The Observer‘s Max Abelson reported that the Blankfeins closed on a 16th-floor duplex condo in the building back in January when the extent of the subprime mortgage crisis’ impact on Wall Street was finally becoming clear. The couple signed the contract for the yet-to-be built apartment two days before Mr. Blankfein was promoted to CEO at Goldman in May 2006, at the height of the Manhattan real estate market.
Since then, the national market has tanked and New York’s is stagnant. But while other Wall Street banking firms are writing down their balance sheets as quickly as they once did year-end bonus checks, Goldman Sachs, with Mr. Blankfein at the helm, has remained largely unscathed.
Mr. Blankfein took home $68.5 million in total compensation for last year— a record for an investment bank chief executive–as his counterparts at the rest of the banks with heavy mortgage-related losses resigned in ignominy, often without so golden a parachute. Goldman Sachs posted $3.2 billion in profit in its fourth quarter alone, far surpassing its peers, prompting the board to award $26.8 million in cash and $41 million in stock and options to Mr. Blankfein last year, a 27.2 percent jump from the record bonus of $53.4 million he received in 2006.
Not that we feel particular sympathy with the banks that betted big on the subprime mortgage market, but one would think the economic downturn might prompt token gestures of austerity within the financial industries. The staff apartment Laura Blankfein has purchased costs over $100,000 more than her husband’s base salary at Goldman.