Although 30 Crown Lane had been sitting on the market for close to two years, it had recently drawn the interest of another financier, a partner at the old-line Wall Street investment bank Bear Stearns named Robert “Bobby” Steinberg. There was nothing particularly unusual about the house, according to Jean Ruggiero, the real estate agent who was working with Steinberg, but there were very few properties on the market of that scale, with so much land attached. Steinberg was the head of Bear’s risk arbitrage department. He and his wife, Suzanne, had a large family and had decided to make an offer on the house. That night, after contacting the selling broker with the Steinberg’s offer, Ruggiero called Steinberg back.
“You’re not going to believe this,” she said, “but someone else also made a bid on the house.” This was a highly unusual situation. There were few houses on the market at that price level, and bidding wars over $14 million properties were practically unheard-of.
Steinberg suspected that something perverse was going on; after failing to attract any interest for months, another offer had suddenly materialized at the same moment as his? He raised his offer anyway, and the other bidder raised as well. Ruggiero went back to deliver the news to Steinberg, who said that he was still determined to buy the house. He told Ruggiero to call the seller’s broker again and relay that he would pay $25,000 above any other competing bid, irrespective of what it was. Ruggiero was sure that would settle the matter. But when she made the new offer, the seller’s agent just laughed; the other budder had apparently told the seller’s agent that he didn’t care what the amount was, and that he was paying cash. He’d specifically said: “I’m standing here in Stamford with my checkbook, and I’ll write out a check right now.
Ruggiero pressed the agent to tell her who the other buyer was. Then she called Steinberg back.
“It’s someone named Stevie Cohen,” she said. Steinberg had never heard of him.
The above comes from Sheelah Kolhatkar’s incredible new book, Black Edge, which you should go buy and start reading right now.
Long story short, Cohen gets a call from Steinberg, who offers him a million bucks to walk away from the house. Cohen suggests they flip a coin instead. Steinberg wisely retreats – he had no idea what kind of money (and person) he was dealing with. He wasn’t ready, nor was the rest of the Wall Street establishment.
Get it here: