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Blackstone Co-Founder Peter Peterson Dies At 91

Peter Peterson

Peter Peterson, who founded private equity giant the Blackstone Group with current CEO Stephen Schwarzman, died at home in Manhattan. He was 91.

Peterson began his career at a Chicago research firm called Market Facts. At the age of 34 he became the president of manufacturing company Bell & Howell, and later was named the firm’s chairman and chief executive, the New York Times reports.

He served as President Richard Nixon's commerce secretary in 1972, a position from which he later said he was fired. Immediately afterward, he assumed the chairmanship of Lehman Brothers, according to the Times.

In 1985, he joined with Schwarzman to form the Blackstone Group with $400K and two Rolodexes. The company went public in 2007, and was at time worth $88B. The initial public offering provided Peterson with nearly $2B, before taxes, Bloomberg reports. He retired the following year.

“I always wanted to get into Wall Street and do what I am doing now — invest,” he told the Times in 2007. “I was experienced enough to realize that the real money was made on investments rather than in selling your body by the hour.”

Peterson was a "great partner," Schwarzman told Bloomberg. "We both had no idea when we started Blackstone in 1985 that the firm would grow to this scale and importance. The firm was his pride and joy.”

He is survived by his wife, Joan Ganz Cooney, who is the founder of the Children’s Television Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street.” He is also survived by five children from a previous marriage and nine grandchildren.