Fortune today gives us a rare look at Dick Fuld, the now-reclusive ex-CEO of catastrophic failure Lehman Brothers, whose historic blowup in 2008 nearly caused the utter collapse of of the world financial system. So what’s Fuld been up to?
Avoiding getting shot, for starters. The last time Fuld granted an interview, all the way back in November 2008, he greeted a Reuters reporter with, “You don’t have a gun. That’s good.” And at a meeting with Lehman managing director Ken White, Fuld asked him, “You’re not going to shoot me, are you?”
Although Fuld’s worries about assault at the hands of gunmen disguised as journalists and former colleagues may be a little excessive, there are still plenty of people gunning for him in a figurative sense. The SEC, the Department of Justice and others are hot on his trail, and he’s been working what sounds like 12-hour days at his firm, Matrix Advisors, to help him fight a legal onslaught: “Many in Fuld’s circle believe that he would not be working so hard if he did not need the money to pay for his luxurious lifestyle and ongoing legal bills related to Lehman’s collapse.”
Fuld is also learning to tone down his profile and live on a more modest budget—which is to say he’s taking commercial flights (instead of a private jet) to and from estates in Sun Valley and Jupiter Island. But further details on Fuld are scattered and opaque, thanks to strict orders from his attorney not to talk. He’s got millions, but how many is unclear, and it’s unlikely that we’ll find out for sure until litigation against him ramps up in public. Dead men tell no tales, and in that sense, Fuld is acting like one of those imaginary assassins has already gotten to him.