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Ivan Frederick Boesky (born March 6, 1937, in Detroitmarker) is an American businessman who is notable for his prominent role in a Wall Streetmarker insider trading scandal that occurred in the United Statesmarker in the mid-1980s.

Boesky is of Jewish descent. He attended the Cranbrook Kingswood Schoolmarker in Bloomfield Hillsmarker before graduating from Detroit's Mumford High School. He then attended courses at Wayne State Universitymarker, Eastern Michigan Universitymarker and the University of Michiganmarker. he was admitted to the Detroit College of Law, which allowed him to enroll despite having no undergraduate college degree. He graduated from the Detroit College of Law in 1965.. In the 1980s, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and at New York Universitymarker's Graduate School of Business.

By 1986, Boesky had become an arbitrageur who had amassed a fortune of more than US$200 million by betting on corporate takeovers. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated him for making investments based on tips received from corporate insiders. These stock acquisitions were sometimes brazen, with massive purchases occurring only a few days before a corporation announced a takeover. Boesky was on the cover of TIME December 1, 1986.

Although insider trading of this kind was illegal, laws prohibiting it were rarely enforced until Boesky was prosecuted. Boesky cooperated with the SEC and informed, including the case against financier Michael Milken. As a result of a plea bargain Boesky received a prison sentence of 3.5 years and was fined US$100 million. Although he was released after two years, he was barred from working in the securities business for the remainder of his life. He served his prison sentence at Lompoc Federal Prison Camp near Vandenberg Air Force Basemarker in California.

Boesky never recovered his reputation after doing a stint in jail, and paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and compensation for his Guinness share-trading fraud role and a host of separate insider dealing scams. In later years he embraced his Judaism strongly and even took classes related to Judaism at the Jewish Theological Seminarymarker where he was previously a major donor; however, in 1987, following the fallout from his financial scandal, The New York Times reported that "after Ivan F. Boesky had been fined $100 million in the insider-trading scandal, the Jewish Theological Seminarymarker, acting at his request, took his name off its $20 million library."

His involvement in criminal activities is recounted in the book Den of Thieves by Pulitzer Prize-winning author James B. Stewart.

Cultural references

  • The character of Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street is based at least in part on Boesky, especially regarding a famous speech he delivered on the positive aspects of greed at the University of California, Berkeleymarker in 1986, where he said in part "I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".
  • The character Charlotte, a high-stakes CEO, on Rugrats has two fish in her office named "Boesky" and "Vesco".
  • In the 2001 film Ocean's Eleven, Brad Pitt's character, Rusty Ryan, mentions a type of confidence scam termed "a Boesky" that involves a wealthy bankroller with insider information.


  1. "Boesky Studying Hebrew and Talmud at Seminary" - The New York Times: ARI L. GOLDMAN - July 23, 1987
  2. Stewart, James B., Den of Thieves, Simon & Schuster, 1991. Cf. p.35
  3. Ulmer, Byran K., "Ivan Boesky" in Encyclopedia of White-collar & Corporate Crime, (Lawrence Salinger, editor), SAGE, 2004. Cf. p.96-97
  4. Boesky, Ivan F., Merger Mania, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1985.
  5. Ivan Boesky at the TIME archive
  6. Article on Boesky at New York
  7. Ivan Boesky Biography at
  8. Battling Boeskys at TIME. Note: this is not a good reference, it does not mention the Berkeley speech.

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