Photo: Alan Levenson/Getty Images
We can’t wait for this.The February issue of Vanity Fair will include The Ghost In The Gulf Stream, an intimate look at private equity investor Teddy Forstmann. He was a black jack player, an art collector, a philanthropist, and a larger-than-life figure during Wall Street’s infamous leveraged buy-out era.
In fact, he plays a role in Barbarians at the Gate, the infamous story of RJR Nabisco’s massive leveraged buy-out.
Forstmann died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 71. Before his death however, Vanity Fair writer Rich Cohen was taking on a task that other writers before him had found themselves unequal to — acting as ghost-writer for Forstmann’s life story.
What Cohen took from that experience was the portrait of a man who felt alone in crowds of people, whose conception of himself was different from his appearance to others, and who very much felt like the paterfamilias to everyone around him.
From Vanity Fair’s preview.
Cohen traveled to Paris, London, Southampton, and New York with Forstmann. While watching the French Open from IMG’s box at centre court Forstmann spots a pretty girl. “What do you think if I went over and just told her, Hey, my name is Forstmann, and I happen to own the biggest modelling agency in the world.” Soon after, he decides that he should write her a note and that Cohen should take it to her. Cohen thinks better of it. “Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Stupid idea,” Forstmann says, then he gets on the phone to New York. When a man in the adjoining box hushes him, Forstmann replies “You are completely correct, sir. What I’m doing is incredibly rude. I apologise.” He resumes his phone conversation, saying, “Oh, I don’t know. Some f**king British assh*le in the next box.”
In London, Forstmann tries to get Cohen to play blackjack with him at a private gambling club where the bets go into thousands of pounds. “I’ll play for you,” Forstmann says when Cohen refuses, “and your wife—what’s her name?” Jessica, Cohen tells him. “Good, I’ll play for Jessica too. And the kids.” Cohen recalls watching Forstmann at the table: “It was like seeing into his brain, his talent at work, the same mechanism that always discovered the hidden value. I was watching an artist.” When he finishes, he drops a pile of chips into Cohen’s hand, saying: “You and your kids lost, but your wife, she did pretty well.”
Rest in peace, Teddy. We can’t wait to read more about your life.