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The Ackman-Döpfner Non-Escalation Treaty

Mathias Döpfner
At the very least, the Ackman-Döpfner summit almost certainly set the stage for a more sensible, non-litigious end to this whole affair. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
February 21, 2024

Late last month, at the urging of mutual acquaintances, Bill Ackman, the voluble hedge fund manager and self-styled messiah of the anti-woke movement, and Mathias Döpfner, the Axel Springer chairman and C.E.O., agreed to meet for dinner at Daniel, on East 65th Street. The summit was, of course, an attempt at détente. 

For weeks, Ackman had been waging a holy war—public threats, appeals to investors, dissertation-length tweets, etcetera—to persuade Axel to disavow and retract reports from Business Insider, one of the largest assets in its U.S. portfolio, that accused his wife, Neri Oxman, of plagiarism. This was a significant detour from Ackman’s initial mission to combat antisemitism and D.E.I. on college campuses after Hamas’s attack on Israel, and one that made Ackman the hero of his own incessant microdrama, which he seemed to relish. Alas, as Proverbs reminds us, the lord works in mysterious ways.