Jide Zeitlin, the ex-Goldman banker who stepped down as Tapestry CEO under a cloud, says he was 'cheated' by a billionaire who lent him $38 million

Jide Zeitlin

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Jide Zeitlin, an ex-Goldman partner who left the CEO role at fashion company Tapestry under a cloud last summer, has resurfaced, accusing a billionaire who lent him $38 million of making manipulative trades to drive down the price of his collateral.

Thai Lee, the CEO of privately held information technology firm SHI International, sued Zeitlin last year for allegedly failing to pay $1.1 million he still owed on a decade-old debt to her. But last month, Zeitlin sought to have the suit thrown out and accused Lee of driving down the price of PureTech Health, a biopharmaceutical stock whose shares were collateral for Zeitlin’s debt.

“Ms. Lee, directly or through a proxy, cheated me,” he said in a filing. “She manipulated the price of PureTech stock, prior to the transfer of shares to [Lee and a family trust], so that I would receive an artificially low valuation toward reducing the debt, and she would obtain all of the shares and additional payments.”

Lee’s lawyer said Zeitlin’s argument was “pure speculation.” Zeitlin said Lee must have taken advantage of PureTech’s low trading volume to “mark the close” and drive its share price down over several months in 2016 and 2017, when Zeitlin paid Lee with PureTech shares then worth over $8.5 million.

PureTech’s share price had fallen to around $1.40 by March 6, 2017, the day of the transfer, and currently trades at more than triple that price. Zeitlin said his allegation of price manipulation is supported by the fact that Lee has held onto the shares and taken a board seat with a PureTech affiliate, despite once dismissing PureTech as a “lottery stock.”

In an email, Lee called Zeitlin’s stock-manipulation claim “100% untrue.”

“Until March 6, 2017, when the shares …were transferred to me as part of the loan repayment from Jide to myself, I never made any attempts to trade PRTC.L stocks, either directly or indirectly,” she wrote, using the ticker symbol for PureTech.

Zeitlin said in his affidavit that he’s retired from finance and is now investing his own wealth. Zeitlin spent about two decades at Goldman, rising to the elite tier of partner and becoming the global chief operating officer of its investment banking division. ProPublica reported that he made over $100 million when Goldman went public. He left in 2006 and runs an investment firm called the Keffi Group. 

Not mentioned in the case is the impetus for Zeitlin’s retirement from finance: a report in ProPublica about his history of moonlighting as a photographer who shot sexually provocative photos of women, one of whom alleged they had an extramarital affair.

Zeitlin said in a LinkedIn post that he “drew too close” to a woman in the ProPublica story but said the focus on it wasn’t justified. He also resigned from the board of the asset manager Affiliated Managers Group in the wake of the article.

In court papers, Zeitlin said he originally borrowed money from Lee, a fellow alumnus and board member of Amherst College, to invest in Vascular Biogenics, an Israeli life sciences company, though Lee’s lawyer indicated in a court filing that she disputed that that’s what the money was used for.

Zeitlin declined to comment.

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