Thursday, April 18, 2024

New York Story: Dead Billionaire Bruce Wasserstein Really Got Around


Lots of stories today in the New York papers about Bruce Wasserstein, the billionaire financier and publisher of New York magazine. He died suddenly in 2009 at age 61 after being hospitalized for heart arrhythmia. Wasserstein had three children from his second marriage. Then he had two more kids from his third marriage.

It turns out he had an illegitimate child from another relationship they, after his marriage ended in 2008. Then he married another woman, Angela Chao, in 2009 right before he died. The funny thing is, I saw him on a date with Chao in 2006, at least, while he was still married to wife number 3 and before he fathered that other child with Erin McCarthy.

How do I know? On November 23, 2006, after the whole Michael Jackson trial was over and things calmed down, one of the principals came to New York and we had dinner at Peter Luger’s restaurant in Brooklyn. We each brought a friend. While I was waiting for our table to be set, I ran into Wasserstein at the bar.He was waiting for his table with Chao. They were obviously a couple. The problem was, he wasn’t divorced or separated. We acknowledged each other in Peter Luger with mutual nods, and he and Chao went upstairs to dinner.

Strangely, I ran into them again a week later. It was a dark blustery day. They were walking arm in arm, wind howling against their backs, on University Place. I saw them, they didn’t see me. I remember thinking, oh, that’s still going on? I did speak with a member of Wasserstein’s family to see if a change had occurred in his marriage. I was going to write about. But the relative expressed surprise and I let it go.

Now, McCarthy is trying to get use of Wasserstein’s mansion in the Hamptons for her child. That kid, by the way, is getting $75 million from Wasserstein’s estate.

No wonder he had heart trouble. Oy vey!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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