Richard C. Perry moved from Chicago to Manhattan when he was ten years old. His mother, Merel, had run a small import business. She is the sister of James Cayne, the former Bear Stearns CEO. Perry’s father, Arnold, managed several firms, among them a business-machine company and a book publisher. His parents divorced when he was Thirteen years old. Richard went to the all-boys Allen-Stevenson School in Manhattan, and then attended the Milton Academy in Milton, Mass. There he worked part-time in the finance department and managed a real estate investment trust as part of a school project. He lit up on finance and attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School as an undergraduate.
The family’s finances were difficult. Richard C. Perry worked as a movie theater usher at nights and was promoted to chain manager. He says, “I always had a sense that I needed to provide for myself, that others weren’t there to do it for me.”
For a summer job in 1975, he got a coveted job at Goldman through his father, who played tennis with one of the partners, L. Jay Tenenbaum. After finishing Wharton, Perry was hired at Goldman full-time. While working there he earned an MBA, studying nights at NYU.
After working at Rubin’s arb desk, Perry quickly became a favored protégé. One reason Rubin says that he liked Perry: “Richard is very thoughtful. His interests go far beyond the business world.” Perry babysat for Rubin’s children. Perry also worked as Rubin’s teaching assistant at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where Rubin worked as an adjunct professor.
By the late 1980s, Richard C. Perry was succeeding big at Goldman. He wanted to be an entrepreneur, though, and he also felt that his compensation didn’t measure up to his contributions to the firm. (In those days Goldman didn’t tie traders’ earnings directly to the amount of money they brought in.) So Perry left and established Perry Capital with Leff. They used offices provided by his uncle Jimmy at Bear Stearns and they worked out of Bear’s offices for five years.