Ivan F. Boesky, Rogue Trader in 1980s Wall Street Scandal, Dies at 87


Ivan Boesky, the finance guy who coined the famous “greed is good” line and ended up in prison for a big insider trading scandal in the 80s, has passed away at 87, according to the New York Times. Boesky was a master at risk arbitrage, which is all about speculating on stocks during takeover deals. He was worth a whopping $280 million back then.

In a commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley business school in 1986, he famously said, “I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” But just a few months later, he got hit with charges that would ruin his reputation, bankrupt him, and land him in prison. Wall Street folks even gave him the nickname “Ivan the Terrible.”

Boesky made a name for himself by investing huge amounts of money in potential merger deals, causing the stock prices to rise just because he was involved. He claimed he only bought stocks after takeover bids were announced, but the Securities and Exchange Commission found out he was getting insider tips from investment bankers and using them illegally before the public knew about them.

To get a lighter sentence, Boesky cooperated with the government’s investigation into insider trading and supposedly recorded his conversations with business contacts. But even with that, he was seen as a snitch and became an outcast in the financial community, as his lawyer Leon Silverman said during his sentencing hearing.

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