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Ivan Boesky - A Golden Opportunity

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Ivan Frederick Boesky was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1937. His father, William H. Boesky, had immigrated to America from Ykaterinoslav, Russia, in 1912. William ran a chain of bars in Detroit. Ivan spent two years at Cranbrook, a prestigious prep school (private school where students prepare for Ivan Boesky. (© Bettmann/Corbis)
college) outside of Detroit where he distinguished himself as an outstanding wrestler. He graduated from an inner-city school called Mumford High and went on to several colleges but never completed a degree.

Ivan eventually enrolled at the Detroit College of Law, which did not require a college degree for admission. He graduated in 1964. While working as a law clerk for a federal district court judge in 1960, Ivan met Selma Silberstein and they married. Soon after they had their first child, Billy, and in 1966 they moved to New York City where Ivan started a new career trading stocks.

In his thirties, Ivan had found work at several securities firms on Wall Street but had little success. As a result he decided to start his own trading firm. With financial help from his in-laws, he opened and was managing partner for the Ivan F. Boesky Corporation in 1975. Boesky's specialty was trading stock in companies targeted by other companies for takeover. The companies were typically in trouble financially and their stock values had fallen. A takeover by a healthy company, however, would often send the stock prices soaring. Boesky's success in speculating on these stocks made him one of the richest traders on Wall Street by the 1980s. In 1981 he became chairman and chief executive officer of the Boesky Corp.

Boesky developed a working relationship with Drexel Burnham Lambert, a New York investment bank where Dennis Levine was a managing editor and Michael Milken (1946–; see sidebar) was a financial executive. Boesky and Levine made a deal in which Boesky would pay a percentage of his profits to Levine for insider tips on upcoming company mergers, trades, or takeovers. This highly illegal activity is called insider trading.

Ivan Boesky - White-collar Crime [next]

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over 10 years ago

While going through some old scrapbooks belonging to my parents, I found cocktail napkins (still in perfect condition) from The Brass Rail Chop House, on Grand Circus in Detroit, MI. The back of the napkins read, "Hosts to Detroit", and are signed by both William and Ivan Boesky. Neat pieces of history!