Readers, the other night we met hedge-fund manager John Paulson at Robert Rubin's talk at the 92nd Street Y, which Paulson sponsored. Having made $420 million in the past several months shorting the Royal Bank of Scotland, he was in a position to do so, even though Rubin probably charges a lot. We ran into him on the way out and said hello. He was much cuter in person, and almost ... cuddly. We stood there staring while our friend peppered him with aggressive-ish questions that he politely sort-of answered in his very quiet voice. We did not actually say out loud, "I would like to be inside your brain," but it is possible he heard us thinking it — he is very good at eye contact. Eventually, he politely excused himself, but not before shaking our hand good-bye. His palm was smooth and warm, like it had never touched anything. We watched him begin his walk home, but stopped when he turned around to check that we weren't following him. That was awkward. But the rest of the experience made us feel faintly euphoric. But not nearly as euphoric as Paulson and Co. investors, who received today a confidential letter announcing insane returns that was obtained by DealBook: "We are in an extremely fortunate position to have been solidly profitable in 2008 and have liquidity to take advantage of opportunities in distressed securities," it says. "We believe the universe of opportunities will increase in 2009 creating outstanding investing opportunities at above average returns through 2009 and 2010." Somewhere, Grandpa is smiling.
John Paulson Defies Market and Posts Huge Gains [DealBook/NYT]