Sometimes timing makes you wonder.Think Martha Stewart’s conversations with a junior broker before a certain stock tanked. Or Bear Stearns executives possibly dumping stock before the March implosion.
Rewind to last June. Here in Central Texas, it was rainy. Half-way across the country in Manhattan, it was sunny — especially from the balcony of The Blackstone Group’s co-founder, Stephen Schwartzman’s $37 million apartment. Schwartzman just brought his company public, a business he practiced for a living. That’s what Blackstone does: buys lower valued companies, props them up, and then sells them to the public. This one deal netted Schwartzman a sizeable chunk of $2.6 billion, which he shared with the other co-founder. But, that’s not all. According to NY Daily News, Schwartzman pocketed a cool $5 billion in 2007. That’s billion with a “B”.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Bloomberg reminded us today this whole thing happened 6 weeks before the subprime fiasco slammed Wall Street. In other words, Schwartzman’s big payday was perfectly timed by Blackstone insiders. A quarter before, he doesn’t make near the payout. A quarter later, the deal may not even go through. A year later, the market thinks they were jilted 41% – quite a discount from the original IPO.
Going back to his business, Schwartzman made it his ambition to know a stock’s “low” and “high” price. Any high school economics student will tell you what to do when you know that. It sure seems Schwartzman and Company saw the top before it was coming.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming Schwartzman for a little capitalistic ambition. He’s within his rights, and the law, to make as much money as is humanly possible. If it’s $5 billion one year, then more power to him. But it would be nice to check the paper trail on this deal.
By the way, if you’re wondering how Schwartzman’s is spending his gains, check out the gilded-age opulence of his 60th birthday bash. To celebrate the occasion, Schwartzman dressed the part of James Bond and transformed the Park Avenue Armory into a replica of his apartment — complete with full length portrait of himself. Carousing with Bond girls to the tune of Rod Stewart (in person) and to the jokes of Martin Short, this guy makes Dennis Kozlowski, of Tyco fame, looks like Q.