Leon Levy (1925-2003) was, to quote Forbes magazine, a “Wall Street investment genius and prolific philanthropist” who helped create both mutual funds and hedge funds.
As a young man, he was close to his father, the economic analyst Jerome Levy (1882 – 1967), who strongly influenced his son’s career and values. “Dad did not view economics as a way to make money, but as a way to improve society,” Leon once remembered, explaining a fundamental belief he shared.
Leon Levy spent his professional life on Wall Street, starting out as a research analyst right after leaving the U.S. Army. Within three years, he was the youngest partner of Oppenheimer & Co. During the next five decades, he became one of the most innovative and influential figures in the financial world. From the start, he was a generous patron of the arts and a benefactor of a wide range of causes and institutions; he did not turn to philanthropy at the end of his life.
As an undergraduate at City College of New York, Leon’s favorite course was in abnormal psychology, and he always maintained a keen interest in studies of the brain. Late in life, he was President of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Mr. Levy graduated from Townsend Harris High School in Manhattan in 1939 and from the City College of New York in 1948. He majored in psychology. His grades prevented him from being admitted to an advanced course on security analysis.
n 1948 Mr. Levy took a job as a stock analyst with Hirsch & Company, a small firm. When Max Oppenheimer left to set up his own firm, Mr. Levy went with him as chief research analyst. The firm now manages more than $120 billion. By 1957, Mr. Levy and Jack Nash had become managing partners. In 1982, they sold Oppenheimer and formed Odyssey Partners, which was a $3 billion hedge fund before it was dissolved in 1997 in favor of smaller, less unwieldy operations.
In addition to his wife Shelby White and a brother, Jay, who lives in Somers, N.Y., Mr. Levy is survived by his daughter, Tracy White of Manhattan.more » « less