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The Man Who Had Everything


"My parents fought like any other married couple, but my dad had a violent temper," Evan recalls. "I witnessed him being physically abusive to her, and on one occasion I had to pull him off her."

Joy began an affair with New York Court of Appeals chief justice Sol Wachtler, who administered the $3 million trust left to her by her stepfather, and told friends she turned to him because she was afraid of Silverman's control over her money.

"Jeffrey's friends are all asking what could have driven him to this now if he didn't kill himself when she got through with him,'' Hersh says bitterly.

After his marriage to Lisa Tarnopol, Silverman's relationship with the children from his previous marriages disintegrated, Evan says. Members of Joy's family say the split was over the children's refusal to cooperate with him in the divorce proceedings. Silverman's friends say she enforced a code of silence; he was so hurt by the alienation that he left a final note asking that none of them attend his funeral. Joy complied, but Jessica and Evan showed up.

"I've heard about that note, but I don't know anyone who has actually seen it,'' says Evan. "My mother stayed in the marriage because of my sister and me far longer than she should have. She paid a high price for it, but in no way, shape, or form did she discourage us from talking to him. She encouraged us to have a relationship with him. One time, she ran into him at a restaurant and said, 'Jeffrey, enough time has gone by, and you'd be so proud of Evan and Jessica.' He said, 'Joy, you're right. Call me tomorrow and we'll arrange a meeting.' My mom called me crying, she was so happy, and I said, 'He's not going to take your call.' Sure enough, when she called him the next day, he didn't take the call, and I never saw him again.

"We loved our father, and I went to the funeral for the good times we had, not the pain my sister and I had over the last eight years.''

By all accounts, the marriage to Lisa was free of such angst. "I remember when he first met her, he was concerned that she was much younger,'' says a former colleague. "And I said to him, 'Just enjoy it; there are no dress rehearsals.' He loved being able to take care of her, and I think he wasn't happy that they were increasingly having to live through her parents.''

"Jeffrey built a shitty company into something profitable and made a lot of money for himself, if not the shareholders,'' says a Bear Stearns executive. "Recently, Mickey would call people up and ask what they could do to help Jeffrey. People are talking about this as if it's inconceivable. But Jeffrey was a very generous guy, and he thought of himself as a big shot. He couldn't stand to think of himself as not a big shot.''

"His wedding to Lisa was not like anything you've ever been to,'' recalls Hersh. "He seemed to fit into their world so beautifully. He was elegant and a great manipulator of money. But he couldn't stand owing any, and at this point, he just didn't know where to get more."

Not long before his death, Silverman had finally reached out for a different kind of help and started taking antidepressants. "It takes a while for the body to adjust to the medication," says a friend. "He got help, but too late.''

Lisa has returned to her job as a broker at Ashforth Warburg, and neighbors of the Silvermans report that little Jack likes to ride the elevators. When his nanny says it's time to come inside, he always asks the same question: "Will Daddy be there?''

Says one man who was involved in a financial deal with Silverman, "It's so sad. Your children don't really care how much you have; they just want you around. Jeffrey's entire self-worth was based on his net worth."


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