The Big Sell-Off

Gulf + Western slims down

Charles Bluhdorn was one of the earliest and flashiest corporate conglomerateurs, a master of the unfriendly takeover. Starting with a small auto-parts company in 1958, he assembled an incredible array of disparate businesses into Gulf & Western Industries (1982 sales: $5.3 billion). Bluhdorn eventually bought some 100 companies large and small, ranging from Paramount Pictures to publisher Simon & Schuster to New York City's Madison Square Garden. In one six-year period, he brought 80 firms into what became jokingly known as "Engulf and Devour." Bluhdorn died in February...

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