John Gutfreund ‘King of Wall Street' dies aged 86

Gutfreund was renowned for selling the first mortgage-backed bonds at Salomon Brothers.

Proclaimed “King of Wall Street” John Gutfreund has died of pneumonia at the age of 86.

Gutfreund was renowned for his time at investment banking firm Salomon Brothers, before he was removed his post following a trading scandal in 1991.

He grew up in a Jewish family in New York, and joined Salomon Brothers as a clerk in the statistical department before becoming a bond trader for the firm.

Gutfreund worked his way up to become partner, and eventually chief executive officer at Salomon Brothers.

While at the firm, Gutfreund grew its capital from $209 million to $3.4 billion, which led to headlines in 1985 hailing him the “King of Wall Street”.

He was renowned for selling the first mortgage-backed bonds at Salomon Brothers, and turned the firm from a private partnership company, into a publicly traded firm.

However, his failure to act when a rogue trader at Salomon Brothers traded bonds in excess of what the Treasury allowed, ultimately led to Gutfreund’s resignation.

Michael Lewis, a former trader at Salomon Brothers, wrote a book called “Liar’s poker” which heavily featured Gutfreund’s antics. 

Gutfreund later told Lewis his “book destroyed my career, and it made yours.”

In his personal time Gutfreund enjoyed the music of Tony Bennett and painting. The UJA-Federation of New York also honoured him for his charitable contributions and activities.