June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Michael Stein, co-founder of Executive Monetary Management LLC, a financial advisory firm whose clients included Michael Eisner, when he was chief executive officer of Walt Disney Co., and singer Michael Bolton, has died. He was 74.
He died on May 30 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, according to his wife, Eileen Stein. She said he had recently become ill.
EMM, based in Manhattan, describes itself as a full-service financial adviser, offering investment, tax and estate planning “to wealthy families, individuals and institutions” in industries including entertainment, finance and law. It has more than $2.5 billion in assets under management, said Thomas O’Brien, chief financial officer.
Stein, William Aaron and John Gold, all certified public accountants, started EMM in 1968.
“Nobody thought like Michael,” Aaron, who was co-chief executive with Stein, said in a statement on the company’s website. “He could immediately process information and come up with issues and solutions from a perspective nobody else in the room was coming from, all for the benefit of his clients.”
In 2001, when it had about $1.8 billion under management, the firm was acquired by Neuberger Berman LLC., a New York-based money manager. Stein and Aaron became managing directors of Neuberger Berman and co-presidents of its EMM division.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bought Neuberger Berman in 2003 for $2.63 billion. After Lehman went bankrupt in 2008, an employee-led buyout made Neuberger Berman an independent entity, and EMM “returned to its roots as a management-owned, highly focused boutique,” according to its website.
O’Brien declined to discuss the firm’s clientele, citing company practice. Two big-name clients were revealed in litigation over the years.
In a 2002 lawsuit, Eisner and his wife, Jane, said EMM had miscalculated their California taxes for 1996 through 1999, failing to realize that California law differed from federal law in the treatment of stock donations to private foundations. Six months after filing, the Eisners dropped the lawsuit.
In 2008 Bolton sued EMM, claiming that it owed him more than $5 million, according to the New York Post, which said the firm was seeking $500,000 in unpaid fees from Bolton dating back to 2005. O’Brien said the Bolton case was resolved, and that neither Eisner nor Bolton is a current client.
Record producer Clive Davis’s charitable foundation has been another client of the firm, according to its 2012 IRS filing.
Eileen Stein said her husband treated all clients and colleagues, famous or not, with equal respect.
“He had high moral fiber,” she said yesterday in an interview. “He had loyalty, and he dropped everything for the clients. He’d be there and take care of them. They knew they could trust him.”
Michael Ronald Stein was born on July 5, 1939, and raised in Patchogue on New York’s Long Island. His father, Joseph Stein, ran auctions of feathers used to make pillows, sleeping bags and coats, Eileen Stein said.
Stein received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University in 1961 and an MBA from New York University. He began his career as an accountant at S.D. Leidesdorf & Co. in New York.
It was there that he met Aaron and Gold, and the trio conceived the idea of opening their own company to act as a full-service “financial advocate” for executives, O’Brien said.
He said Gold retired in the 1980s or 1990s and died in recent years.
Stein was a director of the Harriet and Esteban Vicente Foundation in New York, which supports the legacy of Esteban Vicente, the Spanish-American abstract expressionist painter.
In addition to his wife, Stein’s survivors include a son, Andrew; a daughter, Jennifer; and three grandchildren.
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