AP Photo/George Frey
- Overstock.com founder and boss Patrick Byrne resigned from the online retailer this month, stating he was "already too controversial to serve as CEO."
- Byrne’s colorful past includes seeking advice from his "Omaha rabbi" Warren Buffett, clashing with Mark Cuban, describing Steve Cohen and Michael Milken as "Sith Lords" and "Al Qaeda," selling more than $30 million worth of Overstock shares to finance cryptocurrency investments, and dating Russian spy Maria Butina.
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Overstock.com founder and boss Patrick Byrne resigned from the online retailer last week, stating he was "already too controversial to serve as CEO."
Byrne’s colorful past includes learning from his "Omaha rabbi" Warren Buffett, clashing with billionaire Mark Cuban, describing financiers Steve Cohen and Michael Milken as "Sith Lords," selling more than $30 million worth of Overstock shares to finance cryptocurrency investments, and dating Russian spy Maria Butina.
More details about Byrne’s wild life are detailed below.
Patrick Byrne’s "rabbi on life" is Warren Buffett.
"I’ve been lucky to have this great rabbi on life out in Omaha, this guy Buffett who I met when I was a kid," Patrick Byrne said during a discussion of Overstock’s crypto ventures in August 2015.
Byrne met Warren Buffett, the so-called Oracle of Omaha, through his father. John "Jack" Byrne served as the chairman and chief executive of Geico from 1976 to 1985.
The elder Byrne saved the insurance giant — one of Buffett’s oldest investments — from going bankrupt, Buffett wrote in his 1980 letter to shareholders. "’Let Jack Do It" works fine as a corporate creed for us," the investing guru wrote in his 1982 letter.
Patrick Byrne has quoted Buffett several times on calls with analysts. He also credited Buffett with persuading him to alert reporters of his involvement in "political espionage" for the US government in the run up to the US presidential election in 2016.
Byrne came forward "upon my Omaha rabbi reminding me of my duty as a citizen," he said in a statement.
Byrne has squabbled with Mark Cuban.
Jin S. Lee
Byrne has squabbled with Mark Cuban, the "Shark Tank" star and owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Byrne told a Bloomberg TV host in 2015 that the billionaire’s friends were trying to get federal authorities to investigate him.
"Some of the officials are monsters," he said. "You’ll probably read a headline that I was stopped with drugs or a dead body."
"Patrick Byrne is a paranoid fool," Cuban responded on his blog. He added that he had shorted 20,000 Overstock shares and "would love to short many, many more shares" because "companies run by people I feel are paranoid fools, tend to go out of business."
If he wanted to sink a company, he wouldn’t go to the authorities, Cuban said. "I would just try to get them to hire Patrick Byrne."
Byrne fired back in an interview with a Business Week reporter in early 2006.
"Mark Cuban is living proof that even the billionaires club has a bell curve: Mark holds one end of it, and Bill Gates has the other," he said. "You guess which is which."
Byrne slammed Steve Cohen and Michael Milken as "Sith Lords" and "Al Qaeda."
Byrne accused a "master criminal from the 1980s" of coordinating an attack on Overstock in 2005. He labeled the individual a "Sith Lord," the title given to Darth Vader and other villains in the Star Wars franchise.
Byrne doubled down in 2006, suggesting "Al Qaeda" was a more accurate description for the people conspiring with the US government and the media to damage his business.
In an interview with the New York Observer in 2010, Byrne revealed the targets of his insults were two well-known financiers. "It’s Steven Cohen and Mike Milken."
Cohen is the billionaire founder of SAC Capital, who now runs Point72, another hedge fund. SAC pleaded guilty to insider trading charges in 2013.
Milken helped to develop the market for high-yield or "junk" bonds. He pleaded guilty to securities and reporting violations in 1990, and spent two years in prison.
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