Donald Trump has tapped Anthony Scaramucci as his new Communications Director — and yes, he’s another Goldman Sachs alum.
Like Trump, the Long Island native and Fox News pundit is an obsessive self-promoter who misses few opportunities to showcase his lavish wealth and consumption. And like many other Trump appointees, Scaramucci has a long history on Wall Street.
Scaramucci rose in stature in the financial world largely because of his networking abilities, rather than any recognized financial talent. He made a name for himself through running an annual high-profile conference for hedge fund bigwigs that also served as a platform for his own eager self-aggrandizement. One journalist called him “a happy mouthpiece for the most secretive segment of the finance world.”
And now “the Mooch,” as he is commonly known, will be directing the Trump administration’s public relations.
From Goldman Sachs to SkyBridge
Scaramucci earned a Harvard Law degree but went on to fail the New York State bar exam twice. In 1989 he landed a job at Goldman’s real estate investment banking unit, but was fired in 1991. He was later rehired in Goldman’s equities group and then, in 1994, sent to the private wealth management unit, “where he was responsible for building a book of rich investing clients.”
(Shortly after Trump was elected, Scaramucci told CNN that “Goldman Sachs was a phenomenal place when I was there,” and that “It is still a phenomenal place.”)
In 1996, along with Andrew Boszhardt (another Goldman vet), he co-founded a new hedge fund called Oscar Capital Management LLC. Bloomberg reports that: “They built Oscar up to $800 million in assets and brought in billionaire PC maker Michael Dell as a minority stakeholder in the firm. After the dot-com crash hurt Oscar’s performance in 2000 and 2001, they sold the firm to Neuberger Berman Group Inc., a New York asset management firm and brokerage, which was in turn acquired by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2003.”
Scaramucci started Skybridge in 2005. SkyBridge isn’t a typical hedge fund, but rather a fund of funds, which means it invests money in other hedge funds and private equity firms. He attempted to corner the market for investors who are affluent but not ultra-wealthy. From Bloomberg:
For all of the attention Scaramucci is attracting, he’s pushing an investment model — funds of hedge funds — that has lost assets and credibility since the credit crisis. SkyBridge, which manages $2.8 billion in assets, is aiming its funds of funds at so-called mass affluent investors. They are households with a net worth of $100,000 to $1 million not counting their primary residence, according to the Spectrem Group, a Lake Forest, Illinois-based research firm that analyzes wealth trends.
Among the hedge funds that Scaramucci invested in was Daniel Loeb’s Third Point Ultra, which SkyBridge had 8.1 percent of its flagship fund’s assets invested in. The billionaire Loeb — a friend of Scaramucci’s who attends his SALT conferences — has a well-documented record of raiding companies and gutting jobs in order to boost his profits, among other things.
As of December 2016, SkyBridge was reported to have $11.8 billion in assets under its management, according to Yahoo! Finance.
“Wall Street’s Premiere Schmoozer”
Scaramucci has a reputation as “Wall Street’s premiere schmoozer.” One journalist wrote: “No one has ever accused him of being an investment genius; rather, he has built his career on a preternatural ability to schmooze, which is powered by a very genuine, almost pathological, need to be liked.”
He earned a reputation for lavish spectacles, even when many Wall Street firms were toning things down a bit after the 2008 financial crash. As Bloomberg reports:
“At the time, financial firms were canceling conferences in Las Vegas out of concern it would look bad to party in Sin City as taxpayers bailed out Wall Street. Scaramucci had no such qualms. He decided to host his first hedge-fund extravaganza at Encore at Wynn, one of the priciest hotels on the Strip. “I wanted to let people know we were still alive,” he says.”
The extent to which Scaramucci was out of touch with the post-crisis suffering of ordinary Americans was further revealed when he criticized President Obama in September 2010, at a nationally televised town hall meeting, to take it easy on Wall Street. He told Obama: “We have felt like a pinata,” even as Wall Street banks had been bailed out by the President while millions of Americans lost jobs and homes.
