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Seth Glickenhaus, Investor With Eight-Decade View, Dies at 102

Seth Glickenhaus, a bond trader turned money manager whose studies of law and medicine failed to lure him away from Wall Street, his professional home for more than eight decades, has died. He was 102.

He died Saturday at home in New Rochelle, New York, his daughter, Nancy Glickenhaus, said by telephone. He worked until the day of his death, managing his investments.

Friday afternoon, “at 4:15, I told him the P&L for the day,” his daughter said. “He kept insisting there was some news on some of the shipping stocks.” Later, “he went to bed and he didn’t wake up,” she said.

From his start as a messenger at Salomon Brothers & Hutzler in the run-up to the 1929 stock-market crash, to his stewardship of Glickenhaus & Co. well into his 90s, Glickenhaus witnessed ups and downs that younger colleagues learned about from books. As senior partner and chief investment officer, he reported daily to his firm’s midtown Manhattan office and oversaw four other money managers, including his son, James.

“The thing that keeps me young is coming down here and managing money for my clients and for the firm,” he told CBS News in 2008. “I love the challenge and I love the stress involved. I think that’s what’s kept me alive and kept me at the point where I’m now approaching middle age, at the age of 94.”

In October 2012, Glickenhaus & Co. announced it was moving its $900 million in client investments to Neuberger Berman’s Straus Group.

“When you get older, your vision and hearing isn’t what it was, and that makes it tougher to manage money,” said Glickenhaus, then 98.

Investment Approach

In bull and bear markets, he took a long view. An avowed value investor, Glickenhaus largely sat out the boom in Internet stocks, losing money in 1998 as Yahoo! Inc. and others surged.

“Sure, it was frustrating,” he said in January 1999. “But people who buy stocks are too interested in how much money they’ll make. That’s stupid. It’s risk-reward we look at.”

In October 2008, during the financial crisis that imperiled banks and sent equity markets plunging, Glickenhaus sounded an optimistic note, predicting “a new boom market” within weeks. His timing was off, his sentiment spot on: a prolonged bull market began four months later, in March 2009.

Convertible bonds, which can be exchanged for common stock, were Glickenhaus’s investment of choice, and they provided him a fortune early in his life.

AT&T Trade

Throughout 1958, Glickenhaus and his partner, Lawrence Lembo, accumulated a large stake in American Telephone & Telegraph Co. convertible bonds yielding 4.25 percent. They sold the bonds in April 1959 after AT&T split its shares 3-for-1, making their position equivalent to 330,000 shares. At about $85 a share, they sold for about $28 million -- giving them a profit of $8 million before taxes, equivalent to $65 million today.

BusinessWeek magazine reported their coup in a story headlined, “Job’s Done -- $8 Million Killing.” Lembo, then 57, said he planned to spend time traveling. Glickenhaus, then 45, decided it was time to become a doctor.

He completed pre-medical classes at Columbia University, and won admission to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, before choosing to remain in finance.

“The lure of Wall Street was too great,” he said in a 1994 interview.

Founded Firm

He formed Glickenhaus & Co. in 1961. The firm began managing assets for clients, including pension funds, in 1974 and had $1.3 billion under management at the start of 2010.

“In the middle of the night, I wake up and I’m thinking of stocks,” he said in 1996, according to the New York Times. “I’m reading newspapers. I’m reading magazines. I’m reading annual statements. We have the world calling us with what they think are cheap stocks. You would not believe the number of companies that have come into this office to make presentations. We are inundated with ideas. Ours is an editing job.”

Seth Morton Glickenhaus was born March 12, 1914, in New York City, the son of an insurance broker. As a teenager he held a summer job as a messenger for Salomon Brothers that ended just two months before the Black Tuesday market crash of 1929.

College Path

With a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University, he returned to Salomon in 1934 to work in its municipal bond department, at $48 a week.

“In those days, you had to be an excellent mathematician,” he told Bloomberg Radio in 1999. “You didn’t have computers -- although there were slide rules, none of us used them -- and we were all able to do even complicated arithmetic in our heads.”

Glickenhaus took law classes at night at New York University, earning his degree in 1938. He left Salomon to form Glickenhaus & Lembo -- declining, he said, Herbert Salomon’s offer to double his weekly salary.

“I told the partners, ‘There goes $1 million walking out the door,’” Charles J. Simon, a Salomon Brothers general partner at the time, told Bloomberg News in 1994, referring to Glickenhaus.

Marriage, Children

Glickenhaus worked for U.S. Army intelligence during World War II. In 1944, he married the former Sarah Brody. In addition to their daughter, his survivors include their son, James, a filmwriter and car collector.

Long interested in politics, Glickenhaus was among hundreds of Americans listed by President Richard Nixon’s administration as “enemies.” The list was given to the Internal Revenue Service in 1972 with instruction to “see what type of information could be developed” about those named.

In a 1997 interview with the Times, Glickenhaus said he landed on the list for seeking approval from the New York Stock Exchange to close his firm for one day to protest the Vietnam War. Denied permission, he took out newspaper ads saying the firm would instead donate money to antiwar groups. When he found out he made Nixon’s list, “it was the proudest day of my life,” he told the Times.

The family has supported charities through the Glickenhaus Foundation, which distributed almost $9.4 million in 2010, including $4 million to the Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Friedman Brain Institute in New York City.

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