Leon Black’s Not Good, Very Bad Year – Mother Jones

Over the past four decades, private equity has become a powerful and malicious force in our daily life. In our May / June 2022 issue, Mother Jones investigates the vulture capitalists who chew and spit out American businesses, the politicians who empower them, and the common people who react. Find the complete package here.

On January 20, 2020, the day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in the United States, private equity billionaire Leon Black appeared on the cover of Bloomberg Business Week. He smiled broadly in black and white under a cold, sans-serif title: Ruthless. “Nobody makes money”, the cover reads, “like Apollo’s Leon Black”.

It seemed like the perfect time to write about Black, whose company the writers called “the predatory pinnacle of Wall Street.” Over the past decade, Apollo’s managed assets have grown sixfold and Black’s personal fortune has grown to $ 9.5 billion. The top-tier art collector even became MoMA’s board chair in 2018.

But the Bloomberg profile even behind the storm clouds ahead. Jeffrey Epstein had served on Black’s family board of trustees, he noted, and Epstein’s arrest for sex trafficking and subsequent death forced Apollo to work overtime to distance himself from him. After New York Times reported in October 2020 Black had transferred at least $ 50 million to Epstein, the board of Apollo hired Wall Street law firm Dechert investigates. In January 2021, Dechert’s report stated that Black had sent Epstein $ 158 million from 2012 to 2017 and Black had announced that he would quit his CEO job later in the year. (The investigation found no evidence that Black was “involved in any way in Epstein’s criminal activities.”)

Then, in March, a former Russian model named Guzel Ganieva tweeted that “she was harassed and sexually abused” by Black “for years.” Five days later, Black he resigned as CEO. In an April statement, he claimed that his relationship with Ganieva was consensual and that she had extorted him “for many years”; weeks later, Ganieva sued Black for libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gender-based violence, including rape. Black denied his claims and counterattacked Ganieva for libel and racketeering. (Ganieva’s attorney declined to comment; in a statement, Black’s attorney called her allegations “completely false.”) In other legal documents, she accused her former Apollo partner Josh Harris of exploiting the Black’s ties to Epstein in an effort to oust him from the position of CEO, a claim Harris denied.

It was enough to send most companies into a spiral of damage control and litigation. But no one earns like Apollo: in 2021, its share price jumped 50% and it was able to reach its goal of managing $ 1 trillion in assets by 2026.