James Cayne, who ruled haunted bear Stearns, dies at 87

In 1969, after being pressured by his future wife, Patricia Denner, to find a job, Mr. Cayne was hired as a junior broker at Bear Stearns in New York City by Alan C. Greenberg, who would become the managing director of the company. and president.

Mr. Cayne’s skill at reading people – in card games or business meetings – has helped him rise through the ranks, though he’s also known for his straightforward mannerisms and salty language. In 1988 he was appointed chairman of the bank, and in 1993 he was appointed managing director, dismissing Mr. Greenberg.

“He could be charming anytime he wanted,” Mr. Greenberg wrote in “The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns,” “and he certainly worked hard to cultivate a friendship with me.” In this book – published in 2010, four years before his death – Mr. Greenberg described his successor as a greedy tyrant for money and status.

In contrast, Mr. Cayne won the fierce loyalty of his supporters, including Alan Schwartz, who succeeded him in 2008 to become the last CEO of Bear Stearns. Mr Schwartz, who is now the executive chairman of investment firm Guggenheim Partners, said in an intervIew that Mr. Cayne “had one of the brightest and most powerful minds I have ever interacted with.”

Following his retirement from Bear Stearns, Mr. Cayne devoted significant time to bridge, which he was still playing online the week before his death. He has won more than a dozen North American titles and has also competed at the world championships, his daughter Alison said.

Besides her, he is survived by his wife; another daughter, Jennice Schenker; his sister Merel; and seven grandchildren. Her first marriage ended in divorce.

“He understood, in the end, the money ended with him,” said Alison Cayne. “He made peace with the fact that he was not going to be able to change people’s perception of what happened.”


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