Bond Heiress Says Ex-Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne 'Manipulated' Her

  • James Cayne sued Alexandra Lebenthal last month over 2008 loan
  • Lebenthal asks New York state judge to dismiss lawsuit

Bond heiress Alexandra Lebenthal struck back at James “Jimmy” Cayne, claiming that the former Bear Stearns Cos. chairman “manipulated” her in connection with a $1 million loan that is the subject of a contentious court fight.

Lebenthal made the allegation in her response to a lawsuit Cayne filed last month seeking more than $438,000 he says is owed under the 2008 loan, made just weeks before Bear Stearns’s collapse. Cayne alleges that Lebenthal, a longtime friend, approached him early that year and asked to borrow money because she was struggling financially. He says he offered to loan her $1 million, to be paid back with interest, “without hesitation and out of personal affection."

James "Jimmy" Cayne

James "Jimmy" Cayne

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

In her filing Wednesday, Lebenthal denied most of the allegations while asking a New York state judge to throw out the complaint. The 53-year-old also claimed that Cayne failed to comply with the terms of the loan.

"The complaint must be dismissed because plaintiff has intentionally manipulated defendant in various ways in order to cause a circumstance that plaintiff could subsequently allege to be adverse to his interest," Lebenthal said in her filing, without elaborating.

Learn more about the Lebenthal’s attempts to revive their business.

Cayne’s attorney, Ronald Greenberg, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the filing. Lebenthal’s attorney, Joshua Reitzas, declined to elaborate on the filing.

Cayne, 83, led Bear Stearns for 15 years until January 2008, when he stepped down after the New York-based firm posted the first loss in its 85-year history. Once the biggest underwriter of mortgage-backed bonds, the company was forced to seek funding from the Federal Reserve before it was taken over by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

According to the suit, Lebenthal asked Cayne in late 2013 or 2014 if he would consider converting the loan balance into a pre-initial public offering investment in Lebenthal Holdings LLC. He declined the offer.

In late 2014, Lebenthal began regularly delaying quarterly payments, according to the suit. Cayne says he agreed to temporarily suspend her obligations in early 2016 after she contacted him and said she was "experiencing hardship" and unable to make payments.

Then, in late 2016, a lawyer for Lebenthal Holdings contacted Cayne’s attorney and said the company was seeking to sell itself contingent on reducing its outside liabilities and offered to resolve the loan for slightly more than $18,000. After Cayne’s attorney demanded full repayment, Lebenthal’s lawyer indicated she didn’t intend to pay the remaining balance, according to the lawsuit.

The case is Cayne v. Lebenthal, 650776/2017, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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