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From Journalist, Michael Watts
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J. Tomilson Hill: Warrior, dealmaker, collector


In the art world as on Wall Street, J. Tomilson Hill plays to win. He is now opening a dedicated space for his stellar collection, as he explains to Michael Watts

Barbarians at the Gate — a suspenseful, journalistic book about the bidding war for US tobacco and food giant R.J.R. Nabisco — describes the excesses and rivalries that accompanied the mania for leveraged buyouts in 1980s corporate America. This was a time when titanic personalities, not algorithms and derivatives, governed Wall Street.

The ‘barbarians’ of the title were a tribe of sharp dressers with even sharper brains. Among them was an investment banker who is likened in the book to a ‘jungle fighter’ in braces, with an ‘oiled-back Gordon Gekko haircut’ and a manner characterised as ‘charming but rarely glib; sometimes it seemed as if he chose every word from a dictionary’. This is J. Tomilson Hill, an Upper East Side blue-blood, Harvard College and Business School graduate, and a ‘warrior’ among dealmakers.

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