Behind the scenes of Wall Street excess

'Straight to Hell' author John LeFevre on the culture of Wall Street.

Deals, Drinking & Hookers: Tales from Goldman Sachs Elevator Gossip

In August 2011, a former editor at GQ started an anonymous, now defunct, Twitter feed called ‘Conde Elevator,’ featuring gossip and The Devil Wears Pradaesque comments supposedly overheard in the Condé Nast elevators. Its purpose was to mock the culture of some of the world’s glossiest magazines.

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After Conde Elevator was born, the feed received widespread media attention, and caught the eye of one mischievous banker, John LeFevre. A few months later, the Twitter account Goldman Sachs Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) was born. Some of the tweets are LeFevre’s creations, and others are submissions he receives via email. @GSElevator was an instant hit, attracting a variety of fans from everyone who was purely entertained by the feed to those with anti Wall Street sentiment.

In the three years since its 2012 inception, the feed boasts over 700,000 followers, has an accompanying Instagram account and an upcoming book reviewed by FOXBusiness.com called ‘Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery and Billion-Dollar Deals’ detailing LeFevre’s wild stories during his time as a globetrotting banker. 

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According to LeFevre in his new book, the premise of @GSElevator, was “to illuminate Wall Street culture in an entertaining and insightful way.” He claims that Goldman Sachs (GS) was the unlucky institution to be spotlighted given its number one enemy status of Main Street and the media, most notably Rolling Stone’s 2010 article referring to the bank as a “great vampire squid.”

From 2011 to 2014 LeFevre has gone back and forth with multiple media outlets including DealBook and the Financial Times on whether or not he was ever employed by Goldman Sachs. Finally last year LeFevre confirmed to DealBook that “legally speaking I was never explicitly an employee of the firm.”

The book’s publisher, Grove Atlantic, states in LeFevre’s author bio that he was indeed offered a position (Head of Asia Debt Syndicate) with Goldman in 2010, but could not accept due to a contractual limitation--hence he never worked at Goldman. In the book, LeFevre notes that he was offered this job just one month after being expelled from his Hong Kong Four Seasons apartment for harassing taxi drivers, cursing at security and eating and drinking in the pool among other offenses.

LeFevre has no regrets about lying though as he writes “What mattered more was that the authenticity of my voice ruffled feathers and captivated people around the world and across the spectrum.”

 

The media backlash that ensued after it was confirmed that LeFevre never worked at Goldman shows that many people believed that what was tweeted were actual quotes said in Goldman Sachs’ elevators. LeFevre’s response to anyone who thought @GSElevator was real is an ‘idiot.’

The book, however, is real according to LeFevre, and it’s everything that fans would both expect and want it to be. Readers are introduced to LeFevre’s personality from his high school days at the elite Connecticut boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall, where his desire to work on the Street crystallized. During his senior year, LeFevre was on track to be suspended for cheating, after an academic judicial panel unanimously found him guilty. He appealed this ruling and it was subsequently overturned. As he writes “making me the first and only case in Choate history (that I know of) where a unanimous judicial committee decision has been overturned.”

 

Pulling pranks on coworkers seem to be a common theme of LeFevre’s former banking life. One anecdote describes filling a bachelor party-bound colleague’s suitcase with pornographic magazines and a spatula bent in the shape of a gun. While going through security, his suitcase set off alarms at the TSA checkpoint and resulted in sheer embarrassment for said colleague as the TSA officer unpacked the contents of his suitcase in front of the bachelor party. Another incident involved LeFeve replacing a colleague’s $2,000 custom made shoes with bright red wooden Dutch clogs before the colleague left for a weekend trip to meet his girlfriend’s family. Needless to say, the colleague was not amused when he opened his suitcase.

LeFevre also highlights in multiple stories how prevalent prostitutes were, especially on business trips. During a trip to Singapore, LeFevre describes how he woke up one morning next to a prostitute demanding him to pay for her services. With no cash on him and refusing to leave the hotel to access an ATM, LeFevre cleared out alcohol and snacks from the mini bar to compensate her, which she gladly accepted.

 

The book, which is out on Tuesday July 14, is currently the number one bestseller on Amazon Kindle in the “banks and banking” genre.

 

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