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|“||Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.||„|
|~ Gorden Gekko|
Gordon Gekko is the main antagonist of the 1987 live action film, Wall Street, and the anti-hero of the 2010 live action film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He is shown as one of the United States' most talented business men, and believes money is the ultimate joy and is most famous for his speech, '"Greed is Good".
He was portrayed by Michael Douglas, who also portrayed William Foster in Falling Down.
Gordon was born in New York on Long Island and quickly worked his way up to being one of the lead companies in New York, then in New England, then one of the leading competitors for being the most fiscally advanced companies in all of the United States. Gordon eventually began immersing himself in the world of illegal information and trade, but due to his influence and sheer mysterious air, no one can really pin him with a legible case except for a few occasions.
Top of the GameIn 1985, Bud Fox, a junior stockbroker at Jackson Steinem & Co., is desperate to get to the top. He wants to become involved with his hero, the corporate raider Gordon Gekko, a ruthless and legendary Wall Street player whose values could not conflict more with those of Bud's father Carl, a blue-collar airline maintenance foreman and union president. Bud visits Gekko on his birthday and, granted a brief interview, pitches him stocks, but Gekko is unimpressed. Realizing that Gekko may not do business with him, a desperate Bud provides him some inside information about Bluestar Airlines, which Bud learned in a casual conversation from his father. Gekko tells him he will think about it. A dejected Bud returns to his office where Gekko places an order for Bluestar stock, becoming one of Bud's clients.
Gekko gives Bud some capital to manage, but the shares Bud selects—by honest research—lose money. Instead, Gekko takes Bud under his wing but compels him to unearth new information by any means necessary, including unethical and illegal means. One of his first assignments is to spy on British corporate raider Sir Lawrence Wildman (Terence Stamp) and discern the Brit's next move. Through Bud's spying, Gekko makes big money, and Wildman is forced to buy Gekko's shares off him to complete his control of a steel company.
Bud becomes wealthy, enjoying Gekko's promised perks, including a penthouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side and a trophy blonde, interior decorator Darien. Still employed by Jackson Steinem, Bud is promoted as a result of the large commission fees he is bringing in from Gekko's trading, and is given a corner office with a view. He continues to maximize insider information and use friends as straw buyers to get rich.
Bud pitches a new idea to Gekko—to buy Bluestar Airlines and expand the company, with Bud as president, using savings achieved by union concessions. Bud persuades his father, Carl, who dislikes Gekko, to get union support for the plan and push for the deal. Things change when Bud learns that Gekko, in fact, plans to sell off Bluestar's assets, leaving Carl and the entire Bluestar staff unemployed. Although this would leave Bud very rich, he is angered by Gekko's deceit and racked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar's destruction. Bud chooses his father over his mentor and resolves to disrupt Gekko's plans. He angrily breaks up with Darien, who refuses to plot against Gekko, her former lover and the builder of her career.
Bud creates a plan to manipulate Bluestar's stock value downwards. Gekko, realizing that his stock is plummeting, finally dumps his remaining interest in the company, only to learn on the evening news that the shares have been picked up at a lower price by Sir Lawrence Wildman, who will become the airline's new majority shareholder. Gekko realizes that Bud engineered the entire scheme. Bud triumphantly goes back to work at Jackson Steinem & Co. the following day, where he is confronted by the police and the Securities and Exchange Commission. He is then placed under arrest for securities fraud and insider trading.
Sometime later, Bud confronts Gekko in Central Park. Gekko berates him for his role with Bluestar. He then assaults Bud, berating his ingratitude for several of their illegal business transactions. Following the confrontation, it is revealed that Bud was wearing a wire to record his encounter with Gekko. He turns the wire tapes over to the federal authorities, who suggest that his sentence will be lightened in exchange for his help. Later on, Bud's parents drive him to the courthouse, and Carl tells him he did right in saving the airline, but he'll most likely go to jail. After arriving, Bud going up the steps of the Supreme Court to face his crimes.
In 1993, Gordon was sent to Otis Federal Prison for insider trading and securities fraud.
Gordon Gekko is released from prison in October 2001, after an almost eight-year prison sentence for insider trading and securities fraud.
Seven years later, Jacob "Jake" Moore is awakened in his apartment by his girlfriend, Winnie. Jake turns on the television, and starts to watch an interview with Gekko. Gekko has become an author and a lecturer, and is now promoting his new book, Is Greed Good?. Winnie gets upset and turns the television off. Winnie is Gekko’s estranged daughter and wants nothing to do with him. Jake drives Winnie to the airport on his motorbike, and she goes off to gather investors for her online political blog.
