News broke today that hedge fund manager David Tepper is all set to buy the Carolina Panthers after Jerry Richardson was forced to put the team up for sale amid a sexual harassment scandal. Tepper will reportedly pay $2.2 billion for the team, and I know you’re wondering about one thing and one thing only: Is this guy enough of a disgusting nightmare rich guy to fit in with all the disgusting nightmare rich guys who own NFL teams?
Thankfully, we have this 2010 New York magazine profile of Tepper to put all doubts to rest. Read it to discover how Tepper made his money—by swimming in junk bonds at Goldman Sachs and then starting his own vulture fund—but also to discover that he is (or at least used to be) a real piece of work. Did he used to keep a grotesque brass bust of testicles on his desk to demonstrate what a big-balled captain of the markets he is? Of course:
Tepper has a pair of brass testicles. Cartoonishly huge and grotesquely veiny, they are affixed to a plaque inscribed with the words THE MOST VALUABLE SET OF ALL TIME and are not at all out of place in Appaloosa’s offices, which resemble a high-end sports bar—all polished mahogany and flat-screen TVs and black-and-gold Steelers paraphernalia—or a wealthy frat house. (“We had this client, they make breast implants,” says a former employee. “He loved to keep them on the desk, he’d love to throw them around.”) Appaloosa is staffed almost entirely by men.
Was he known for being rude and abusive to his employees, no doubt in an attempt to teach them that they were swimming with the sharks now? He sure was:
By all accounts, Tepper’s personal volatility is as up and down as his returns. “He’s an asshole, to say the least,” says someone who worked with him. “I had stuff thrown at me. He can be a nice guy off the desk, in the kitchen or walking to the car. It’s almost like Jekyll and Hyde, you didn’t know any given day who was going to walk through the door.” This is not merely someone with a grudge. When Tepper coached elementary-school kids in softball, Phil Glassman says, he could be heard screaming all the way down the block.
Tepper admits he can be difficult. “I used to be worse,” he says over the phone. “When I was at Goldman, I’d say things to people like, ‘Do you know what a schmuck is? Go look in the mirror.’ Now I’m kinder and gentler. Aren’t I kinder and gentler?” he asks his employees.
In the background there’s silence.
“Aren’t I kinder and gentler?”
I can’t wait to see what happens when this guy and Jerry Jones are in a room together.