Wall Street’s titans mourn the loss of legendary rainmaker Jimmy Lee

Jimmy Lee

Prominent JPMorgan investment banker Jimmy Lee died unexpectedly on Wednesday morning after reportedly experiencing shortness of breath while running a treadmill in his Darien, Conn. home. He was 62.

Lee was a legend on Wall Street. He has factored prominently in many multi-billion dollar transactions, including some of the key deals that took place in the darkest days of the 2008 financial crisis.

Over the years, Lee made his bones on Wall Street financing some enormous deals. This includes untangling financial messes at companies like General Motors and Chrysler during the financial crisis, and also refinancing $US30 billion in Sallie Mae debt prior to that. A 2009 story in TheStreet quotes ex-News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch saying it was Lee who was the mind behind his $US5 billion acquisition of Dow Jones.

Other mega deals for the JPMorgan star banker include the United-Continental merger, the IPOs of Visa and General Motors, Dell’s take-private in 2013, and more recently the Alibaba IPO, the largest ever.

Lee certainly had an impressive and successful career on the Street, but those who knew him best said that he was always much prouder of being a good dad and husband.

Business Insider reached out to many folks in the industry to talk about their time with one of the most prolific Wall Street dealmakers. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “I love the guy,” an emotional Jack Welch said. “Everyone who dealt with him knew he was playing with all the cards straight up. He had the highest integrity you could imagine. He had your best interests at heart as a client.”
  • Welch, who was a mentor of Lee’s, added: “[He was] a family man. A Williams [College] devotee. He was very close with his kids. He was just a good man. I mean this is so shocking. He was in perfect condition. I worked out in the gym with him on the weekends and he would be working as hard as you can imagine. He always took care of himself in what he ate and he’s the last guy you would ever think.”
  • “Jimmy loved Wall Street more than anyone I’ve ever known,” Daniel Loeb, the founder of Third Point LLC said. “He wasn’t driven by money or deals but by his passion for people. There was no more loyal friend to be had on Wall Street, nor anyone whose wise counsel I valued more.”
  • Loeb continued: “My last correspondence with Jimmy was a note from him titled “Bragging”, where he told me about his son’s admission into a highly competitive securities analysis program at Columbia Business School. He signed off by telling me that despite his long and successful career, his “greatest accomplishment” was his children. With Jimmy’s passing, our community lost a little bit of its humanity and I lost the closest thing I’ve had to a big brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, who we discussed frequently, and who he was devoted to and loved so much.”
  • “Jimmy was a terrific friend, a fierce competitor, and a very proud father,” said Goldman Sachs President/COO Gary Cohn. “He will be deeply missed.”
  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon chimed in, as part of a broader statement he released at the bank: “Jimmy was a master of his craft, but he was so much more — he was an incomparable force of nature.”
  • “Jimmy was a friend and mentor to me who was never too busy to take my call or help me grow the firm as I have rebuilt it,” said Alexandra Lebenthal, CEO of Lebenthal Holdings. “I would not be where I am today without his trust, support and friendship.”
  • “So sad about passing of Jimmy Lee. A friend and mentor to me and so many others. His legacy will live on in everyone he helped and inspired,” Marc Andreessen Tweeted.
  • “Jimmy, above all was a passionate servant of the capital process. His dedication to his clients transcended the particular transaction being executed. If Jimmy was in your corner you could not be defeated. A devout patriot, a better friend . The light of capitalism will be forever dimmed. We lost a giant today,” Vincent Viola, the executive chairman of Virtu Financial, said.
  • “In the 21 years I knew him, since I was 14, he first loved his family so much. I was a young pup on Wall Street and he knew me by name. He was so competitive…[He] loved helping create and finance new companies. He never forgot if you did him a favour. He is what I aspired to be on Wall Street. Everybody respected him,” Joseph Quintilian, a partner at Axiom Markets, said.

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