Gordon Gekko

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Gordon Gekko
Wall Street character
Gordon Gekko.jpg
First appearance Wall Street (1987)
Last appearance Wall Street:
Money Never Sleeps
Created by Oliver Stone
Stanley Weiser
Portrayed by Michael Douglas[1]
Occupation Corporate raider
CEO of Gekko & Co. (formerly)
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)
Nationality American

Gordon Gekko is a fictional character in the 1987 film Wall Street and its 2010 sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,[2] 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.[3]

Co-written by Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser, Gekko is claimed to be based loosely on several actual financiers, including Stone's own father Louis Stone[4] and corporate raider Asher Edelman.[5] According to Edward R. Pressman, producer of the film, "Originally, there was no one individual who Gekko was modeled on," but added that "Gekko was partly Milken", who was the "Junk Bond King" of the 1980s.[6]

In 2003, the American Film Institute named Gordon Gekko No. 24 on its Top 50 movie villains of all time.[7] He is currently worth $1.1 billion[8], having inflated $100 million from his London investment company into $1 billion in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In Wall Street, he was stated to be worth only $650 million.[9]

Cultural impact[edit]

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 Gekko. He was asked whether he "bore some responsibility for the behavior of the greed merchants who had brought the world to its knees". Trying to return to topic, Douglas suggested that "the same level of passion Wall Street investors showed should also apply to getting rid of nuclear weapons."[10]

Douglas 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."[10][11]

On October 8, 2008, the character was referenced by 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."[12]

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.[13]

The FBI has used Michael Douglas' Gekko for an anti-insider trading campaign.[14][15][16][17][18]


In Wall Street, set in 1985, Gordon Gekko is first introduced as an inspirational corporate raider, and a hero to Bud Fox. Gekko, who runs financial service corporation Gekko & Co., is a well-known shareholder, but he is said by some that he is evil. He contradicts this using his famous "Greed is Good" speech at a shareholder meeting for the Teldar Paper company. During the film, he and Bud purchase Blue Star Airlines and Gekko tries to sell off the company's assets to make him and Bud incredibly wealthy. Bud, having heard about Gekko's real plan, manages to rise the stock at a bid of 24, where Gekko tries to sell, but Bud tells everyone to dump their stock in Blue Star. Eventually, seeing that his ownership in the airline is now useless, Gekko dumps his stock reluctantly. At the end of the film, he assaults Bud in retaliation for his defeat, as well as loss of millions of dollars. Bud, who was wearing a wire, manages to record Gekko's confession to his insider trading techniques for the SEC. What happens to Gekko after he retaliates Bud is unclear, as he is never shown after that scene.

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gekko is released from jail, revealing that sometime after the film, he was arrested for insider trading and securities fraud. Poor, and no longer respected in the corporate world, he becomes an author and lecturer. He promoted his book, Is Greed Good?, contradicting what he said in 1985, possibly having a change of heart when he was arrested. His daughter Winnie blames him for her problems in life, including the suicide of her brother Rudy (who appeared in Wall Street as a toddler) and the divorce of him and his wife Kate. Winnie's fiancé, Jake, sees Gordon as a father figure, albeit still unscrupulous. During the film, Gordon regains most of his fortune when he takes Winnie's $100 million and founds a financial services company in London (his company from the first film, Gekko & Co., got shut down and bankrupted when he was arrested). However, when he predicted the financial crisis of 2008, he traded smartly and became a billionaire. Seeing no more reason to be evil, he deposits the $100 million into the fusion research account and asks to be forgiven by Winnie. A year later, Gekko attends his grandson's first birthday party, having finally been accepted by Winnie and Jake as a father and grandparent.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gordon Gekko, Preaching the Gospel of Greed". NPR. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  2. ^ Burrough, Bryan (February 2010). "The return of Gordon Gekko". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Anthony Vieira (September 23, 2010). "Review: Wall Street Money Never Sleeps". The Film Stage. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Vardi, Nathan. "Greed is so-so". forbes.com. Forbes. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Simon Goodley (28 August 2007). "Brace yourself, Gekko is back". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "AFI 100 years...100 heroes and villains". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Gordon Gekko on The Forbes Fictional 15". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2018-03-18. 
  9. ^ Ackman, Edited by Michael Noer and Dan. "The Forbes Fictional Fifteen". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-03-18. 
  10. ^ a b Phillip Coorey (26 September 2008). "Michael who? It's Gekko we're after". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  11. ^ "Douglas goes nuclear: I'm not Gordon Gekko!". Fairfax Digital. 25 September 2008. 
  12. ^ Kevin Rudd (6 October 2008). "Edited extract of the speech: The children of Gordon Gekko". The Australian. 
  13. ^ Krause-Jackson, Flavia (July 28, 2009). "Vatican Slams 'Greed Is Good' Wall Street Mantra". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  14. ^ Protess, Ben; Ahmed, Azam (2012-02-27). "Michael Douglas Tackles Greed for F.B.I". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (2012-02-27). "Gordon Gekko Is Cooperating with the FBI". The Wall Street Journal. 
  16. ^ "Gordon Gekko: Greed Is Bad". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-02-27. 
  17. ^ Strasburg, Jenny; Albergotti, Reed (2012-02-28). "Insider Targets Expanding". The Wall Street Journal. 
  18. ^ "Most Popular E-mail Newsletter". USA Today. 2012-02-27. 

External links[edit]