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The Inside Story of Estée Lauder’s $89 Billion Success

Leonard Lauder, the company’s chairman emeritus, has written as close to a tell-all as we’re going to get.

Leonard Lauder in the 1970s.

Leonard Lauder in the 1970s.

Source: The Estée Lauder Companies Archives

In the midst of taking Estée Lauder public in 1995, Leonard Lauder, the company’s then-chairman and chief executive officer, fielded a question from an investment banker during the roadshow. “If your products are so good,” the banker asked Lauder, then in his 60s, “why do you have so many lines on your face?”

Fortunately, Lauder writes in his new book The Company I Keep: My Life In Beauty (Harper Collins, Nov. 17; $32.50), “my wrinkles didn’t deter investors.” His comeback came in the stock’s debut. It opened at $26 a share and climbed to $34.50 in its first day of trading.