Michelle David Weil: Death of the “Last Emperor of Wall Street”


IHe has just resigned as chairman of the board of investment company Eurazeo. It was March 22, the last general meeting was full of emotion, when they saw how this great French figure in the field of finance resigned from his last term in 89 years. Michelle David-Weil died on the night of Thursday, June 16 to Friday, June 17 in New York., only a few weeks after he left the scene. His life reads like a novel. He was the direct successor to the co-founder of Lazard, the legendary Franco-American investment bank. This father of four daughters headed the family bank in 1977 and left it twenty-five years later, in 2001. During his reign, the prestigious Lazard Bank became one of the world’s leaders in mergers and acquisitions. . He was nicknamed “the last Emperor of Wall Street.”

“He was endowed with great intelligence, he was adamant in his case, but he was even more gifted at judging people, their strengths and weaknesses. His charm, balance, calm and precise diction did not indicate his clear judgments. He was a smiling killer, “recalls Lazard’s former colleague. Michelle David-Weil is king at home, in a bank, and divides her time between offices in Paris and offices in New York. He manages the mayors from the palace. Bruno Roger was charismatic and powerful in France for a long time.

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Only Michel had the right to close the door of his huge office.Friend

In the room on Osmanna Boulevard, partners never close the door to their separate office. This is strange and contradictory, because prudence is the main virtue in this house, but it requires a sponsorship system… Theoretically, the partners have no secrets from each other. “Only Michel had the right to close the doors of his huge office,” continues a friend. Managing partners are able to recognize the small step of “Michel” when he wanders the corridors. Always smiling, the boss brings small things to the bank, but acts like a lord in his kingdom. He never raises his voice. But he is feared and feared, because it is he who decides on the distribution of partners “interest in the company”, which determines their annual income.

Until the company was founded in 1844, it will remain the one that managed to unite the three “houses” of the bank: British, French and American. Successful merger in 2000. Until that date, the three entities operated at best independently of each other, and at worst, by participating in relentless competition.

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tragic death Edward Stern and the flight of talent

Michelle David-Weil has dealt with many crises. The most difficult will be because in 1992, Edward Stern, the husband of his eldest daughter Beatrice, became the managing partner. Many brilliant like-minded people, including Jean-Marie Messier, left the bank, thinking that Stern, with his cruel and excessive temperament, would undoubtedly become the appointed successor of Michel David-Weil.

However, the story does not end there, and Stern takes turns leaving Lazard a few years later and dies, killed by his mistress in 2005. Michelle David-Vale spoke about his ex-son-in-law Release in 2007: “I’m not surprised that Edward died violently. He was an extremely intelligent and seductive, but quite destructive man. He had a taste for risk, which put him in great danger. »

Michelle David-Weil tries to let go and keep the best. In the United States, Felix Rogatin, a close friend of Kennedy, a very influential figure, leaves Lazarus. Moreover, it is because of the Atlantic that autumn will come… American partners insist that Lazard be listed on the stock market, they want to destroy this sponsorship system that blocks all the bank’s capital. “It causes an incredible number of meetings, a fight between Paris and New York, which lasts for months,” said a former employee of the house. Lazard is listed on the stock exchange, and David Vale cites Bruce Wasserstein, a well-known name from Wall Street and a real fox who manages to get Michelle to sign a contract that “allows” him to remove him from the presidency. so? Michelle signed his own death sentence without knowing it. In 2005, it was over, and Michelle David-Weil lost a bank run by his grandfather and father. He finds refuge in Eurazeo, the historic investment holding company of the Lazard Galaxy. Since then, the company has invested and acquired stakes in many large global groups: Danone, Rexel, Accor, Foncia, Europcar and even Eutelsat.

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Collector of Ingres and Coro

Michelle David-Weil represents the figure of an esthete, a cultural billionaire of antiquity. He has repeatedly received support from institutions. For example, the Palace of Versailles, the Museum of Decorative Arts or the Louvre Museum could count on the patronage of a businessman to repair or buy new works. The one who, laughing, said that he was probably “the best man in the world”, spent his whole life dealing with beautiful things. In Paris, he lives in a beautiful mansion 7e district, near Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a dream home with a garden with perfect grass, decorated with three large piles of boxwood. In his living room we meet Engra’s canvas and a large bucolic scene with Coro’s signature. There is also an apartment in New York, not far from Central Park, the castle in Perigord, and then the pearl: an extraordinary property on the Cap d’Antibes, called “Villa in the Wind”, endowed with a beautiful pool with sea water.

In the summer, the David-Weil couple settles there, the rich and powerful show off at home. His daughter Cecil told about these exceptional summers in the book Applicants, published in 2010 by Grasset. In this world, everything is old-fashioned, not ostentatious luxury. She talks about the habits and customs of this wealthy elite, who meet under the song of cicadas at breakfast, about the shadow army of servants and butlers who organize daily events, tablecloths in orange linen, covered with white orchids, decorated with Caesar plates. with golden grooves depicting his fingerprints, the art of communication, the mantra of which reads: “We must speak lightly of serious things, and serious things lightly. »

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