A longtime banker at Lazard and former U.S. Ambassador to France, Rohatyn can also claim to have helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the '70s. Now largely retired, he's a senior advisor to Lehman Brothers.
Born into a Jewish family in prewar Vienna, Rohatyn studied in France before his family was forced to flee the advancing Nazis. Arriving in the U.S. on forged papers in 1942, Rohatyn attended Middlebury before joining the fabled firm of Lazard Freres in 1948. By 1961, he was a partner at the boutique bank and over the next two decades he helped Lazard become a powerhouse by forging relationships with such communications and media industry titans as ITT's Harold Geneen, MCA's Lew Wasserman, and Steve Ross of Warner Communications. In 1997, with tensions mounting between Rohatyn and his colleagues (namely Michel David-Weill and Steve Rattner), he left to become President Clinton's Ambassador to France. After his return from Paris in 2000, he set up his own small advisory firm, Rohatyn Associates, and raked in some impressive M&A advisory gigs. (He counseled HSBC on its $10.4 billion purchase of Household Finance and AT&T on the BellSouth acquisition.)
In 2006, Rohatyn wound down his boutique firm, but he hasn't completely retired. He's now a senior advisor at Lehman Brothers, where he's been helping Lehman's CEO, Dick Fuld, bolster its mergers and acquisitions practice in Europe.
Rohatyn has long been a presence on the political scene. When New York City's finances hit the skids in 1975, Governor Hugh Carey called on Rohatyn to help; along with Lew Rudin (the father of Bill Rudin), Rohatyn led the negotiations that restructured more than $7 billion of impending debt payments, saving the city from bankruptcy. A leading Democratic donor for decades, Rohatyn reportedly once hoped to be Treasury Secretary. He bungled his chance when he refused to support Bill Clinton's presidential bid in 1992. (He supported Ross Perot, a client of his.) He earned a consolation prize several years later when Clinton appointed him U.S. Ambassador to France.
Once a notorious womanizer—his rumored conquests over the years include Jackie O, Barbara Walters, and Shirley MacLaine—Rohatyn divorced his first wife, Jeannette, in 1979 so he could marry Elizabeth Vagliano. He has three kids, including a son named Nick, who is married to Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. (Felix's stepdaughter is socialite Nina Griscom.) Elizabeth and Felix live at 810 Fifth Avenue, the same building that's home to Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, and hedge fund manager William von Mueffling. They also have a home in Southampton.