Scaramucci’s lavishness was further revealed when he hosted an extravagant wine tasting event at the 2011 World Economic Forum at Davos. One journalist wrote that:
“Wine tasting was historically one of the more interesting and enjoyable events that was put on at Davos, but it got nixed in 2009 when conspicuous consumption of first-growth clarets was considered inappropriate in the face of the global financial crisis.”
But this didn’t stop Scaramucci, who organized a fancy wine tasting, packed with bottles of wine that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars a piece — even though he’s not a big wine fan himself.
“[T]he event really wasn’t remotely conducive to tasting and appreciating the wines, so much as it was a way of celebrating and appreciating Anthony Scaramucci and Skybridge Capital, who underwrote the event. Scaramucci, a member of the Wine Forum, is the first to admit that he’s not much of a wine connoisseur, but he knew what he wanted: he told me that the bill for the event just kept on rising from its initial stratospheric level, as he insisted that if he was going to throw a party, the wine must never run out and must be available in quantity.”
Like Trump, Scaramucci also seems to be obsessed with media self-promotion. He once paid more than $100,000 to get the SkyBridge logo placed in a scene of the second Oliver Stone Wall Street film.
Scaramucci also owns and runs, as part of SkyBridge, the SALT conference, which has been called “the biggest event on the hedge-fund calendar” and “the jewel of the hedge-fund conference circuit.” Journalist Hamilton Nolan, who wrote a long report on the conference, calls it “the capstone” of Scaramucci’s “schmooze-powered empire.” The Las Vegas conference features a slew of private elites — attendees have included Daniel Loeb, Steve Cohen, and many others — as well as celebrities and politicians who get paid big money to speak. For example, Scaramucci paid George W. Bush $175,000 to give a speech in 2011 (a private dinner with Bush afterwards — “a four-course meal featuring filet mignon and Yorkshire pudding slathered in black truffle gravy” — was attended by Michael Milken, Stephen Cohen, and other Scaramucci friends).
Trump Wall Street Fundraiser
Scaramucci has long been involved in politics. He had a “senior role” in Scott Walker’s failed 2016 presidential run, and said of Walker: “He will be the entrepreneurial candidate, tight and lean, figuring out how to do more with less.” He fundraised for numerous candidates, and has donated to Republicans and Democrats alike.
Scaramucci emerged as Trump’s chief Wall Street fundraiser during the 2016 campaign. Fortune reported: “Scaramucci does not have an official role with the Trump campaign, but he is a top Republican bundler, and an adviser to Trump’s national finance committee.” CNBC reported:
“But as Mr. Trump’s unlikely candidacy gained steam, Mr. Scaramucci began to defend him. At last year’s SALT conference, he hosted Steven T. Mnuchin, then Mr. Trump’s campaign finance chairman and now the Treasury secretary.
“Mr. Scaramucci arranged meet-and-greets between Mr. Mnuchin and some of the billionaire hedge fund managers in attendance. The men also shared a meal with Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of the Citadel hedge fund and other conference speakers. Mr. Griffin contributed $100,000 to President Trump’s inauguration.”
After Trump’s election, Scaramucci declared that “the cabal against the bankers is over.” He served on Trump’s transition team and inaugural committee.
After Trump’s election, thinking he was going to work for the administration, Scaramucci sold SkyBridge to a subsidiary of the powerful Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. The New York Times calls it “a secretive Chinese company with deep ties to the country’s Communist Party.” Scaramucci “agreed to sell a majority stake of itself to Chinese billionaire Chen Feng’s HNA Group Co. and RON Transatlantic EG… The deal includes the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, which is valued at about $200 million, and could increase to about $230 million if certain conditions are met.”
Now, after a short stint at the Export-Import bank, Scaramucci finally snagged a coveted position in the Trump administration.