John Paulson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Paulson
John Alfred Paulson

(1955-12-14) December 14, 1955 (age 67)
New York City, U.S.
EducationNew York University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Known forFounder of Paulson & Co.
Political partyRepublican
Jenny Zaharia
(m. 2000)
Children2 daughters

John Alfred Paulson (born December 14, 1955) is an American billionaire hedge fund manager. He leads Paulson & Co., a New York-based investment management firm he founded in 1994.[1] He has been called "one of the most prominent names in high finance",[2] "a man who made one of the biggest fortunes in Wall Street history,"[3] and a "hedge fund swindler".[4]

His prominence and fortune were made in 2007 when he earned almost $4 billion and was transformed "from an obscure money manager into a financial legend"[3] by using credit default swaps to effectively bet against the U.S. subprime mortgage lending market. In 2010, Paulson earned $4.9 billion.[5] The Forbes real-time tracker estimated his net worth at $3 billion as of January 2023.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Paulson was born on December 14, 1955, in Queens, New York, the third of four children of Alfred G. Paulson[6][7][8] (1924–2002) and Jacqueline (née Boklan, 1926–2018).[9]

His father was born Alfredo Guillermo Paulsen in Ecuador to a father of half French and half Norwegian descent and an Ecuadorian mother. Alfredo was orphaned at fifteen and at age sixteen moved to Los Angeles with his younger brother Alberto. Alfredo enlisted in the US Army where he served and was wounded in Italy during World War II. He later changed his surname from Paulsen to Paulson.[7][9]

John's mother was the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Romania who had moved to New York City. Jacqueline met Alfredo while they both attended UCLA. They wed and moved to New York City, where Alfredo worked at Arthur Andersen[9] and later as the CFO at public relations firm Ruder Finn.[10][11]

Realizing that his previously chosen career path in sales would not provide a steady and secure cash flow, Paulson returned to NYU in 1976 where he began to excel in business studies.[9] In 1978, he graduated valedictorian of his class summa cum laude in finance from New York University's College of Business and Public Administration.[12] He went on to Harvard Business School, on a Sidney J. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs scholarship, earning an MBA as a George F. Baker Scholar (top 5 percent of his class) in 1980.[12]


Paulson began his career at Boston Consulting Group in 1980 where he did research, providing advice to companies. Ambitious to work in investment on Wall Street, he left to join Odyssey Partners where he worked with Leon Levy. He moved on to Bear Stearns working in the mergers and acquisitions department, and then to Gruss Partners LP, where he was a general partner.[13]

In 1994, he founded his own hedge fund, Paulson & Co., with $2 million and one employee,[14] located in office space rented from Bear Stearns on the 26th floor of 277 Park Avenue. The firm moved to 57th and Madison in 2001. By 2003, his fund had grown to $300 million in assets.[3]

Paulson and his company specialize in "event-driven" investments—i.e. in mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, proxy contests, etc.—and he has made hundreds of such investments throughout his career. Many of the events involved merger arbitrage—which has been described as waiting "until one company announces that it's buying another, rushing to purchase the target company's shares, shorting the acquirer's stock (unless it's a cash deal), and then earn the differential between the two share prices when the merger closes."[3] An example of a proxy event investment Paulson made was during Yahoo's proxy contest in May 2008, when Carl Icahn launched a proxy fight to try to replace Yahoo's board.[15]

In 2010, he set another hedge fund record by making nearly $5 billion in a single year,[1] primarily investing in the gold sector.[16] However, in 2011, he made losing investments in Bank of America,[1] Citigroup[1] and the fraud-suspected China-based Canadian-listed company, Sino-Forest Corporation.[1] His flagship fund, Paulson Advantage Fund, fell sharply in 2011. Paulson has also become a major investor in gold.[1]

Subprime Mortgage Crisis[edit]

Paulson became world-famous in 2007 by shorting the US housing market, as he foresaw the subprime mortgage crisis and bet against mortgage-backed securities by investing in credit default swaps. Sometimes referred to as the greatest trade in history, Paulson's firm made a fortune and he earned over $4 billion personally on this trade alone.[citation needed]

Paulson convinced Goldman Sachs to market risky home loans in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada as safe investments. Together, Paulson and Goldman created the Abacus 2007-AC1 investment vehicle and kept Paulson's bet against the underlying assets from people who purchased it. Paulson escaped indictment because his firm maintained that it was always transparent about its view of the mortgages that had been securitized. Goldman was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission and had to reach a settlement for their lies about Abacus.[17][18] On July 15, 2010, Goldman settled out of court, agreeing to pay the SEC and investors US$550 million, including $300 million to the U.S. government and $250 million to investors, one of the largest penalties ever paid by a Wall Street firm.[19]

