One big Bear Stearns (BSC) shareholder is no longer hallucinating about a higher JP Morgan (JPM) bid for the firm: Chairman Jimmy Cayne, a Wall Street and Bear Stearns legend and one of the few men most responsible for Bear's collapse (the others being CEO Alan Schwartz and the firm's financial and risk-management teams), has taken his loss.
The NYT's Landon Thomas Jr. has the story:
Only a year ago James E. Cayne's stake in Bear Stearns was worth more than $1 billion. But on Thursday, Mr. Cayne, the chairman of Bear, disclosed that he had sold all of his shares in the troubled investment bank this week for just $61 million.
While the sale leaves Mr. Cayne a wealthy man, it nonetheless underscores the deep losses suffered by Bear's shareholders after the company's forced sale to JPMorgan Chase two weeks ago.
And for Mr. Cayne, the liquidation evokes a deep sense of loss. It represents a humiliating capitulation for a brash executive who, with his ever-present cigar, suspender-snapping ways and Friday golf outings in the summer, epitomized the classic, if outdated, picture of the Wall Street chieftain.
Landon also paints a picture of how a 74-year old legend who spent all of his working days since 1969 at Bear is dealing with the fact that, in the space of 72 hours, 90% of it went "poof":
People who have spoken with Mr. Cayne say that he, like everyone at Bear, was stunned by the firm's precipitous collapse and the rock-bottom price of its sale. In the past weeks, together with his wife, Patricia Cayne, who is a student of Jewish religious traditions, Mr. Cayne has spent considerable time searching for comparable events in religious history to see what lessons can be learned from the collapse of his firm, said a person who has spoken to him recently.
Hats off to Jimmy: If I were in his shoes, I'd probably turn to something a good deal stronger than religion. And there's also a silver lining. If Jimmy does manage to find "comparable events in religious history" that shed light on Bear's demise, he will be able to contemplate them from his new $26 million apartment in the Plaza.
More on Bear Stearns: Did Bear CEO Alan Schwartz Lie About the Firm's Condition on CNBC?