Wall Street CEO and mansion collector, Richard Jenrette dies at 89

The former investment banker's passion was buying and restoring 19th century mansions

From left: Edgewater and Richard Jenrette. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Harvard University)
From left: Edgewater and Richard Jenrette. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Harvard University)

The late investment banker and two-time CEO was known for his eccentricities, leadership and love of 19th century mansions.

Richard Jenrette started his career as a sports journalist and life insurance agent before going to Harvard Business School to snag a job on Wall Street, according the Wall Street Journal. His clients included the actress Greta Garbo before, with two Harvard classmates, he went on to found securities firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which he became CEO of prior to its acquisition by Equitable Life in 1985. Jenrette became CEO of Equitable Life in 1990.

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Jenrette’s true passion, however, was buying and preserving 19th century mansions throughout New York, North and South Carolina and St. Croix island. According to the Journal, one of his favorite properties was the Barrytown mansion he bought from Gore Vidal in 1969 known as Edgewater. He bought 12 similar mansions over the course of his life and retained about half of them.

Speaking about each house he acquired to Harvard University, Jenrette said, “Each one could be a time capsule or case history chronicling the ups and downs of the American economy, in war and in peace.”

In 1993, he founded the nonprofit, the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, to preserve examples of 19th century American architecture, landscape and decorative art. He died on April 22. [WSJ]Erin Hudson

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