Political and economic views[edit]

Paulson contributed $140,000 to political candidates and parties between 2000 and 2010, 45% of which went to Republicans, 16% to Democrats, and 36% to special interests,[20] including former House Speaker John Boehner.[3]

In 2011, Paulson donated $1 million to Mitt Romney's Super PAC Restore Our Future.[21] On April 26, 2012, Paulson hosted a fundraiser at his New York townhouse for Romney's presidential candidacy.[3]

Paulson received media attention after immediately backing Donald Trump after he secured the GOP nomination.[22][23] Paulson served as one of the top economic advisers to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[24][25]

In 2008, Paulson co-wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece suggesting an alternative to the Treasury Secretary's plan for stabilizing the markets. The alternative plan included recapitalizing the troubled financial institutions by spending the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to buy their senior preferred stock rather than their "worst assets".[26]

In 2008 while testifying before US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Paulson was asked about the low tax rate on long-term capital gains and carried interest earnings and Paulson replied "I believe our tax situation is fair."[3] In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek magazine he expressed displeasure over the Occupy Wall Street movement, noting:[3]

We pay a lot of taxes, especially living in New York—there's an almost 13 percent city and state tax rate.  ... Most jurisdictions would want to have successful companies like ours located there. I'm sure if we wanted to go to Singapore, they'd roll out the red carpet to attract us.

At the 2014 Puerto Rico Investment Summit in San Juan, Paulson stated: "Puerto Rico will become the Singapore of the Caribbean." Paulson was reportedly investing in the territory's municipal debt and real estate developments, and was building a home at a resort.[27]

In 2017, Paulson and his wife wrote a letter to the elite Manhattan Spence School, threatening to withdraw aid if the school continued its "alarming pattern" of "anti-white indoctrination". In the letter, they stated: "In fact for children of all races, we strongly believe that schools should value and define success in terms of hard work, earned accomplishment, merit, a commitment to academic rigor, and personal integrity."[28]

Wealth and philanthropy[edit]

Between 2009 and 2011 Paulson made several charitable donations, including $15 million to the Center for Responsible Lending, $20 million to New York University Stern School of Business (auditorium now named after Paulson), $5 million to the Southampton Hospital on Long Island, $15 million to build a children's hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and £2.5 million to the London School of Economics for the John A. Paulson Chair in European Political Economy.[29][30][31] In October 2012, Paulson donated $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that maintains New York City's Central Park. At the time of the donation, the gift represented the largest monetary donation in the history of New York City's park system.[32] In June 2015, Paulson donated $400 million to Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the largest gift received in the university's history. Following the donation, the engineering school was renamed the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.[33][34] The next month, he gifted $8.5 million to New York City's largest charter school organization, Success Academy, to change public education and open up middle schools in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn and in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan.[35]

In 2022, New York University announced that Paulson had donated $100 million towards the cost of a new building in its Washington Square Campus. The building was named the John A. Paulson Center in recognition of the gift. [36]

Personal life[edit]

In 2000, he married Jenny Zaharia, in an Episcopalian ceremony in Southampton, New York.[37] Jenny was a Romanian immigrant who came to the United States after her brother George, a track star in Romania, defected and moved to Queens.[9] They have two daughters, Giselle and Danielle,[38] and live most of the year in a 28,500-square-foot Upper East Side townhouse on East 86th Street, obtained for $14.7 million in 2004.[3] He also owns a home in Aspen purchased for $24.5 million in 2010 and an estate in Southampton that he bought for $41 million in 2008.[39][3][40] Paulson has an older sister named Theodora Bar-El, an Israeli biologist.

