Ivan Boesky

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Ivan Boesky
Ivan Frederick Boesky

(1937-03-06) March 6, 1937 (age 86)
Alma materMichigan State University
OccupationFormer stock trader
Known forInsider trading scandal
Seema Silberstein
(m. 1962; div. 1991)

Ivan Frederick Boesky (born March 6, 1937) is a former American stock trader who became infamous for his prominent role in an insider trading scandal that occurred in the United States during the mid-1980s.[1] He was charged and pled guilty to insider trading, was fined a record $100 million, served three years in prison and became an informant.

Early life and education[edit]

Boesky was born to a Jewish family[2][3] in Detroit, Michigan. His family owned several delicatessens and taverns in the city.[3] He attended the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills before graduating from Detroit's Mumford High School. He then attended courses at Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. Despite lacking an undergraduate degree, he was admitted to Detroit College of Law (now Michigan State University College of Law) and graduated during 1965. In the 1980s, he served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and at New York University's Graduate School of Business.[4]

During 1962, he married Seema Silberstein, the daughter of a Detroit real estate magnate whose holdings included The Beverly Hills Hotel in California. After his father-in-law’s death, Boesky and Seema won a court battle with her sister and brother-in-law over the hotel’s ownership.[3]


In 1966, Boesky and his wife relocated to New York where he worked for several stock brokerage companies, including L.F. Rothschild and Edwards & Hanly. In 1975, he initiated his own stock brokerage company, Ivan F. Boesky & Company, with $700,000 (equivalent to $3.5 million in 2021) worth of start-up money from his wife’s family[3] with a business plan that speculated on corporate takeovers. Boesky's company grew from profits as well as buy-in investments from new partnerships. By 1986, Boesky had become an arbitrageur who had amassed a fortune of more than US$200 million by betting on corporate takeovers and the $136 million in proceeds from the sale of The Beverly Hills Hotel.[5] Boesky was on the cover of Time magazine December 1, 1986.[6]

In 1986, Boesky entered into a plea agreement with the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, agreeing to plead guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Violations of the Federal Securities Laws. [7] Boesky used inside information provided by Robert Wilkis and Ira Sokolow, two investment bankers, and purchased securities for entities Boesky was affiliated with.[8] The inside information typically involved tender offers, mergers or other possible business combinations, for companies such as Nabisco Brands, Inc., R.J. Reynolds, and Houston Natural Gas Corp.[9]

Although insider trading of this kind was illegal, laws prohibiting it were rarely enforced until Boesky was prosecuted.[10] Boesky cooperated with the SEC and informed on others, including the case against financier Michael Milken. As a result of a plea bargain, Boesky received a prison sentence of 3+12 years and was fined US$100 million. Although he was released after two years, he was permanently prohibited from working with securities. He served his sentence at Lompoc Federal Prison Camp near Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Boesky, unable to rehabilitate his reputation after being released from prison, paid hundreds of millions of dollars as fines and compensation for his Guinness share-trading fraud role and a number of separate insider-dealing scams. Later, Boesky began practicing Judaism and attended classes at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he had been a major donor; however, during 1987, after the fallout from his financial scandal, The New York Times reported that "after Ivan F. Boesky had been fined $100 million in the insider-trading scandal, the Jewish Theological Seminary, acting at his request, took his name off its $20 million library."[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1991, he divorced his wife and she agreed to pay him $23 million and $180,000 a year for life.[5] They have four children.[5] His daughter Marianne is an art dealer. His second wife is Ana Boesky and they have a child. They live in La Jolla, California.[12][13] Stuart J. Boesky is his first cousin.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

The character of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street (1987) is based at least in part on Boesky, especially regarding a famous speech he delivered in May 1986 on the positive aspects of greed during a commencement ceremony at the Haas School of Business of UC Berkeley, where he said in part "I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".[15][16][17]

Boesky has been featured in a CNBC documentary entitled the Empires of New York.[18]

The conviction of Boesky is referenced at various points in the television film Barbarians at the Gate (1993).

He is referenced by The 80s Guy in the "Future Stock" episode of Futurama.

In the season 2, episode 3 of the USA Network series Psych entitled "Psy Vs Psy", Boesky is referenced as being personally arrested by the major character of the episode, Special Agent Lars Ewing of the Federal Treasury Department.

In Season 2, Episode 18 of the series Gilmore Girls titled "Back in the Saddle Again", Rory's classmate says "I feel like Ivan Boesky" when Chip sees what Richard and Paris have set up for the economics class business fair group project meeting.

In season 1, episode 20 of Robocop: The Series, the Chairman of OCP states he attended Ivan Boesky Elementary Business School.


  1. ^ Meserve, Myles. "Meet Ivan Boesky, The Infamous Wall Streeter Who Inspired Gordon Gekko". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  2. ^ The New York Jewish Week: "Is Greed Godly?" by David E. Y. Sarna December 3, 2010
  3. ^ a b c d Haaratz: "This Day in Jewish History / A masterful Wall Street con man is arrested - Ivan Boesky elevated insider trading to an art form. The police didn't see it that way, though." by David B. Green November 14, 2013
  4. ^ Boesky, Ivan F., Merger Mania, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1985.
  5. ^ a b c Westchester Magazine: "Seema Boesky’s Rich Afterlife - Juggling philanthropy, business, family, and love" By Nicholas Spangler with Esther Davidowitz November 2010
  6. ^ Ivan Boesky at the TIME archive
  7. ^ The Law of Insider Trading, How They Get Caught, SEC Commissioner Cox Remarks to the Piedmont Economic Club (PDF), November 20, 1986
  8. ^ Cox Speech
  9. ^ Cox Speech
  10. ^ "Ivan Boesky - Sam Waksal - Insider Trading - Wall Street". New York. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  11. ^ Goldman, Ari L. (July 23, 1987). "Boesky Studying Hebrew and Talmud at Seminary". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Inside the Life of Westchester's Seema Boesky". 20 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Miracle Babies Patron Party". 8 October 2015.
  14. ^ Vivian Marino (September 4, 2012). "THE 30-MINUTE INTERVIEW - Stuart J. Boesky" The New York Times
  15. ^ Dickerson, John F. (2001-06-24). "Battling Boeskys". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  16. ^ Greene, Bob (15 December 1986). "A $100 Million Idea: Use Greed For Good". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  17. ^ "Commencement Speakers". berkeley.edu. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  18. ^ Huddleston, Tom Jr. (2020-11-28). "Meet Ivan Boesky, the 1980s Wall Street titan who inspired Hollywood — and ended up in jail". CNBC. Retrieved 2021-02-09.

External links[edit]