James “Jimmy” Cayne, the cocky Wall Street bridge master who led the Bear Stearns investment bank during its rise and fall that served as a touchstone for the 2008 financial crisis, has died at the age of 87.
Cayne died Tuesday after suffering a stroke, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Cayne, one of the most colorful figures in the financial world and once one of the richest people in the United States, rose from broker to president and then CEO of Bear Stearns, which he shaped to become a major player in the world of finance and deal-making. Meanwhile, he was a world-class bridge player and sponsor whose teams have won several North American championships.
Ultimately, his legacy was tied to both endeavors.
He presided over Bear as President and later CEO for more than 20 years, stepping down from an institution that had been in business since the turn of the 20th century. The investment bank’s demise came after it jeopardized risky mortgages known as subprime loans that would destroy the balance sheets of some of the biggest names in the financial industry.
Bear Stearns merged with JPMorgan Chase in March 2008 on a bargain deal for $ 2 a share, a price that would eventually climb to $ 10 but was still a steep drop for one of the most revered names on the street.
The collapse was the first major component of a domino effect for Wall Street. The failure of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 was the biggest event of the crisis, but several other firms closed or had to be bailed out as part of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Cayne was ousted from his position as CEO in January 2008 after the company posted its first quarterly loss.
Cayne was blamed during the crisis; He reportedly played bridge while the deal with JPMorgan was being negotiated, even though he was still a company official.
After Bear died, Cayne disappeared from view of the financial world. He leaves behind his wife Patricia, two daughters and seven grandchildren.