Entry dated :: May 15, 1987
Encino, California  
Mike Milken :
The Reclusive Billionaire

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 investigation.

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 one car."

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.

Questions? Email me at edepstein@worldnet.att.net
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