The Financial Crisis: Five Years Later

Painter Geoffrey Raymond on His Annotated Wall Street Portraits


Raymond, on Wall Street, asks passersby to annotate his work

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Raymond, on Wall Street, asks passersby to annotate his work

Sept. 15, 2008: Raymond sets up his Richard Fuld portrait outside Lehman headquarters

How’d you come to paint financial figures?
A friend said, “You should start painting people that have enough money to buy the paintings.” The first one I did was [former New York Stock Exchange (NYX) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer] Richard Grasso, and I put it on EBay (EBAY) for $3,000. The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece about it, so did the New York Times, and it sold for $3,025.

Who buys your paintings?
Wall Street people. The woman who bought Jimmy Cayne, her husband was a senior Bear Stearns guy and she just wandered up and said, “What’ll you take for it right now?” The price was either $10,000 or $12,000. The guy who bought the Fuld painting had been in Lehman Brothers risk management; he hated Richard Fuld.

Raymond's portrait of Richard Grasso sold on eBay for $3,025.  Alan Greenspan “The Fallen Prince” sold for $102,000Courtesy Geoffrey RaymondRaymond's portrait of Richard Grasso sold on eBay for $3,025. Alan Greenspan “The Fallen Prince” sold for $102,000

Why do people want them?
People have said they consider them historical documents. I think some anger is involved. The most I’ve ever sold one for was $102,000. That was Alan Greenspan, The Fallen Prince. It went to a guy in Las Vegas, a day trader or something.

Ever get any bad reactions?
Some guy at Lehman Brothers threatened to beat me up. He was coming back from lunch, hammered. He’d probably had eight beers, which is exactly what I would do. And then I’d beat up the artist who’s smugly sitting there.

How many paintings and prints have you sold in the past five years?
Twenty paintings. I’ve sold maybe 75 prints of Richard Fuld, which is my most iconic image. My best years were 2010 and 2011. Things are slow this year.

Is that a sign that things are better?
“Better” is the wrong word. I think it’s a sign of, if you hit somebody over the head long enough, they finally just stop caring.

Cwinter
Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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