Peter A. Levy, a founder of alternative investment funds who carried one of Wall Street’s most famous surnames as the son of Gustave Levy, a former senior partner of Goldman, Sachs & Co., has died. He was 77.
He died on Oct. 18 in Palm Beach, Florida, according to his daughter, Dany Levy. The cause was cancer.
Following his career at Goldman Sachs, starting as a floor broker at the New York Stock Exchange and rising to partner, Levy joined colleagues Robert Friedman, former Goldman Sachs chief financial officer, and Ronald Tauber, former chief operating officer of the investment bank’s J. Aron & Co. division, in creating investment funds.
In 1994 they opened Sage Capital Management LLC, a White Plains, New York-based fund of hedge funds that began with $20 million and had grown to $300 million by the time it was acquired in 2002 by Netherlands-based Robeco Group NV. The firm, now called Robeco-Sage Capital Management LLC, is located in New York.
In 2008 they founded Harmony Capital Management LP, a New York-based fund of private-equity funds. Levy was active in managing the firm until he fell ill in recent weeks, Tauber said.
“Peter seemed to know everyone in the investment business and earned his reputation not only as a great investor but as someone whom others sought out for advice and counsel,” his colleagues Friedman, Tauber, Anne Farrell and Joanne Giordano wrote in a death notice in the New York Times.
Tauber described Levy as an incisive evaluator of financial risk and opportunity. He said his friend was “very proud” to be the son of a Wall Street legend as well as determined to “be his own person.” His father, known as Gus, led Goldman Sachs (GS:US) as senior partner from 1969 to 1976 as it pioneered block trading of stocks.
One investment opportunity that came Peter Levy’s way, in 2000, was his daughter’s idea for an e-mail newsletter offering shopping, restaurant and event tips for New Yorkers. He barely knew how to use a computer at the time and would have preferred to “invest in oil or steel or something I understand,” he told the Wall Street Journal for a 2012 article.
He did end up investing, and his daughter’s site -- called DailyCandy -- was a success, expanding to cities around the U.S. When Pilot Group Ventures bought the company in 2003 for $3 million, Levy collected four times his initial investment, according to the Journal. In 2008, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. bought DailyCandy from Pilot for $125 million, the Journal reported.
Dany Levy, in a tribute written with her sister, Dominique, called their father “a deeply talented investor and serial entrepreneur” who struck out on his own “rather than ride on the coattails of his father.”
He loved to cook, taught himself to windsurf and took helicopters to ski fresh deep powder.
He also “carried documents in a tattered accordion folder and his BlackBerry in a crusty Ziploc bag,” Levy’s daughters said. He insisted on flying coach on long-haul trips (even at age 77) because he worried he might eat too much in business class.”
“Herewith lies the wonderful dichotomy of Peter Levy: although he spent his life making money, he never cared much in using it on himself,” they said.
Peter Alexander Levy was born on May 18, 1936, in New York City to Gus Levy and the former Janet Wolf -- whose father, Alec, was a limited partner at Goldman Sachs from 1935 to 1945, according to William D. Cohan’s “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World” (2011).
Peter Levy and his younger sister, Betty, recalled a childhood in which their father’s work came first, according to Cohan.
“My mother never believed in any kind of celebration of anything,” Levy was quoted as saying. “No Christmas, no Hanukkah, nothing. No Passover, nothing. No God. No bar mitzvahs, no nothing.”
Cohan quoted Betty Levy recalling of her father, Gus, “I can’t say I ever really got to know him. We didn’t spend that much time together. He tried to be a good father, but he didn’t know how.”
Peter Levy graduated from the St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts, in 1955 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia in 1959.
He went to work for Goldman Sachs on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and was a partner when his father became senior partner in 1969.
“He was a lovely man and did an excellent job on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange,” Robert Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs trading head who developed the firm’s block-trading business along with Gus Levy, said yesterday in an interview.
Upon Gus Levy’s death from a stroke in 1976, John Whitehead and John Weinberg became co-senior partners atop Goldman Sachs. Levy was promoted once more, to senior director, in December 1980.
The firm became Goldman Sachs Group Inc. when it went public in 1999.
Levy had two daughters, Dany and Dominique Levy -- a former Goldman Sachs equity trader now working in London at Boston-based Sonian Capital LP -- with his first wife, Catherine Goldschmidt. That marriage ended in divorce.
They survive him, as do his second wife, Nadine; their three children, Vanessa, Kate and Gus; his wife’s stepchildren, Sharon and Oren; his sister, Betty Hess; and two grandchildren.
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