Bruce Wasserstein, greatest banker of his generation, dead at 61

Bruce Wasserstein, CEO of Lazard Ltd. (LAZ), died Wednesday afternoon in New York after being hospitalized Sunday night with an irregular heartbeat. Wasserstein's 30-year career in banking made him one of the wealthiest bankers in the world, with a net worth of $2.3 billion. And his reputation as the greatest of solitary strategists drove business leaders to seek him out to help him do their merger deals.

Wasserstein was born on Christmas Day, 1947, and his mother said he had Messiah potential. He entered the University of Michigan at 16, and then went to Harvard, where he earned a JD cum laude and and MBA with high distinction.