Still, even after the news broke about Mr. Bloomberg’s reshuffled $5 billion, Mr. Rattner has not been seen skulking around with furrowed brows. His demeanor is unimpeachable. “Steve is irrepressible, Steve is disciplined, Steve doesn’t run around and say he’s depressed, quite the opposite,” the friend who spoke anonymously said. “But it’s pretty clear that what he hoped would be a trajectory into even greater prominence in public affairs has hit a wall.”
“All I can say is, Steve told me everything’s going to work out O.K.,” said another friend, Steven R. Weisman, The Times’ former chief international economics correspondent. “He seems as untroubled as can be about it.”
In August, New York magazine profiled his comedown from Washington, although by October, he was publishing a first-person piece in Fortune, one that ends with a tourist who is snapping photos of Alexander Hamilton’s statue stopping to thank him and his team.
Late last year, he got a contract to write a book called Overhaul, essentially an expansion of that piece. Working on the book is taking longer than he’d assumed it would. Actually, he’s found it unbelievably hard. “He’s just holed up on a book deadline,” said Mark Green, the former New York City public advocate, who has exchanged emails about business and writing with the financier recently. “Unless you’re Stephen King, writing books is a bear. It’s just really hard work. And he hasn’t done it before.”
Only a quarter of the book, or maybe a bit more, has been written. It is due to be released this fall.
Mr. Rattner has shuttled between a midtown office, the horse farm and an apartment he and his wife have in the Fifth Avenue co-op building that McKim, Mead & White designed for Jacqueline Onassis’ grandfather. It was delivered back then with 6-foot-wide refrigerators and nine fresh coats of paint.
Early last decade, back when Mr. Rattner’s wife was the finance chair of the Democratic National Committee, Michael Wolff based a piece around the stratospheric oomph of a book party there. It was illustrated with Mr. Rattner as Superman, bursting fist first through a page of The New York Times, which is where he worked as a journalist in the 1970s. He left for Lehman and Morgan Stanley in the early ’80s, before anyone did that sort of thing; became a deputy CEO at Lazard Frères in the ’90s; and started Quadrangle at the turn of the century.
WHEN THE NEWS BROKE on Feb. 20 that the mayor would be moving billions away from Quadrangle, the Daily News put Mr. Rattner’s pension-fund investigation in its lead. The Post called it “a humiliating blow” to the firm he co-founded. “People were speculating,” said someone who knows the investor from New York City political circles, describing guests at a recent Upper East Side dinner. “Was the mayor distancing himself from Rattner? Was it a put-down?”
“It’s actually the opposite,” a source close to the investor said. “He’s moving towards Steve.”
Here’s how the thinking goes: The mayor had brought his billions to Quadrangle in the first place only because of his relationship with Mr. Rattner, an old friend and fund-raiser. (The private-equity firm does no other asset management work.) And not only has Mr. Rattner been gone from the firm for a full year now, but there doesn’t seem to be any love lost between the man and the firm he left during a very fraught era.