Magdaia Latham

Written by Magdaia Latham

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


When it comes to influential figures in the world of finance and investment banking, Bruce Wasserstein is a name that stands tall. With a career that spanned decades and a reputation for being a brilliant dealmaker, Wasserstein left an indelible mark on the industry before his untimely passing in 2009.

In this article, we will delve into the intriguing life of Bruce Wasserstein and uncover 12 captivating facts about the man behind the legend. From his early beginnings to his rise to the top of Wall Street, we will explore the key milestones and accomplishments that made Wasserstein a force to be reckoned with. So, prepare to be fascinated by the life and legacy of this iconic figure as we shed light on the lesser-known aspects of Bruce Wasserstein’s remarkable journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bruce Wasserstein was a successful investment banker known for his expertise in mergers and acquisitions, turning around struggling firms, and his passion for education, writing, and philanthropy.
  • His legacy in the financial industry, philanthropy, and the arts continues to inspire future generations, and his impact will be felt for years to come.
Table of Contents

Successful Investment Banker

Bruce Wasserstein was a highly accomplished investment banker, known for his expertise in mergers and acquisitions. He co-founded the prominent financial services firm Wasserstein Perella & Co., which played a significant role in several high-profile deals.

Notable Mergers and Acquisitions

Wasserstein was involved in numerous landmark mergers and acquisitions throughout his career. His notable deals include the acquisition of Nabisco by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the merger of Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter, and the sale of Time Warner to AOL.

Reviving Investment Banking Firms

Wasserstein had a knack for reviving struggling investment banking firms. He successfully turned around companies like Lazard Frères & Co. and Drexel Burnham Lambert, infusing them with new energy and transforming them into major players in the industry.

Pursuit of Education

Despite his success in the financial world, Wasserstein recognized the value of education. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and later attended Harvard Law School, where he obtained his Juris Doctor.

Accomplished Author

Besides his achievements in investment banking, Wasserstein was also an accomplished author. He wrote a highly regarded book titled “Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player”, which provided insights into the competitive world of professional poker.

Philanthropic Contributions

Wasserstein was known for his philanthropic endeavors. He generously donated to various causes, including educational institutions, medical research, and the arts. His contributions continue to have a positive impact on society.

Co-owner of New York Magazine

Wasserstein had a keen interest in the media industry and was co-owner of New York Magazine. Under his ownership, the publication experienced significant growth and received critical acclaim for its insightful journalism.

Passion for the Arts

He had a deep passion for the arts and served on the boards of numerous prestigious cultural institutions. Wasserstein’s support for the arts helped foster creativity and enrich the cultural landscape.

Recognitions and Awards

Throughout his career, Wasserstein received numerous recognitions and awards for his contributions to the business world. He was honored with the Financial Times’ Lifetime Achievement Award in Investment Banking and was listed in Forbes’ list of the 400 Richest Americans.

Family Background

Wasserstein came from a family with a strong background in academia and intellectual pursuits. His father, Morris Wasserstein, was a lawyer and his brother, Wendy Wasserstein, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Legacy in the Financial Industry

Bruce Wasserstein left a lasting legacy in the financial industry, not only through his successful deals but also through his innovative strategies and approach to investment banking. His insights continue to inspire and guide future generations of professionals.

Remembering Bruce Wasserstein

The contributions of Bruce Wasserstein to the world of finance, philanthropy, and the arts are indisputable. His impact will be felt for years to come, and his captivating persona will be remembered as an influential figure in various fields.


In conclusion, Bruce Wasserstein was a remarkable individual who made a significant impact in the world of finance, media, and philanthropy. His expertise and business acumen allowed him to lead successful deals and transform companies. Wasserstein’s dedication to his work and his ability to adapt to changing trends were instrumental in his rise to prominence. Additionally, his philanthropic efforts showcased his commitment to giving back to society and uplifting those in need. Bruce Wasserstein’s legacy continues to inspire and his impact can still be felt in various industries today.


1. What were Bruce Wasserstein’s main achievements in the finance industry?

Bruce Wasserstein achieved several notable accomplishments in the finance industry. Some of his major achievements include leading successful mergers and acquisitions, such as the acquisition of Wasserstein Perella & Co. by Dresdner Bank, and the formation of Lazard Ltd. He also played a crucial role in securing a wide range of deals as an investment banker, ultimately solidifying his reputation as one of the industry’s top financial advisors.

2. How did Bruce Wasserstein contribute to the media industry?

Bruce Wasserstein made significant contributions to the media industry through his leadership as Chairman and CEO of media conglomerate, The Waterstone Group. Under his guidance, The Waterstone Group acquired New York Magazine, making strategic moves to revitalize the publication. Wasserstein’s vision and expertise helped shape the company’s direction, propelling it to success in the ever-changing media landscape.

3. What philanthropic endeavors was Bruce Wasserstein involved in?

Bruce Wasserstein was actively involved in various philanthropic endeavors throughout his life. He supported numerous causes, including educational institutions and healthcare organizations. Wasserstein was a generous donor to Harvard University, where he established the Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows Program. He also served on the board of trustees for several renowned organizations, furthering his commitment to making a positive impact on society.

4. How is Bruce Wasserstein remembered today?

Bruce Wasserstein is remembered as a highly influential figure in the world of finance and media. His astute business sense and ability to navigate complex deals set him apart from his peers, earning him immense respect and admiration. Moreover, his philanthropic efforts continue to have a lasting impact, leaving a legacy of generosity and compassion. Bruce Wasserstein’s contributions and accomplishments remain an inspiration to aspiring professionals in various industries.

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