Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Game of Life

Former hedge-fund manager Michael Steinhardt considers his legacy



Steinhardt’s gardens include not only one of the largest collections of maple trees in the world but also exotic animals like camels, zebras, and llamas.

Photo by Matthew Furman/The Forbes Collection/getty images

Two decades ago, when Michael H. Steinhardt retired after 30 years of running hedge funds, he told an interviewer he didn’t want his tombstone to just read “Money Manager.” To be sure, that single moniker would not do justice to this Renaissance man. Even a list of his numerous and stellar achievements would not adequately describe the enigma of his essence. He’s a paradox.

Perhaps the pomegranate (being more complex than the apple) doesn’t fall far from the tree. Steinhardt, raised in Brooklyn, is the son of first-generation, American-Jewish parents who were divorced—a rarity at the time. His father was a renowned gambler and did hard time for being Meyer Lansky’s jewel fence. Yet, “he was a brilliant and moral guy,” Steinhardt recalls, “and he introduced me to investing by giving me some stock for my bar mitzvah.”

Steinhardt became a billionaire as a result of a remarkable track record of year-after-year profits in the securities markets. He is widely regarded as a founder of active money management and the modern hedge fund and credited with having been at the forefront  of large-block trading. His market-making strategy of profiting from huge bets no one else was willing to make or capable of making provided liquidity for a hungry market, but, truth be told, his motivation for such risk was purely selfish. Much more macro in his thinking than micro, he has probably shorted more securities than any other investor. And while a former Goldman Sachs senior partner described Steinhardt as being more a moralist than a profiteer, a man whose word is his bond, Steinhardt paid tens of millions in fines levied by the SEC for financial engineering outside the limits of the law. 

He reveals: “My career in the financial markets was more about proving I was the smartest guy in the business than about accumulating wealth.” He still runs his own money, is the chairman of the multi-billion-dollar Wisdom Tree family of ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and admits to being addicted to the thrill of trading. So perhaps he is more an inveterate gambler, like his dad, than financial prophet.

Steinhardt identifies first and foremost as a Jew but professes, “I’m an atheist” in the same breath. He is one of the leading Jewish philanthropists of all time, having donated hundreds of millions to numerous Jewish charities. He founded Birthright Israel (sending hundreds of thousands of Jewish kids to Israel for an experience intended to form a lasting bond) and runs the Steinhardt Foundation (focused on supporting Jewish charter schools, fostering Sabbath dinners and other American-Jewish culture, and publishing news and opinion from the American-Jewish community). He’s been working for years on a book about how to perpetuate Judaism in the diaspora, but the basic tenets of being Jewish that he’s developed are more an iteration of behaving morally than a guide to religiosity, and his Jewish identity is more about Zionism and Jewish culture than a reflection of the Torah.

He is a legendary art and antiquities collector but admits, “I get little satisfaction from any of my material accumulations.” In 2013, he sold off most of what was one of the world’s finest collections of Judaica. Indeed, he seems to get more pleasure from donating multi-million-dollar works of art (including a Rembrandt) to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, than from anything hanging in any of his own homes.

Which brings us to his garden. At his weekend home in Mount Kisco, the married father of three manages 58 acres chockful of specimen flora and fauna gathered from around the world (and occupied by a zoo-full of exotic wild animals). Steinhardt says his garden “is the only possession that gives me pure joy” and remarks, “Is there anything more beautiful than a field of red poppies?” It seems his garden is an oasis for a complicated man. 

At 76, Steinhardt has surely lived a full life, one full of integrity and honor. Perhaps the best epitaph for such a man is the simple Yiddish word: mensch.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

             

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Love at Second Sight

Nikki and John McMann’s sweet harmony

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

September 2017

The Somers Women's Club, a not-for-profit community service organization, will hold its major fundraiser on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Reis Park on Route 139 in Somers. There will be a...

Cost: free

Where:
Reis Park
182 Primrose St
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Somers Womens Club
Telephone: 914-302-7231
Contact Name: Beth Ryzyk
Website »

More information

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Join Music from Copland House for their opening concert of the 2017-18 season! Passages explores the sounds of migration, featuring the World Premiere of Fragrances by the Sea by...

Cost: $25, $20 (Friends), $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mt. Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for a peaceful morning of relaxation and yoga for three Sundays in late September/early October. Taking their inspiration from Mark di Suvero’s kinetic Yoga (1991) on the...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sheffield Island with its historic 148-year-old lighthouse, beaches and wildlife refuge offers abundant summer fun for visitors.  From May through September, visitors can board the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water St.
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Thursday, Sept. 28. The New York Unit of the Herb Society of America presents the 69th Annual Herb Fair, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at John Jay Homestead, 400 Route 22, Katonah. Admission is free;...

Cost: Free admission; fee for lunch

Where:
John Jay Homestead State Historic Site
400 Route 22
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: N.Y. Unit of Herb Society of America
Telephone: (914) 232-5651
Contact Name: Toby Baker
Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

WHAT: Hospice of Westchester (HOW) will host its annual “In Celebration” Gala Cocktail Reception on Thursday, September 28. The special guest speaker for the evening will be Emmy...

Cost: $300

Where:
Westchester Country Club
99 Biltmore Avenue
Rye, NY, NY  10580
View map »


Telephone: 914-682-1484
Contact Name: Holly Benedict
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for the Norwalk Seaport Association's famous Thursday...

Cost: $65 or $79 per person

Where:
Sheffield Island & Lighthouse
4 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The King of Navarre and his lords have sworn off the pleasures of life to pursue their studies, but can their oaths hold up when a princess and her ladies come to town? Men and women test their own...

Cost: $15.75-$57.75

Where:
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
1601 Rt. 9D
Garrison, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Our founder, Cole Palen, grew up next to a great 1930’s Hudson Valley airport dreaming that he would own and fly the machines he saw overhead and spent the rest of his life bringing the...

Cost: $8.00 - $10.00

Where:
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
9 Norton Rd
Red Hook, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Apple Picking Has Begun! Picking Hours: Our orchard is open daily from 9am - 4:30pm. Festival Weekends 10am - 5pm: 9/9-10 9/16-17 9/21-24 9/30-10/1 Pizza Party at...

Where:
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road
North Salem, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Cruise through history and the majestic beauty of the Hudson River We specialize in Weddings and Private Charters Elegance for all affairs 2 Hour narrated sightseeing cruises Customized cruises...

Cost: Adults $22 Seniors Ages 65 and up $20 Children Ages 4 to 11 $18

Where:
Hudson River Adventures, Inc
90 Front St
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
SoundWaters
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The Faire is a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and dance – set within the majestic groves of Tuxedo Park, New...

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for military and age 62+, $12 for age 5-12, free for age 4-

Where:
600 Rt. 17A
Tuxedo Park, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturdays from 9am to 1pm! For a real feel of the country drive up Rt. 22 to the John Jay Homestead where you go to market with grass under your feet, surrounded by historic buildings and...

Cost: Food prices

Where:
John Jay Homestead
400 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags