DEATHS

Martin Zweig, Wall Street wiz, dies in at Fisher Island home

 

ebrecher@MiamiHerald.com

A decade before he foresaw the 1987 stock market crash, Marty Zweig was already considered a Wall Street wizard.

By 1981, the Coral Gables High School graduate had been called “the country’s hottest investment adviser” by famed business journalist Dan Dorfman. Money magazine put him on the cover in 1982, and Louis Rukeyser made him a regular on the PBS financial show Wall Street Week.

More than 6,000 subscribers were paying $95 a year for 18 mimeographed editions of The Zweig Forecast, his investment letter.

He wrote two best-selling books: Winning on Wall Street, in 1986, and Winning with New IRAs, in 1987.

On Oct. 19 that year, just as Zweig had predicted three days earlier on Wall Street Week, the market plummeted 23 percent, cementing his reputation as a financial “guru.’’

Zweig, whose three-story Pierre Hotel penthouse is one of New York City’s most lavish residences, died Feb. 18 at his South Florida home, on Fisher Island. He was 70.

Zweig had been treated for cancer, and underwent a liver transplant in 2010 with tissue from his younger son.

Born Martin Edward Zweig on July 2, 1942, in Cleveland, he grew up in Coral Gables, where he was known as Marty Gateman after his widowed mother remarried.

He attended Coral Gables Elementary and Ponce de Leon Junior High schools, played varsity basketball and ran track for the Coral Gables Cavaliers, class of 1960. In 2001, he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

Childhood friend Richard B. Bermont, a Miami financial adviser, remembered Zweig as a great poker player even in high school, and “pretty much a jokester.’’

He legally changed his last name back to Zweig when he was 21, said former wife Mollie Friedman Zweig.

Zweig wrote that his interest in finance began when the 1948 Cleveland Indians played in the World Series.

“I was the kid who knew the most about the team and had a vague idea about what batting averages mean. I had begun to love numbers. Perhaps this was a tip-off that I’d later graduate to the market.’’

He earned a bachelor’s in economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, later an M.B.A. from the University of Miami and a doctorate in finance from Michigan State University.

In 1984, he joined with stock picker Joe DiMenna, with whom he co-founded Zweig-DiMenna Partners, their first long/short hedge fund.

Zweig also created two closed-end funds traded on the New York Stock Exchange, according to his corporate biography: The Zweig Fund in 1986 and The Zweig Total Return Fund in 1988.

In his first book, Zweig wrote: “When playing the market, remember you must deal with probabilities, employ sensible strategies to limit risk, and get aggressive only when conditions warrant.’’

The 1996 Stock Trader’s Almanac included Zweig’s brief analysis of his own success: “I measure what’s going on and I adapt to it. I try to get my ego out of the way. The market is smarter than I am, so I bend.”

Zweig was as quirky in his private life as he was serious about investing. Last year, he hired a crane to install a yellow, 1934 Packard convertible — a birthday present from wife Barbara — in their fifth-floor Fisher Island living room.

His memorabilia collection includes the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962; a pair of JFK’s pajamas; suits worn in performances by Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles; Super Bowl rings, Heisman Trophies, Oscar statuettes and Gold Records; a Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide motorcycle that actor Peter Fonda rode in the film Easy Rider; the booking sheet from one of Al Capone’s arrests; and a letter written by baseball legend Mickey Mantle describing a sexual encounter at Yankee Stadium.

A passionate salsa dancer and lifelong poker player, Zweig was “the kind of guy who enjoyed life and was the life of the party,’’ said Fisher Island friend Stan Smith.

Zweig met his first wife at Wolfie’s 21, the famous Miami Beach deli. They married in 1965 at Temple Beth Sholom, had son Zachary, now a New York jazz musician, in 1979, and son Alex, studying for an M.B.A. at New York University, in 1982.

They remained friends after divorcing in 1997.

“I thought he was going to be a professor,’’ said Mollie Zweig, which he was, at several colleges in New York State, before devoting himself to finance. “He had a lot of ambition, was very bright, very focused on the market.’’

With success came a Park Avenue apartment and a weekend house in the Hamptons, where Zweig began collecting. It started with Americana, Mollie Zweig said: vintage gas pumps, oil-company signs, juke boxes and a “fabulous’’ red 1976 Cadillac El Dorado convertible.

Zweig married Barbara, another Wall Streeter, on Valentine’s Day in 1998. The following year, they bought the Pierre penthouse, at $21.5 million, the most expensive residence in New York at the time.

They added the Fisher Island place in 2002, because “he loved it down here,’’ his wife said, then a 187-foot luxury yacht for round-the-world cruises.

Zweig called the boat The BAD Girl — for Barbara Ann Digan.

Childhood friend Carlton Cole, a Miami real-estate appraiser, said that despite his success and wealth, Zweig was “a regular guy’’ who attended high-school reunions and kept up with his classmates.

“He always stayed just the same,’’ said Cole. “He was always nervous about his investments, always worked hard. He never got a swelled head at all.’’

“He was incredibly generous and kind,’’ Barbara Zweig added. “But more than anything, he was one of a kind.’’

In addition to his wife and sons, Marty is survived by his Yorkshire terrier, Murphy. The family suggests memorial donations to the Zweig Family Center for Living Donation at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, or the American Cancer Society.

Services will be private.

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