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Drinks with Dali

January 16, 2017

Chapter 62 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

After the departure of John Gruen, Chris Linen felt more at ease. Chris wanted to establish himself as a force at Philipp Brothers and the only way to do that was to make lots of money for the firm. The traders under his command in the precious metals and options department were his assets. The traders in any financial institution are the soldiers on the front line that feel the pulse of markets. The job of the person in charge is to put all of the information together and come up with a strategic plan or positioning for the direction of the department that yields profits.

Under Ray Nessim and John Gruen there were always meetings. The day would start with a sit down before the markets opened to discuss the day’s trading strategy and goals. During the day, when the market moved or an event changed the direction or focus of markets, impromptu meetings on the trading desk would result in alternative courses and strategies.

Chris Linen did not operate in the same manner as his predecessors. He was never in the office when the market opened and during the trading day he would often disappear for hours at a time. He left the traders to do what they did best; buy, sell and make money. However, Chris did love to discuss strategy and he did so outside the office.

The St. Regis Hotel in New York City is in midtown and the King Cole Bar had a long and storied history. The hotel first opened in 1904. It was built by John Jacob Astor IV before he perished on the Titanic. According to Chris, the bartender there made the best martini in the city. Chris would hold court at the bar each night after trading ended. It was an honor for any trader to be invited to accompany the boss for his after work drink, the first time I had the honor he told me all about the place. Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist painter, lived in the St. Regis for over a decade. He signed many of the lithographs that float through the art market in his hotel room there while guzzling martinis. Chris always ordered the same drink, a Gibson- a gin martini with a tiny pearl onion at the bottom of the glass. Chris was a regular, he always had the same table and all of the staff bent over backward when he arrived, which was a weekday event when he was not traveling on business.

With a number 2 Cuban Monte Christo cigar in his hand, the trader and manager in the starch white shirt, pinstripe suit, suspenders and horned rimmed glasses would talk, scheme and laugh with his traders each evening. As my profile had been rising in the department since my score in Sweden and the silver profits Ralph and I amassed, Chris invited me often. In fact, after a few weeks, he wanted me with him each night. I liked to call the after work trip to the St. Regis, drinks with Dali.  Drinks with Dali put me in the inner circle in the department and the company.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities

Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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