13 April 2009

Will the Real Slim Shady please stand up?

Forget about Bernie Madoff for a minute. Let's talk about Marc Dreier. His story is the stuff movies are made about. I can't believe it's not getting as much press as Madoff.


Dreier’s motives were at once shallow and profound. Even by New York standards, he was wildly ambitious. It wasn’t enough for him to be a successful lawyer; he had to be the most successful lawyer in town, and he needed everyone else to know about it. You could see his obsession reflected in the $10 million Beacon Court condominium, the fully staffed $18 million 123-foot yacht, the $40 million in Warhols and Lichtensteins and other artworks, the Aston Martin, BMW, and two Mercedes, the two Hamptons homes, the Anguilla property, the Park Avenue headquarters with his name emblazoned on the side, the star-studded charity golf tournament, the girls. When he’d couldn’t come by all of that honestly, it seems, he found another way. The whole operation was audacious to the point of sheer recklessness—from the start, he was just one due-diligence phone call from being found out—yet the very boldness of his plan was central to its success. Who would believe that such a respected and apparently successful attorney would knowingly peddle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of nothing?


After law school, Dreier went to work as a white-collar defense litigator at the New York firm Rosenman & Colin. “He was one of the shining stars,” says Donald Citak, a former colleague. “He was ambitious, bright, and full of energy—hyper but personable.” Dreier pitched on the company softball team and was always up for drinks, often at the Beach CafĂ© at 70th Street and Second Avenue, a few blocks from his bachelor apartment on York Avenue. But even Dreier’s friends didn’t fully trust him. “He never put other people’s interests first,” one friend says, “and he’d make no bones about it. Part of him wanted to have friends, but all of him wanted to be admired.”


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