Jake goes to work at Keller Zabel Investments, one of Wall Street's major investment banks. He tries to raise more money for a fusion research project, which will be a viable source of alternative energy down the line, but the rest of the board does not agree with him. Jake is one of the firm’s top proprietary traders and the protégé of its managing director, Louis Zabel. Zabel has become disillusioned with the industry and does not understand how he can be told a loss is a profit. He gives Jake a $1,450,000 bonus and tells him to spend it and keep the economy going. Zabel also encourages Jake to marry Winnie and have a kid since he knows that growing old is not for the weak and that Jake needs her.
Jake buys Winnie a ring and later goes out for drinks with his broker friend. Jake says that Winnie is not big on marriage, given the outcome of her parents' marriage, but Jake knows that she loves him and he loves her. His broker friend mentions there are rumors that Keller Zabel is in danger, with billions of sub-prime toxic debt off its balance sheets that is going to bring the company down. Jake brushes it off, saying "I'll make you a bet right now. I've got a million dollars left in my bonus, it's yours tomorrow a.m. You put it in KZI shares, you leverage that to the max. That's how much I believe in this company.".
In the next scene, Jake is shown sitting at his trading desk, watching KZI stock crashing more than thirty percent in one day. Zabel meets with the heads of major financial institutions and the Secretary of the US Treasury at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Zabel tries to arrange a bank bailout for KZI, but he is blocked by Bretton James, the CEO of a fictional firm, Churchill Schwartz, that Zabel had refused to bail out eight years prior when they were going under. James insults Zabel by offering to buy Keller Zabel stock at $2 a share (against its $79 trading value from three weeks prior). Zabel gives in, and they settle for $3 a share.
The next morning Zabel wakes up, goes down to the subway, and, as a train pulls in, he jumps on the tracks, killing himself. Jake hears the news of Lou Zabel's suicide on the television. He begins to slowly cry just as Winnie walks in. Jake asks Winnie to marry him, and she accepts. Jake attends a lecture given by Gordon Gekko and hears what Gekko has to say about the upcoming financial crisis. In Gekko's new book he reveals that in his opinion the unrestrained speculation will cause a financial cataclysm, even though everybody is euphoric about the current financial bubble. After the lecture ends, Jake approaches Gekko and tells him that he’s about to marry Winnie. They ride the train together, and Gekko explains that his daughter won’t speak to him because of her brother Rudy’s suicide. Jake sees that Gekko has a photo of Winnie as a toddler and asks if he can have it. Gekko tells him that he will trade Jake for a more recent photograph of Winnie. Gekko gives him the photo and his card so that Jake will find him later on. He also tells Jake that Keller Zabel was in trouble the minute someone started rumors about them and that Jake should look for whoever profited from Keller Zabel’s collapse. From now on, Gekko and Jake agree to make a "trade", so that Jake would enable Gekko to communicate with his estranged daughter, and, in return, Gekko would help Jake collect secret information to destroy Bretton, who ruined KZI.
With the help of Gekko, who is very resourceful, Jake does some digging and realizes that Bretton James profited from the Keller Zabel collapse. In order to get his attention, Jake spreads rumors about the nationalization of an African oil rig that Bretton’s company owns. The company loses $120,000,000, and Bretton asks for a meeting with Jake. At the meeting, he tells Jake that he is impressed and offers Jake a job, making it clear that if Jake doesn’t accept he will have a lot of trouble being hired anywhere else. Determined to take Bretton out and avenge Zabel, Jake accepts.
Jake visits Gekko again and gives him the photo of Winnie that he promised. Gekko tells Jake that his research pointed out that the Locust Fund, a private offshore hedge fund, was betting against Keller Zabel. Jake explains that he was offered a job by Bretton James, and Gekko tells Jake that he suspects it was James’ testimony which got him sent away for eight years. Jake is confused, having assumed that it was Bud Fox who put Gekko away. Gekko explains that Bud Fox got him on insider trading but that was nothing compared to some of Gekko's other activities. He and Bretton had a falling out, and, though he doesn't know for sure, he suspects that Bretton was behind it. Gekko asks for another trade: he wants to have a face to face with his daughter. Jake pretends that he called Gekko to have dinner and ask his approval to marry his daughter, so he and Winnie go to have dinner with him. Winnie realizes that Gekko hasn't changed and leaves upset. Jake pursues her and she tells him that if he goes back, Gekko will destroy them.
