This was to be Mike Milken's first interview; he had
finally decided to go public with his revolutionary
ideas about junk bonds. He had to meet with me because
of the intervention of my friend, Jimmy Goldsmith, who
introduced me to him.
I had heard from Goldsmith, through
his sources at Drexel, that Milken had earned that year
over $200 million, making him the highest paid executive
in history. What surprised me was how modestly he lived.
He was wearing tennis shorts, a polo shirt and Reebok
sneakers. His house was a modest 4 bedroom house in
a middle-class neighborhood in Encino in the San Fernando
Valley. It had only a small swimming pool. Inside, he
had no valuable art, or antiques or even fancy electronics,
not even a computer or Reuters machine (Had he hidden
them along with the servants?)
We sat in his modest study at a desk,
he had himself assembled. My first question was why
he now wanted to shed his mantle of reclusiveness.
"I don't want to become a Greta
Garbo," he said. He explained he that, after consulting
with his lawyer, Edward Bennet Williams-- whom I had
see the previous week to clear the interview-- he wanted
"to clear up misconceptions" about who he is, and what
he does. He was now a target in Giuliani's investigation
and he, and presumably Williams, thought it could be
damaging if he was seen as a mysterious recluse with
something to hide. He told me he could not discuss the
Although he tended to be carried
away by his own ideas-- he could go on for twenty minutes
on a single subject. He went to great pains not to make
them lucid. He asked me, "What is your favorite
sport," saying he could provide me with analogies
between that sport and his concepts of corporate financing.
He assumed that I would better understand terms like
"home run," "knock out," "full
court press," and "end run" then equivalent
financial terms. When I answered "Espionage,"
he laughed, and returned to talking in his own lingo.
I brought up competitors-- attacks
on him. But he wouldn't take the bait other than say
he had been wounded by "their arrows."
During the interview, his wife,
Lori, who had been his high school sweet heart, brought
us ice tea. I then asked if he had any other residences,
he replied "I have one house, one wife, one cat and
He interrupted the interview to
cook hamburgers on a grill at the swimming pool for
lunch. After lunch, he described, what he termed
the world according to Milken.