John H. Gutfreund (born September 1929) is an American businessman and investor. He is the former CEO of Salomon Brothers Inc, an investment bank that gained notoriety in the 1980s. Gutfreund turned Salomon Brothers from a private partnership into a publicly traded corporation  which started a trend in Wall Street for investment companies to go public. He became an icon for the excess that defined the 1980s culture in America. In 1985, Business Week gave him the nickname "King of Wall Street".
Early life and education
Gutfreund grew up in a Jewish family in Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City. His father, Manuel Gutfreund, was the owner of a prosperous trucking company. He attended the Lawrenceville School. In 1951, Gutfreund graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio with a degree in English. He considered teaching literature but instead joined the Army. In 1953, he was discharged. His father belonged to the Century Country Club in Purchase, New York (which was at the time a center for the German Jewish establishment) where he often golfed with William (Billy) Salomon, the son of Percy Solomon, one of the three founding brothers of Salomon Brothers. At Billy Salomon's invitation, the young Gutfreund joined Salomon Brothers as a trainee in the statistical department.
After several months, he became a clerk in the municipal bond department, eventually becoming a trader. He rose quickly through the company and became a full partner at the age of thirty four. In 1978, Billy Salomon named Gutfreund to succeed him as head of the firm, becoming the highest paid Wall Street executive at the time.
When Gutfreund was CEO of Salomon Brothers, a major scandal took place regarding the way Treasury bond trading was done by Salomon Brothers. Paul Mozer, a rogue trader, was submitting bids in excess of what was allowed by the Treasury rules. When this was discovered and brought to the attention of Gutfreund, he did not immediately suspend the rogue trader. This, however, did not sit well with Warren Buffett who had just acquired a stock position in Salomon Brothers for Berkshire Hathaway. As a result of the scandal, Gutfreund was forced to resign in 1991.
Since January 2002, Gutfreund has been Senior Managing Director and Executive Committee Member of the investment bank C.E. Unterberg, Towbin. He is also President of Gutfreund & Company, a New York-based financial consulting firm that specialized in advising corporations and financial institutions in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Gutfreund was featured prominently in the 1989 book Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, a former employee of Salomon Brothers. Gutfreund would later tell Lewis that "Your fucking book destroyed my career, and it made yours."
Gutfreund has been married twice:
- In 1958 he married the Jewish American Joyce Low, the daughter of a partner at Bear Stearns. They had three sons. Their names are Nick (b.1959), Josh (b.1961), and Owen (b.1963).
- In 1981, he married flight attendant Susan Penn (maiden name Kaposta) (b. 1946), the daughter of a Hungarian American, US Air Force pilot father and a Spanish American mother. They have one child, John Peter (b. 1985).
- Ex-Salomon Chief's Costly Battle, The New York Times, August 19, 1994
- Michael Lewis, The End, Portfolio.com, 11 November 2008
- "''Liars Poker II'', Timesonline". Timesonline.co.uk. 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- New York Times: "Private Sector; Tapping the Wall Street Melting Pot" By Patrick McGeehan (COMPILED BY RICK GLADSTONE) November 25, 2001
- "NOTABLE ALUMNI". The Lawrenceville School. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
- "New York Stories: Landmark Writing from Four Decades of New York Magazine" By Steve Fishman p171
- TOO FAR, TOO FAST; Salomon Brothers' John Gutfreund, The New York Times, January 10, 1988
- "''Inaction Can be as Dangerous as Bad Action'', Aly Gonenne, Class of 2004, Duke Leadership Development Initiative". Mbaa.fuqua.duke.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- The Economist: "John Gutfreund Resurrection: A Wall Street legend seeks to recapture former glories" May 8th 2003
- John H. Gutfreund Archived June 10, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "John H. Gutfreund's bio". Phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- New York Magazine: "Hard to be Rish" by John Taylor Jan 11, 1988
- New York Times: "A Fallen King In Search of a Lesser Throne" By PETER TRUELL May 03, 1998
- People: "The Party's Over" By Karen S. Schneider September 9, 1991
- People: "Marriage with a Midas Touch" By Elizabeth Sporkin May 07, 1990
- New York Times: "THE SOCIAL SCRAMBLE IS ON" by Charlotte Curtis - Cultural Desk September 17, 1985
- New York Observer: "Consummate Hostess Susan Gutfreund Advises Wall Street Wives to Stay Home" By Irina Aleksander May 5, 2009