Charlie Bluhdorn: The Conglomerate Boom's Tragic Hero
“He really was a romantic businessman. I'd never seen that before, and I've never seen it since.” Barry Diller
I sat down last night and rewrote this entire piece. I realized I’d fallen into a trap.
Imagine yourself as a teenager. You’re a refuge. You have to find your way and make your home in a foreign country. People mock you for your thick accent, your oddities. You don’t belong to the establishment. You’re hell to work for. but by god, you have boundless energy and ambition. You build. You deal. You come up with one idea after another.
You start in commodities trading, roll up auto parts suppliers into the nation’s biggest network, then assemble a conglomerate with more than $5 billion in sales.
And you become a true patriot.
“I’ve called … Gulf + Western the American Dream. Forgive me if I talk that way about it. But it’s a love affair with Gulf + Western and with America. The thing that made us try the impossible, and meet the impossible dream.”
Four decades after your death some writer comes along and figures out that your career shared some interesting parallels with Warren Buffet, that p…