James Cayne

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James Cayne
Portrait of James Cayne in 2007.jpg
Cayne in 2007
Born(1934-02-14)February 14, 1934
DiedDecember 28, 2021(2021-12-28) (aged 87)
EducationPurdue University (did not finish)
Known forCEO of Bear Stearns
SpousePatricia Denner
Children2; Grandchildren - 7
FamilyRichard C. Perry (nephew)

James E. "Jimmy" Cayne (February 14, 1934 – December 28, 2021) was an American businessman and CEO of Bear Stearns. In 2006, he became the first Wall Street chief to own a company stake worth more than $1 billion,[1] but he lost most of that in the 2007–2008 collapse of Bear's stock and sold his entire stake in the company for $61 million.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Cayne was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Jean and Maurice Cayne, a patent attorney.[3][4] Cayne attended Purdue University, but left before graduating to join the United States Army.[5] Cayne was a member of Kappa Beta Phi.[6]

His first job was as a traveling salesman; he then sold scrap iron and municipal bonds.[7] In 1969 he was playing bridge full-time in New York City when Alan C. Greenberg, then a relative novice at the bridge table, hired him as a stockbroker at Bear Stearns.[8] Cayne became president in 1985, CEO in 1993, and chairman of the board (while continuing as CEO) in 2001. He was replaced as CEO only in 2008[9] and he was with the company until its demise.


In 2005, Forbes magazine ranked him 384th among the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $900 million.[8] By 2008 Cayne had lost nearly 95% of his fortune as a result of the collapse of Bear Stearns.

Cayne has been the subject of various press reports since the Bear collapse, including the fact that he sold his stake in the company for $61 million after its crash.[2] On March 14, 2008, Charlie Gasparino of CNBC reported that the value of Cayne's holdings in Bear Stearns had declined from $997 million to significantly less than $200 million in the wake of Bear Stearns' liquidity crisis. Just days later, Bear Stearns came to an agreement with competitor JP Morgan for a full buyout at only $2 per share,[10] roughly $236 million for the entire firm. At the time, Cayne had significant exposure to the company's stock, with most of his net worth tied up in shares of the company. It is estimated that the value of Cayne's holdings had dropped to less than $15 million as a result, effectively removing him from the list of the wealthiest individuals in the country. On March 27, 2008, it was announced that Cayne sold his entire stake in Bear Stearns, over 5.61 million shares, for $10.82 a share.[11] This stake was sold prior to the vote on the renewed bid by JP Morgan for Bear Stearns.

In February 2009, Cayne was named in Time Magazine's list of "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis."[12] In addition to being named on this list, Time also alleged that of all the CEOs during the crisis, "none seemed more asleep at the switch" than Cayne.[12]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1971, Cayne married his second wife, Patricia Denner.[13] They had one child, Alison Cayne Schneider.[14] Alison is divorced from hedge fund manager Jack Schneider with whom she has five children.[14][15] He was uncle to hedge fund investor Richard Cayne Perry.[16]

Cayne had one child from his first marriage, Jennice Cayne Nienkerk, who has two daughters.

Cayne died on December 28, 2021, at the age of 87, at a hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey, from complications of a stroke.[17][18]


Cayne, himself a sound bridge player,[19][17] recruited international-class professionals to form teams that have won more than a dozen North American championships. For example, he hired one American and four Italian world champions to win the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams in November 2011, his sixth win in that teams-of-four competition.[20] His bridge career as a sponsor and player has resulted in attaining the ranks of ACBL Grand Life Master[21] and World Bridge Federation World Master.[22] In the biennial Bermuda Bowl world championship teams, his 1995 team USA1—one of two that represented the United States, a unique status—finished ninth (the lowest U.S. finish in the sixty-year history of the event), while Team USA2 placed first.[23] In March 2002, The New York Daily Sun announced that Cayne would be contributing a bridge column.[24][clarification needed]


  1. ^ Kate Kelly (November 1, 2007). "Bear CEO's Handling Of Crisis Raises Issues". Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ a b BBC staff (March 28, 2008). "Bear Stearns chairman sells stake". BBC News.
  3. ^ Landon Thomas, Jr. (March 28, 2003). "Distinct Culture at Bear Stearns Helps It Surmount a Grim Market". New York Times.
  4. ^ "James Cayne, CEO for Bear Stearns Rise and Fall, Dies at 87". Bloomberg.com. 28 December 2021.
  5. ^ Onaran, Yalman; Keoun Bradley (January 8, 2008). "Cayne to Step Down as Bear Stearns CEO, Person Says". Bloomberg News.
  6. ^ Roose, Kevin (2014). Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits. London, UK: John Murray (Publishers), An Hachette UK Company. p. 206. ISBN 978-1-47361-161-0.
  7. ^ Allen R. Myerson (July 14, 1993). "Careful Player Moves Closer To the Top at Bear Stearns". New York Times.
  8. ^ a b "#384 James Cayne". Forbes 400 (2005). Reprinted online under "The Forbes 400: The Richest People in America" (2012) without index to previous annual lists. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  9. ^ "The Bad Boys Of Bear Stearns: Where Are They Now?". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  10. ^ Cohan, William D. (2009). House of Cards. New York: Anchor Books. p. 121. ISBN 978-07679-3089-5.
  11. ^ David Ellis (March 27, 2008). "Bear Stearns' Cayne sells over $60M in stock". CNNMoney.com. Archived from the original on March 29, 2008.
  12. ^ a b "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis". Time. February 11, 2009. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2013.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ Fortune: "The rise and fall of Jimmy Cayne - Last summer he was worth $1.6 billion on paper. Then he nearly died and Bear Stearns collapsed." By William D. Cohan August 25, 2008
  14. ^ a b New York Times: "Home and Hearth, Deluxe Edition" By JULIE SATOW April 25, 2013
  15. ^ New York Times: "Once Around the Block, James, and Pick Me Up After My Nap" by ERIC KONIGSBERG January 24, 2007
  16. ^ Cathy Horyn (December 13, 2012). "What's a Store For?". The New York Times.
  17. ^ a b Hoffman, Liz (December 28, 2021). "Jimmy Cayne, Who Led Bear Stearns Before It Imploded, Dies at 87". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  18. ^ James Cayne, CEO for Bear Stearns Rise and Fall, Dies at 87
  19. ^ Landon Thomas, Jr. (June 29, 2007). "Salvaging a Prudent Name". New York Times.
  20. ^ "Cayne dominates in Reisinger Repeat Victory" Archived 2014-07-26 at the Wayback Machine. ACBL.
    (Here "Cayne" is the name of the team.)
  21. ^ "ACBL Grand Life Masters". ACBL.
  22. ^ "Jimmy CAYNE". World Bridge Federation: People. WBF.
  23. ^ "32nd World Team Championships: Results & Participants", 1995. World Bridge Federation.
  24. ^ Patrick McGeehan (March 24, 2002). "Private Sector; Call Him a Specialist In Bridge Financing". New York Times.

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