(m. 1996; div. 2008)
Angela Chao
(m. 2009)
RelativesWendy Wasserstein (sister)

Bruce Jay Wasserstein (December 25, 1947 – October 14, 2009)[1] was an American investment banker, businessman, and writer. He was a graduate of the McBurney School,[2] 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.[3]

Early life[edit]

Wasserstein was born and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, New York, the son of Lola (née Schleifer) and Morris Wasserstein.[4] His father, a Jewish immigrant from pre-World War II Poland, emigrated to New York City and started a ribbon company.[5] 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.[6]

Wasserstein had four siblings: businesswoman Sandra Wasserstein Meyer; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein (whose daughter, Lucy Jane, he was raising at the time of his death); Abner Wasserstein (died 2011); and Georgette Levis (died 2014), who was married to psychiatrist Albert J. Levis.[7][8][9]

Wasserstein attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush for high school.[10]


Starting his career as an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Wasserstein then moved to First Boston Corp. in 1977 and eventually rose to co-head of that company's then-dominant merger and acquisition practice.[11] In 1988, with colleague Joseph Perella, he left First Boston to form investment bank boutique Wasserstein Perella & Co.,[12] which he sold in 2000, at the top of the late 1990s bull market, to Germany's Dresdner Bank for around $1.4 billion in stock.[13] 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 the financial services firm Lazard.[14] In 2005, he led the initial public offering of Lazard and became the public firm's first chairman and CEO.[15]

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.[16] He was 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[17] to Harvard Law School, for the creation of a large academic wing of the school's Northwest Corner complex, which was named Wasserstein Hall.

Net worth[edit]

According to Forbes, as of September 17, 2008, Wasserstein's net worth was estimated to be $2.3 billion.[18]

As of 2008 he owned an apartment at 927 Fifth Avenue in New York City, an estate in Santa Barbara in California, an Atlantic oceanfront estate in East Hampton (Long Island), a house at 38 Belgrave Square in London, and another apartment in Paris.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Wasserstein was married four times and has seven biological children:[7]

  • Laura Lynelle Killin (married 1968, divorced 1974).[7]
  • Christine Parrott (divorced 1992). They had three children: Ben, Pam and Scoop.[7] Christine is a psychoanalyst and has since remarried to American journalist and newspaper publisher Dan Rattiner.[20]
  • Claude Becker (married 1996, divorced 2008). They had two sons: Jack and Dash.[7] Prior to her marriage to Wasserstein, Claude was an Emmy Award-winning CBS news producer. After Bruce's death Claude took in Lucy, his sister Wendy's daughter.[21]
  • Angela Chao (married 2009, up until Wasserstein's death).[7] She is the sister of Elaine Chao, who is married to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.[7]

Wasserstein's political position was liberal. He was involved with media since high school and college, when he was an editor on his high school newspaper, The McBurneian Bruce Wasserstein’s Westport Connection - - Westport, Connecticut, (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.[22] Wasserstein also served as trustee for the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism from 2001 until his death.


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.[23] However, Wasserstein died in Manhattan three days later, on October 14, at the age of 61.[24]


  • Wasserstein, Bruce (2001). Big Deal: Mergers and Acquisitions in the Digital Age. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-52268-6.
  • Wasserstein, Bruce (1998). Big Deal: The Battle for the Control of America's Leading Corporations. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67521-0.
  • Wasserstein, Bruce (1978). Corporate Finance Law: A Guide for the Executive. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-068423-5.
  • Wasserstein, Bruce; Mark J. Green (1970). With Justice for Some: An Indictment of the Law by Young Advocates. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-0541-X.


  1. ^ Bio at International Who's Who. Accessed September 3, 2006.
  2. ^ "Bruce Wasserstein's Westport Connection - - Westport, Connecticut". Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  3. ^ David Brewerton (October 22, 2009). "Bruce Wasserstein obituary". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Cole, Brett (2008). M&A Titans: The Pioneers Who Shaped Wall Street's Mergers and Acquisitions Industry. Wiley. ISBN 9780470126899.
  5. ^ Business Week bio of Bruce Wasserstein Archived October 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ 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, according to Salamon, Julie (2011). Wendy and the Lost Boys. New York: Penguin Press ISBN 978-1-59420-298-8
  7. ^ a b c d e f g New York Daily News: "Bruce Wasserstein, Lazard CEO and New York owner, dies at 61" By Helen Kennedy October 14, 2009
  8. ^ "Georgette Levis Obituary". February 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "Dr. Albert Levis to Wed Georgette Wasserstein". The New York Times. November 6, 1966.
  10. ^ Cohan, William D. (March 29, 2010). "Bruce Wasserstein's Last Surprise". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  11. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (April 21, 1981). "First Boston's Merger Makers". New York Times.
  12. ^ "7 to Leave First Boston To Form Firm". New York Times. April 16, 1988.
  13. ^ "Dresdner buys Wasserstein in $1.4 billion deal - Sep. 18, 2000". Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  14. ^ Andrew Ross Sorkin and Suzanne Kapner (November 16, 2001). "A High-Powered Deal Maker Is Named to Lead Lazard". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Moyer, Liz: [1] Forbes, May 5, 2005, "Lazard's Broken"
  16. ^ Haycock, Gavin: [2] Reuters, July 5, 2007, "Incisive Media to buy Wasserstein's ALM for $630 million"
  17. ^ "DealBook". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "The 400 Richest Americans: #190 Bruce Wasserstein -". Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  19. ^ Cohan, William D. (April 3, 2008). The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 9780141916835.
  20. ^ New York Times: "Christine Wasserstein and Daniel Rattiner August 3, 2008
  21. ^ "Vogue: "Claude Wasserstein's Rooftop Playhouse" by Plum Sykes". Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  22. ^ Teitelman, Robert: [3] Time magazine, November 2, 2009, "Bruce Wasserstein"
  23. ^ Berman, Jeffrey McCracken and Dennis K. (October 13, 2009). "Lazard's Wasserstein Hospitalized". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2020 – via
  24. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross; de la Merced, Michael J. (October 14, 2009). "Bruce Wasserstein, Lazard Banker, Dies at 61". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2020.

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