Kenneth Langone on Standing Up to Eliot Spitzer

The investment banker and former NYSE director on battling Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo over Richard Grasso’s $139.5 million pay package
Illustration by Jimmy Turrell

Eliot Spitzer held a huge press conference in May 2004. Not only was he suing [former NYSE Chairman Richard] Grasso, the attorney general was going after me for $18 million, claiming I’d misled everybody as chairman of the comp committee. On the Friday before, Spitzer called my lawyer to get a settlement. I wouldn’t do it. I thought Grasso was worth what we paid him. In 1982 the NYSE board had put in a pension system to encourage people to stay there as a career. Dick Grasso had started out as an $82.50-a-week clerk. He stayed 37 years. He’d been chairman for eight of them, and his record was flawless.

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