The Judgment of Solomon

The New York mag piece was a reflection of how bad things have gotten between David Solomon and the press.
The New York mag piece was a reflection of how bad things have gotten between David Solomon and the press. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune
William D. Cohan
August 16, 2023

By now, of course, most of you are likely well aware of the latest media headache to hit Goldman Sachs, in the form of twin articles last Friday in the Times and New York magazine—the latest entrants in the oeuvre about David Solomon’s precarious position atop the firm. The Times article was mostly a rehash of the slings and arrows that Solomon has faced for months now—sniping about his abrasive personality, the DJ-ing, the private jet trips, the stumbles in consumer banking, the rough second quarter, etcetera. Except for the story’s lede: that was new and revelatory. 

According to the TimesRob Copeland, Solomon’s predecessor, Lloyd Blankfein, was so upset by his tenure that he called the Goldman C.E.O., in June, to complain—pissed off that his Goldman stock had allegedly lost $50 million in value and offering to return to Goldman to help, in an almost Igerian twist. Blankfein’s call to Solomon appeared to be an escalation from the Journal’s report, in June, that Blankfein had “groused” about Solomon in February at a Goldman confab in Miami. 

The problem is that Copeland’s anecdote may have been apocryphal. During a subsequent CNBC appearance, Blankfein said the Times “misquoted” him and that he never used the word “return” with Solomon and that he only called to be “helpful” to his successor. “I can’t imagine returning to the firm,” Blankfein said. “I think my days working 100-hour weeks are over.” Blankfein’s version was squared by Tony Fratto, the former D.C. insider who became Goldman’s head of comms earlier this year, who was in a meeting with Solomon and John F. W. Rogers, the longtime Goldman consigliere, when the call from Blankfein came in. After the conversation ended, Solomon returned to the meeting and recounted his conversation to them. According to Fratto, Solomon told his colleagues that Blankfein told him he felt “bad” that the comments at the hotel bar had been “reported” and offered to be “helpful” to David.