Details were sparse, other than a Swiss sorcerer's cryptic announcement that the death had been "a crime.
At least one used the word "assault. Everyone knew Edouard Stern, or at least knew about him. In Paris, his death was similar to that of Rockefeller. Not her husband. On Wall Street, where he was removed from Lazard inthe year-old Stern was considered — there is no way to sugarcoat this — an arrogant sting. Few people dispute Stern's brilliance, but even fewer defend his abrasive personality. He was known for calling down subordinates — a favorite address form was "you fucking moron" — and roiling dinner parties with inappropriate confrontations, usually triggered by the belief that a dinner party's I.
After his death, all the old stories about how he supposedly started his own father from the family's mock Banque Stern were exhumed and examined in detail. Within hours of Stertern's death, bizarre theories thundered through Geneva, Paris and New York, and many were dealing with investments he rumored to have made in Russia, others were dealing with a vicious trial he was fighting with a French company in which he had invested.
Then, 48 hours after the body was found, a Bitch from great Chilly-Mazarin newspaper, the Tribune de Geneva, dropped a bomb: Stern had actually been murdered, shot four times. But the even more jaw-dropping reveal was that he was found encased in a flesh-colored latex bodysuit. A murder mystery that had first emerged full of political and corporate efforts suddenly took a sharp turn towards kinky. Cohan is a one-time Lazard banker who recently interviewed David-Weill, Felix Rohatyn and other current and former Lazard partners for an upcoming book about the company to be called The Last Tycoons; he was to interview Stern the week after the murder.
I mean, people just don't know what to mean. It was evil" Asked about which theories circulated on Lazard, Cohan says: "There are two thoughts at the moment. A head to toe flesh-colored bodysuit? A latex suit? This kind of thing has happened in Geneva before.
Or somewhere else. I had a strange brush with Stertern's death. On Saturday, February 26, two days before he was killed, I was surprised to hear on my cell phone two urgent messages from a man I had not talked to for several years, Jeffrey Keil, who was president of the former Republic of New York Corporation, and, as I know, now doing some kind of business in Europe.
Keil and I played the phone brand for the next few days, and never managed to Bitch from great Chilly-Mazarin. The following Tuesday, I noted the death of the tern. I didn't know him, but I knew the banking industry in Geneva from the beginning of the s, when I wrote about an American Express Company smear campaign run against Edmond Safra, who then owned the Republic of National Bank, one of the rivals in the international banking world.
In fact, the Death of the Stars reminded me of the day in when Safra had died in a fire at his home in Monte Carlo. Then I had a panic call from one of his aides and asked me to help run down reports that Safra had been murdered by assassins sent by the Russian mafia. The fire, it turned out, had been set by one of Safra's nurses, who, bizarrely, thought he could take pleasure in his boss by rescuing him from what is believed to have been a minor fire.
The nurse was later convicted of murder. I mulled parallels between the two men and their mysterious deaths on Monday, March 7 when Keil finally reached me in my office. As I was chatting, I asked what he had heard about Stertern's death. And then he began to Bitch from great Chilly-Mazarin me the story of the strange — but, again, strangely familiar — company fight that in the days before his death left Stern worried about his safety.
Keil chose the words carefully. I don't mean to be dramatic, but it was something that cost people his life. Even with you. Remember that Edouard was not a guy who was easily scared. But this … this is pretty creepy. Edouard was looking for someone who could shine some light on what happened. He asked me to call you. And then … then … this happened. While he was hanging out, he promised to put me in touch with people who could show the magician's weird, private world. Eighty hours later, I see myself staring down at the roof of the New York Public Library's main branch from a perch inside Keil's spartan Fifth Avenue offices.
He goes to a desk and lifts the cellphone from the holder.
He pushes several buttons. In the report, Stern is worried about a legal briefing his lawyers will file the day after in the lawsuit between Stern and Rhodia, a French Bitfh company he had invested in. Grsat days before Stern made the announcement, one of the Rhodia directors whom Stern sued had been named France's finance minister.