Paulson filed for divorce in September, 2021, but has withdrawn his divorce action so both sides can negotiate out of court and out of the media.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Forbes profile: John Paulson". Forbes. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  2. ^ DE LA MERCED, MICHAEL J. (October 23, 2012). "Central Park Draws a Huge Gift From a Fan in High Finance". New York Times. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "John Paulson's Very Bad Year" By Sheelah Kolhatkar|| 28 June 2012
  4. ^ Taibbi, Matt. The divide : American injustice in the age of the wealth gap. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2018. 328.
  5. ^ Wachtel, Katya (April 4, 2011). "The Top 25 Hedge Fund Earners In 2010". Business Insider. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  6. ^ "John Paulson Fast Facts". CNN. April 12, 2020. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b El Universo: "Familia de migrantes con raíces europeas" Archived 2014-02-19 at the Wayback Machine December 12, 2010 (in Spanish)
  8. ^ New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths PAULSON, ALFRED G." Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine July 25, 2002
  9. ^ a b c d e The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Changed Financial History Archived 2014-10-23 at the Wayback Machine p.16-25
  10. ^ Goldiner, Dave. "Queens-born John Paulson makes fortune on home foreclosures" Archived 2009-01-29 at the Wayback Machine. New York Daily News. January 16, 2008.
  11. ^ Dion, Don. "Fund Lessons From John Paulson" Archived 2012-10-05 at the Wayback Machine. The STREET. October 10, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Ahuja, Maneet. The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World's Top Hedge Funds. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
  13. ^ "John Paulson". CNBC. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  14. ^ Zuckerman, Gregory (2009). The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History. New York: Crown Publishing Group. pp. 32–3. ISBN 978-0-385-52994-5.
  15. ^ Checkler, Joseph. "Paulson Hedge Fund to Back Icahn" Archived 2017-08-12 at the Wayback Machine. The Wall Street Journal. May 15, 2008.
  16. ^ "How John Paulson Became a Billionaire in the Stock Market -". Archived from the original on 2017-11-21. Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  17. ^ "Securities and Exchange Commission vs Goldman Sachs & Co & Fabrice Tourre, Complaint (Securities Fraud)" (PDF). U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. April 16, 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "John A. Paulson Is Not Target of S.E.C. Inquiry", Dealbook. New York Times. April 17, 2010.
  19. ^ "Goldman Settles With S.E.C. for $550 Million". The New York Times. No. DealBook. United States. The New York Times Company. July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on July 8, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  20. ^ Campaign Contribution Search: John Paulson. Federal Election Commission data via NEWSMEAT. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Who’s Financing the ‘Super PACs’" Archived 2017-02-24 at the Wayback Machine. New York Times. February 1, 2012.
  22. ^ "Paulson's Bet on Trump Yields Power and Profit". 2016-11-21. Archived from the original on 2017-02-16. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  23. ^ Levin, Bess (21 November 2016). "Hedge-Fund Manager John Paulson Got Trump Elected, and Now He's Got a Favor to Ask". The Hive. Archived from the original on 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  24. ^ Tankersley, Jim (5 August 2016). "Donald Trump's new team of billionaire advisers could threaten his populist message". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  25. ^ Byrne, Brendan (7 August 2016). "Trump Names Economic Team, Includes John Paulson, No Carl Icahn". ValueWalk. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  26. ^ Paulson, John. "The Public Deserves a Better Deal" Archived 2017-08-12 at the Wayback Machine. Wall Street Journal. September 26, 2008.
  27. ^ Burton, Katherine (Apr 25, 2014). "Paulson as Cheerleader for Puerto Rico Sees Rich Influx". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2014-06-24. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Billionaire John Paulson rips elite Spence school for 'anti-white indoctrination'". New York Post. 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2020-07-08.
  29. ^ Kerpen, Phil. "SEC Probe Shouldn't Stop With Goldman Sachs" Archived 2010-04-23 at the Wayback Machine. Fox News. April 20, 2010.
  30. ^ "Hedge Fund Founder John A. Paulson Gives $20 Million to NYU Stern" Archived 2010-11-27 at the Wayback Machine. New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business. November 12, 2009.
  31. ^ Kroll, Luisa."John Paulson Pledges $15 Million In Ecuador". Forbes. November 23, 2010.
  32. ^ "A $100 Million Thank-You for a Lifetime’s Central Park Memories" Archived 2017-02-16 at the Wayback Machine New York Times October 23, 2012.
  33. ^ "Harvard receives its largest gift". June 3, 2015. Archived from the original on September 22, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  34. ^ Lewin, Tamar (June 3, 2015). "John Paulson Gives $400 Million to Harvard for Engineering School". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  35. ^ Gara, Antoine (30 July 2015). "Hedge Fund Billionaire John Paulson Gives $8.5 Million To Open New Success Academy Schools". Forbes. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  36. ^
  37. ^ The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Changed Financial History Archived 2014-10-23 at the Wayback Machine pp. 35-38.
  38. ^ Cunningham, Bill (December 14, 2008). "EVENING HOURS; Family Fetes" Archived 2017-02-20 at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times.
  39. ^ McShane, Larry. "John Paulson, hedge fund heavyweight, raked in $5 billion last year, roughly $13.7 million a day". Daily News (New York). January 29, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  40. ^ "Jenny Paulson, wealthiest Romanian woman in the world. Her wealth stands at 7 billion dollars". The Bucharest Herald. November 22, 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  41. ^ "Billionaire John Paulson's wife found out about divorce from media". Fox Business. 5 October 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Welling, Kate; Gabelli, Mario (2018). Merger Masters: Tales of Arbitrage. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 99–108. ISBN 978-0-231-19042-8.

External links[edit]