At work, Jake is put on the sideline so that Bretton's point woman can take over a pitch to the Chinese. They are unimpressed with her pitch, stating that they are looking for the next big thing in energy. Jake swoops in and presents them with the fusion research he has been supporting. Bretton is impressed by Jake's initiative and is glad that the firm has made more money. However, the firm is in trouble but Bretton doesn't want anyone to know. The economy is slowly starting to crumble. Bretton hosts a fundraiser and invites Jake and Winnie. Gekko asks Jake to front him 10 thousand dollars so that Gekko can also attend and have another chance to reconcile with Winnie. During the party, Bretton tells Jake that the Chinese are going to invest $150 million in the fusion research Jake has been supporting. Jake calls the head researcher and tells him that the money is on its way. The day the economy collapses, Jake is at his apartment and tells Winnie that the world as they know it is over. Winnie tells him that is unacceptable because she is pregnant.
The economy is in the tank. Numerous companies are failing. During a motorcycle ride (fueled by Jake's comments about his superior riding ability compared to Bretton's during their first meeting), Bretton tells Jake that the money the Chinese invested is going into fossil fuels instead of fusion research. Jake gets angry knowing that Bretton is trying to sink the fusion research since it is not financially profitable for him, even though it would benefit the entire world. Bretton would be unable to control the potentially unlimited source of energy once the fusion technology becomes established, unlike with the oil industry where the resources are scarce. Jake tells Gekko about what happened, and Gekko reveals that there is a solution: Winnie has an account in Switzerland with 100 million dollars, which Gekko set up in the 1980s when she was born. He told her that once he was out of jail, he would need that money to reassert himself, but Winnie reneged when Rudy died. Jake could use that money to fund the research and save the company. But since Winnie never declared it, she could go to jail for tax evasion. Gekko tells Jake that he can embezzle it with his old contacts. Jake believes him and goes to talk to Winnie. At Winnie's office, Jake asks why she never mentioned the money. Winnie is shocked that he knows, but Jake gets enthusiastic about the fusion research and tells her that this is her chance to make a difference. She agrees and the two fly to Switzerland. She signs the money over to Jake. Jake then entrusts the money to Gekko so that he can legitimize the funds for the investment in the fusion research company.
A few hours after returning to New York, Jake gets a call saying that the money never arrived. He goes to Gekko's apartment and finds it empty; Gekko's gone. Jake tells Winnie what happened and that he's been talking to Gekko for a while. She tells Jake to leave: she no longer trusts him or feels safe around him. He leaves bitterly and tracks Gekko to London, where Gekko is running a financial company again with his 100 million. Jake propositions him for one last trade: Winnie gets her 100 million back and Gekko gets a grandson. Jake shows him the ultrasound of his son but Gekko, despite being moved, cannot let go of being someone of importance. He tells him that it's not about money; it's about the game. Gekko says that giving the money away is a "trade he cannot make." Jake leaves.
Over the next few weeks, by using the previous information collected by Gekko about Bretton, Jake begins piecing together everything from Keller Zabel’s collapse to the economic bailouts being issued for Bretton’s company. He gives the information to Winnie, telling her that it will put her website on the map for good as a legitimate source of information and that he misses her like crazy. Winnie runs the story, and Bretton James is exposed. The board of directors kicks him out of the company, and Bretton is forced to testify to his crimes. Bretton's board of directors go to Gekko in order to start business with him, in view of the new credibility Gekko gained through his London firm's astounding success: by correctly predicting the coming financial collapse, Gekko traded the market in such a way that he has turned the $100 millions into an incredible sum in excess of $1 billion.
Jake sees Winnie walking to her apartment and helps her carry her things. Their son has been kicking and keeping her up at night. Jake feels his son's kicks and Winnie thanks him for the help but they do not reconcile. Gordon appears and tells them that he deposited the $100 million into Fusion's account anonymously. Now that Gekko has attained his goal of becoming a billionaire, he feels that giving back that relatively small amount from his empire would be an act of charity. He apologizes and asks to become a grandfather. Jake kisses Winnie and they reconcile before the birth, and, one year later, they celebrate their son's first birthday with a party, at which Gordon is also present.
Attitudes and Behaviors
Gordon is ruthless and cutthroat when it comes to the world of business. There are no friends, only people to use to get further in the rat race of Wall Street. While he is cruel and ruthless, he also has an odd sense of humor, taking in a young and impatient Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) to teach him how to get ahead in the free market, or in his words, the only market worth having.
Symbolism in the World Today
Gordon symbolizes pure, untainted greed. He has more than any man could ever dream of, and yet he won't stop until he has more, and more. He never stops, nor does he ever show any real happiness towards making large amounts of money. He is just so used to making so much money it seems natural and he just continues on. In this sense he is greed itself, wanting more and more but never really specifying when whatever he desired was enough.
Greed is Good Speech
- In 2003, the American Film Institute (AFI) named him number 24 of the top 100 film villains ever.
- In 2008, Gekko was named the fourth richest fictional character by Forbes who attributed him $8.5 million.
- Wall Street and Fatal Attraction both came out in 1987, and Michael Douglas starred in them both.