The Wall Street Ex-Wives Club

“I feel,” Elyse Slaine said over a nine-dollar cup of coffee at the Pierre Hotel last Friday, “like someone has to tell the truth.” The 46-year-old was wearing studded Louboutin boots, a ruby ring on her right hand and a Harry Winston diamond watch on the other. But she did not look happy.

It had been a hard week. On Saturday, Jan. 16, The Wall Street Journal ran a long, lurid story naming her ex-husband, the trader David Slaine, as a key government mole in its far-reaching insider trading investigation of the Galleon hedge fund. He’d agreed to wear a wire after the F.B.I. confronted him at his home in 2007 with evidence of his own insider trading, the paper said.

Of all the wonderful character types on Wall Street, the ex-wife is the most interesting—more dignified than the bachelor, more sophisticated than the trophy girlfriend, less tedious than the family man, less fraught than the widow. And for the uptown divorcées trudging through Wall Street’s strange new landscape, Ms. Slaine has plowed an extraordinary path.

The day after the Journal story appeared, she’d taken to the comments section of a blog called Sense on Cents to exclaim that her ex-husband had never worn a wire: “The only fact you and the WSJ got right is that Slaine benches 400 pounds.” A few days later, she poured nearly 1,000 words into the comments section on Dealbreaker, the saucy finance blog, then wrote an email to its editor. Over coffee at the Pierre, not touching the silver plate of cookies that came with the coffee, she defended Mr. Slaine by describing their relationship and his career, personality, childhood and, most importantly, the particulars of his history with a former weight-lifting partner named Craig Drimal.

Her defense sets Ms. Slaine apart from the other ex-wives of Wall Street, who since the near-collapse of the global financial system have been known for cinematically grand attacks, not guardianship. Last month, a woman who divorced the secretive hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen two decades ago sued him for $300 million, accusing him of insider trading in racketeering charges that allow her to ask for triple damages. Her first attorney requested that the suit be dropped, but a replacement says that she’s carrying on.

And in the wake of last year’s agreement to release the names of Americans who’d hid money in Swiss bank accounts, no less than Time reported that the huge Manhattan divorce lawyer Raoul Lionel Felder had been hearing from curious ex-wives. Meanwhile, the Post has been handing out droll headlines to stories about financiers like Jason Meyers, who was accused by his estranged wife of sexual deviance. He is a governor of the We Are Family Foundation.

 

BEFORE MS. SLAINE married in 1992, she sold financial technology for Knight Ridder. “Wall Street was a sexy place to be,” she said. One day, at the end of a sales presentation at Morgan Stanley, she asked if there were any questions.

One trader said, “Why don’t you go out with David Slaine?” She wasn’t amused. “I sort of smiled and said, ‘Why don’t you call me when you’re interested in buying Knight Ridder systems?’”

The two of them met again later. “David said, ‘If I buy a system from you, will you go out with me?’ I told him I don’t mix business with pleasure. I said, ‘Not for 30 days, because you have 30 days to cancel it.’ He crossed out the 30-day cancellation policy and I went out with him.” They were engaged within months.

Mr. Slaine became his firm’s Nasdaq trading chief, a perfect perch for the tech bubble. He was the type, The Journal said, to start a trading floor fistfight over unshared French fries, and crush a keyboard in a rage. (Ms. Slaine, in her second online post, says that was only because his computer had broken down five times.)

In 1998, just as he was leaving for Galleon, the National Association of Securities Dealers announced that it was punishing Morgan Stanley and seven of its traders “for manipulating the price of 10 securities.” Mr. Slaine’s 90-day ban and $100,000 fee was the harshest, according to an announcement then, though apparently the sanction was eventually lowered to just $2,500.

His tough-guy reputation followed him to Galleon. In 2001, The Journal says, he punched firm co-founder Gary Rosenbach, who was lying supine in a steam room, because he’d been “pressuring Mr. Slaine to improve his performance.” Ms. Slaine gives a different version of the fight: She says it started when her ex-husband confronted Mr. Rosenbach about trading on inside information, and that he merely slapped him, after a finger was stuck in his face.

Mr. Rosenbach, who reportedly left Galleon last year because of family health reasons, has not been charged in the insider trading case, but he has followed Ms. Slaine’s posts. “It’s a bewilderment to me why she harbors animosity,” he said in a rare interview Monday evening. “If her husband is a witness that’s cooperating, I’m sorry to hear that or whatever, but I don’t know what to say.”

The Wall Street Ex-Wives Club