The Boesky name lives on in post-Gordon Gekko era

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong-based fund manager Aaron Boesky can take personal heart in the Wall Street motto 'greed is healthy'. The phrase was coined by his infamous cousin Ivan Boesky, a high-flying New York financier whose fall from grace and subsequent incarceration for insider trading came to symbolise the excess of the 1980s.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone is believed to have used a tweaked version of the motto - uttered by Boesky to the graduating class at UC Berkley in May 1986 - for the character of Gordon Gekko in his 1987 film Wall Street.

In November 1986, Ivan Boesky was given a 10-year sentence for fraud and illegal market manipulation, eventually reduced to 24 months. He also agreed to pay US$100 million in fines to settle outstanding lawsuits from his days at junk bond dealer Drexel Burnham Lambert. He served his sentence at Southern California's Lompoc Federal Prison, also known as Club Fed West.

Aaron Boesky, 29, says his cousin continues to live in California and is no longer involved in securities trading - in accordance with a lifetime ban from the industry, part of a condition handed down in the original sentencing. '[He] is considered one of Wall Street's greatest geniuses,' says Aaron Boesky. 'He remains an extremely positive figure amongst traders today, many of whom have followed in Ivan's footsteps as he invented the merger arbitrage trade.'

A Russian immigrant's son, Ivan Boesky would work 20-hour days specialising in trading the stock of companies targeted for takeover. Some say the leveraged buyouts popularised by Boesky and his colleague Michael Milkin heralded a new era by helping firms become more competitive.

Aaron Boesky says the Marco Polo China Fund has backing from his mother's side of the family, which operates a US$250 million real estate investment trust.