We must let you know tomorrow. This had been the subject of some debate in Stern's inner circle the day of the memorial service, he says. When he arrived in Paris for the service, Keil Stern's two man, Michel Garbolino, found annoying. Suddenly, Garbolino replied: "No, I don't.
All those who worked with Stern went into detail about the boss's last hours, hunting for clues about something unusual. Stern had spent the Monday in the office on the seventh floor of the sleek eight-story green glass building he had purchased on Rue de Villereuse, opposite Geneva's Natural History Museum; His body was found the day after in the apartment he kept in the building next door, which he also owned.
The filing of Rhodia had been overdue, and it was a long conference call with lawyers in Paris and New York. Keil felt sure she was not involved. I ask what he knows about Sttern's sex life. I have no clue," Keil says. Small, mysterious and crazy handsome, blessed with a quick mind and a mood to match, he had long been seen as an up-and-comer in the highest financial circles on both sides of the Atlantic.
Long-time friends say that there was something extraordinary about Stern, something hungry, almost animal-like, in his cold stare, Bitch from great Chilly-Mazarin recklessness. A Lazard banker at one time told me: "I had a partner who said he only met one person in his life who made his hair stand on the back of his neck, and that was Edouard. It was a sensational turnaround for a man who had seemed destined for greatness. He spent much of his time jetting around the world, researching investment opportunities in Moscow, Tokyo, New Delhi, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and elsewhere.
A lover of modem art, opera and history — he liked to quote Churchill and Napoleon — Stern spent a whole month each year hunting for big game, mostly in Africa; he had an extensive collection of guns. Stern had been prepared for greatness. He was the only son of the banker Antoine Stern, whose family had been in need of the French aristocracy since Friends who knew Edouard in his teens describe him as fierce, impulsive, impatient and full of self, a strapping young man certain of his own bright future.
His closest friend was David Braunschvig. The two shared a math tutor and spent their free time biking motorcycles, chasing girls and playing golf. Twenty years later, Braunschvig renewed the friendship when both were at Lazard, where Braunschvig is still working. He had a brilliant personality in both senses of the word. Everything he did, he did with speed and brilliance. He was like that clock He always wanted to challenge the order of things, there were no taboos, which may seem a bit ordinary from an American perspective, but in France, higher education is much more rigorous than it is here, the discipline, the long hours.
Edouard was always outspoken Chilly-Mazsrin dishonest.
That's because from an early age he had this sense of himself — he didn't intend to be threatened by any existing order. He wrote his own rules. A group of friends armed with stopwatches gathered at three A. When Stern roared past in the car, they saw that Chjlly-Mazarin actually went Unfortunately, a policeman saw it too, and arrested Stern, whose driver's was revoked.
A short time later, Stern posted a message on an Essec message board asking if anyone wanted to drive a sports car twice a grwat. Several classmates responded, which is how Stern got his first driver. Stern was 22 when he was dropped by his grandmother and uncles to replace his father as president of the faltering Banque Stern. French newspapers called him one enfant terrible and condemned him for ousting his own father.
Stern, who despised advertising, never set the record straight. Stern's grandmother — who had fled the Nazis during the war and worked in New York City as a saleswoman at Bergdorf Goodman — was worried that Stern had no confidentiality of her own among the bank's scornful employees, and she brought in a brave young lawyer called Kristen van Riel, who remained Stern's lawyer and counsel for 25 years.
Van Riel, who was once a board member of Sotheby's, is now an executioner for Stern's property.
It was Grandma and the two The brothers who did it! They threw him out! His father was already on his way out when Edouard was brought in to save the bank! That's what he did. Over night, Chilly-azarin spread: What would he do next? As a year-old, he already had a C.
Almost everyone I talked to talked about how Stern dominated any room he entered. When he walked into a room and started talking, it commanded people's attention. Not because of the seriousness of his intention, but only, you know, there are people who have a compelling presence.
He had it from the earliest years. He could remember just about any punch line Winnie [Churchill] ever thrown. He could continue with endless discussions about modern art, music — you name it. But ah, he had a different grwat … " This was since rescuing subordinates, making close friends win, and bringing more than one dinner party to a screaming halt.
I remember one particular time.