The guy known for taking big risks took one too many in not making a deal to sell Lehman earlier this year. Fuld bought up mortgage-backed derivatives last summer, even though Lehman had been primarily a bond-trading specialist, hoping to make a mint when the housing crisis passed. It didn't. Having steered the investment bank through a few near-death episodes since assuming the top job when the firm spun off from American Express in 1994, Fuld's love and loyalty of Lehman may have caused him to underestimate the degree of the current crisis. Or he may have overestimated his ability to manage it.
The 62 year-old spent last week holed up on the 31st floor of Lehman's midtown headquarters, in desperate search of a buyer. Korean Development Bank emerged with an offer to purchase the bank at $26 a share. Fuld rebuffed the offer as too cheap. Outside the Lehman's headquarters on Monday an artist brandished a life-size poster with Fuld's face on it, covered in penned messages Lehman staffers in green ink, regular public in black like a page out of a high school yearbook. The notes were not nice. A former Lehman employee, who left the firm a few years back, paid $10,000 for the memento.
By Kristina Dell
Next Robert Willumstad