As the years pass, we're starting to get a better and better look at just how utterly insane some Wall Streeters' lives were during the financial industry's last boom time—specifically the late '90s, and more broadly, the decade before the financial crash of 2008. Everyone was getting rich, and everyone felt they always were going to be rich, and it all led to some tremendously self-destructive behavior from the trading floor's Big Swinging Dicks: Think a lot of cocaine. $1,000-a-night escorts. Seven nights out, every week. This kind of stuff still goes on, of course, but when Wall Street declines, so do the BSDs. And we're now far enough away from that period of time for some of its players to, finally, tell their stories.
One former trader, Turney Duff, has written a book about his time working at The Galleon Group, a hedge fund run by the disgraced Raj Rajaratnam, who's now in jail for insider trading. The New York Post ran an excerpt today from the book, called The Buy Side. It was probably the most seedy and fascinating thing I've read this week. A couple of highlights:
Summer 2002: I can smell the tequila I drank last night. It oozes from my pores. I’m still wearing my blue Prada suit from yesterday. It looks like I’ve just pulled it out of a gym bag. I have 10 clean ones just like it hanging in my closet, but I woke up late again. I wonder what my personal shoppers at Barney’s would think if they saw me right now. I reek of cigarettes, too. It feels like my teeth are wearing little wool sweaters.
The trading desk is surrounded by glass. I work in a fish bowl. I’m in the middle of a newly renovated office on Park Avenue . . . As the opening bell rings, every muscle in my body clenches. I sit upright and try to focus on the eight computer screens in front of me. There are 25 orders on my desk, each from five to 10 million dollars and involving some sort of investment decision. My head throbs.
Forty-five minutes later: There’s an ounce of cocaine piled in the microwave. An additional few thousand dollars’ worth of blow sits on a single plate in the kitchen. The place is littered with Grey Goose bottles, ice, cups, and straws for snorting. We call this East Side apartment the White House for obvious reasons, but it’s more like a Wall Street crack house. Randy and James [two sell side traders] live here. Everything is provided and paid for, compliments of the sell side ... They like to please their clients. Tonight they were kind enough to order in: Chinese and Mexican escorts. I watch as two American Express black cards fly through the air across the kitchen. They land right on top of the blow. James uses the cards to chop the cocaine as 12 guys roll up their shirtsleeves. One of the hookers, Adelina, a large-breasted firecracker, drags a finger across my chest. Two traders who work for a hedge fund in Connecticut — and raced here by car service — grab the Asian twins and head to the bedroom. Dr. Fish, a 300-pound sales trader who grew up in the Florida Keys, lays claim to Adelina and escorts her to the other back bedroom . . .
Duff goes on to detail a typical night out at the W Hotel, a chat with college girls on the prowl for sugar daddies, and, of course, a 4 a.m. phone call to a Manhattan escort. When you have more money than God, this is how you do it.
Oh, and this is how the excerpt ends: "On the street, I look at my phone, its 5:42 a.m. I need to go home and change my suit." I'd be dead after a week with this lifestyle. Read the whole thing here.
[Hilarious picture of cocaine abuser via Shutterstock]