Maurice "Hank" Greenberg is the chairman and CEO of the private investment and insurance company C.V. Starr & Co. He's far better known as the former chairman and CEO of the insurance giant AIG, a job he was hounded out of by former attorney general Eliot Spitzer.
The child of a candy store owner on the Lower East Side who died when he was five, Hank Greenberg knows about doing battle: He was on Omaha Beach on D-Day. A lawyer by training, Greenberg spent more than four decades working in the insurance business, joining AIG in 1960 and taking over as chief executive in 1968 following the retirement of founder Cornelius Vander Starr. The savviest insurance executive of his generation and once one of the most powerful and feared CEOs in America, Greenberg's legendary career was derailed by a battle he did not win: When he clashed with then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer over allegations AIG had engaged in fraudulent business practices, Greenberg was pushed out as AIG's chairman and CEO in 2005. Criminal charges against Greenberg were never filed, but he's spent the past few years in a bruising legal battle with his former employer.
Greenberg was responsible for building AIG into the behemoth it is today—he raised AIG's stock market value 129-fold during his nearly four decades as chief executive. But the notoriously temperamental insurance chieftain tempted fate when he decided to take on a blood-thirsty Eliot Spitzer and refused to cooperate with a criminal investigation into accusations that AIG had been cooking the books. His combative stance and his refusal to settle ultimately led to his ouster from AIG in 2005 (he was replaced as chief executive by Martin Sullivan), but few expected Greenberg to head off into the sunset quietly.
After he took control of several AIG affiliates—C.V. Starr, Starr International Company, and the Starr Foundation—an extraordinarily messy legal brawl ensued as the two sides traded nearly two dozen lawsuits over Greenberg's alleged responsibility for financial misdeeds at AIG, his stake in the insurance behemoth, and his plans to sell his stake in C.V. Starr back to AIG. (Greenberg was aided by an all-star cast of lawyers, including David Boies, Kenneth Bialkin, and Robert Morvillo.) Although several of the suits were settled in 2006, Greenberg continues to rattle his saber. As one of the company's largest single shareholders—he controls nearly 10 percent of the company—Greenberg still exerts his influence on the insurance giant. And as the chief of C.V. Starr, he now competes with AIG, too.
Forbes estimates Greenberg's net worth at $3.0 billion.
A major philanthropist both on his own and in his capacity as the head of the Starr foundation, Greenberg has donated close to $100 million to Weill Cornell over the past few years. (That makes him the second most popular man with Weill Cornell dean Antonio Gotto Jr.: Hank's pal Sandy Weill has kicked in more than a quarter-billion in recent years.) Greenberg also donated tens of millions to Yale, including a $50 million gift in 2004 to finance an Asian studies program. The chairman emeritus of New York-Presbyterian and a life trustee of New York University, other beneficiaries of his generosity include Rockefeller University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Union, and Harlem Children's Zone.
For the record
An account of Greenberg's downfall can be found in Fallen Giant: The Amazing Story of Hank Greenberg and the History of A.I.G., which was published by former Greenberg lieutenant Ron Shelp in 2006.
Greenberg and his wife Corinne have four children: Jeffrey, Evan, Scott, and Cathleen. The couple lives on East 66th Street and has a home in Brewster, NY. They also have a house in Key Largo, Florida, where Greenberg docks his yacht.
Insurance is a family affair: All four children have worked in the business. Greenberg's son, Jeffrey, the former CEO of Marsh & McLennan, was also the target of Eliot Spitzer's ire: He was forced out of the company after the former attorney general accused the company's insurance brokerage unit of rigging bids and accepting kickbacks. Greenberg's son, Evan, runs the insurance company ACE Limited.