Gordon Gekko

Gordon Gekko
Wall Street character
First appearance Wall Street
Created by Oliver Stone
Stanley Weiser
Portrayed by Michael Douglas[1]
Occupation Corporate raider
Spouse(s) Kate Gekko (ex-wife)
Children Rudy Gekko (son; deceased)
Winnie Gekko-Moore (daughter)
Relatives Jacob Moore (son-in-law)
Louis Moore (grand-son)
Nationality United States

Gordon Gekko is the main antagonist of the 1987 film Wall Street and the antihero of the 2010 film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,[2] both by director Oliver Stone. Gekko, a fictional character, was portrayed by actor Michael Douglas, whose performance in the first film won him an Oscar for Best Actor.[3]

Co-written by Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser, Gekko is claimed to be based loosely on arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, who gave a speech on greed at the University of California, Berkeley in 1986, real-life activist shareholder and corporate raider Carl Icahn and also Stone's own father Louis Stone.[4] According to Edward R. Pressman, producer of the film, "Originally, there was no one individual who Gekko was modeled on," he adds. "But Gekko was partly Milken", who was the "Junk Bond King" of the 1980s, and indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud in 1989.[5]

In 2003, the AFI named him number 24 of the top 50 movie villains of all time.[6]

In 2008, Gordon Gekko was named the fourth richest fictional character by Forbes who attributed him with US$8.5 billion.[7] However, in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gekko said he made $50-$100 million.


Character biography

Gekko grew up on Long Island and went to City College of New York. His birthday is May 6, though his year of birth is unknown. His father was a salesman of electrical supplies who died of a heart attack at 49. He married Kate and had a son, Rudy, and a daughter, Winnie. Rudy committed suicide while in college because of Gordon's illegal activities. His on-again-off-again mistress is Darien Taylor, with whom he maintains a friendship. During the mid-1980s he had a rivalry with fellow corporate raider Sir Lawrence "Larry" Wildman, though the conversation between the two men clearly indicates that Larry is the wealthier of the two. From 1990 to 1998, was in jail for multiple securities violations.

Cultural symbol

Gekko has become a symbol in popular culture for unrestrained greed (with the signature line, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good"), often in fields outside corporate finance.

On September 25, 2008, Michael Douglas, acting as a UN ambassador for peace, was at the 2008 session of the United Nations General Assembly. Reporters sought to ask him off topic questions about Gordon Gekko; "Douglas was asked whether he bore some responsibility for the behavior of the greed merchants who had brought the world to its knees thanks to his (aka Gekko's) encouragement." Trying to return to topic Douglas tried to "suggest that the same level of passion Wall Street investors showed should also apply to getting rid of nuclear weapons."[8]

The actor was also asked to compare nuclear Armageddon with the "financial Armageddon on Wall Street". After one reporter inquired, "Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?" Douglas stated, "I'm not saying that. And my name is not Gordon. It's a character I played 20 years ago."[8][9]

On October 8, 2008, the character was referenced in a speech by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his speech "The Children of Gordon Gekko" concerning the Financial crisis of 2007-2010. Rudd stated “It is perhaps time now to admit that we did not learn the full lessons of the greed-is-good ideology. And today we are still cleaning up the mess of the 21st-century children of Gordon Gekko.”[10]

On July 28, 2009, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone cited Gekko's greed is good slogan in a speech to the Italian senate, saying that the free market had been replaced by a greed market, and also blamed such a mentality for the 2007-2008 financial crisis.[11]

In May 2011, CCP Games released an internal newsletter entitled "Greed is Good?: The Gordon Gekko Issue", promoting a debate amongst its staff about whether introducing microtransactions to its flagship MMORPG, EVE Online is good or not for the video-game, its community and the company itself. The community's response to said newsletter was overwhelmingly negative, considering that said community has expressed on multiple times that, since the video-game is subscription-based, they feel CCP Games would be "double-charging" its subscribers if they adopted microtransactions.

In popular culture

  • In the computer game Fallout 2, an NPC named Gordon resides in the town of Gecko. Upon initial conversation by one's character, Gordon proceeds to recite a "Greed is Good" monologue.[12]
  • In the movie Boiler Room (2000), the characters played by Nicky Katt and Vin Diesel recite by heart lines of Gordon Gekko in front of a crew of their co-workers, while Wall Street is playing on TV.
  • In the PlayStation 3 game Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, there is a PlayStation Network trophy named "Greed is Good". It is attainable if you collect 50,000 bolts (game currency).
  • In the fourth episode of the first season of The Sarah Silverman Program, titled "Not Without My Daughter", Sarah witnesses a young girl, who later becomes her protégé, reciting Gordon Gekko's famous "Greed is Good" speech before a panel of beauty pageant judges.
  • In a 2010 radio advertisement, AFSCME tries to paint United States Senate candidate Pat Toomey as a Wall Street villain. In the commercial, the narrator says that it was Gordon Gekko who introduced the idea that "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." All throughout the commercial, bullet points of Toomey's faults are listed—each one followed by the haunting words, "Greed is Good."

"Greed is Good" quotation

Notwithstanding the popular cultural significance of the character (and the wide repetition of this particular quotation), Gekko never actually uttered the words "Greed is Good" in the original Wall Street film. The full text of the quotation is below:

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.[13]


  1. ^ "Gordon Gekko, Preaching the Gospel of Greed". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19105520. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  2. ^ Burrough, Bryan (February 2010). "The return of Gordon Gekko". Vanity Fair. http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/features/2010/02/wall-street-spotlight-201002. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  3. ^ Osborne, Robert A. (1999). 70 years of the Oscar: the official history of the Academy Awards. Abbeville Press. p. 286. ISBN 9780789204844. 
  4. ^ http://thefilmstage.com/reviews/review-wall-street-money-never-sleeps/
  5. ^ Daily Telegraph "Gekko is Back"
  6. ^ "AFI 100 years...100 heroes and villains". http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/handv100.pdf?docID=246. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  7. ^ Noer, Michael (18 December 2008). "The Forbes Fictional 15". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/18/gordon-gekko-money-oped-fictional1508-cx_mn_1218gekko.html. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  8. ^ a b Phillip Coorey (26 September 2008). "Michael who? It's Gekko we're after". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/michael-who-its-gekko-were-after/2008/09/25/1222217431660.html. 
  9. ^ "Douglas goes nuclear: I'm not Gordon Gekko!". Fairfax Digital. 25 September 2008. http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/people/douglas-goes-nuclear-im-not-gordon-gekko/2008/09/25/1222217386443.html. 
  10. ^ Kevin Rudd (6 October 2008). "Edited extract of the speech: The children of Gordon Gekko". The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24450662-7583,00.html. 
  11. ^ Krause-Jackson, Flavia (July 28, 2009). "Vatican Slams ‘Greed Is Good’ Wall Street Mantra". Bloomberg News. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aQl9pmfRaeAQ. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  12. ^ "Gordon (Gecko) at The Vault, Fallout wiki". http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Gordon_%28Gecko%29. 
  13. ^ "Memorable Quotes for Wall Street (1987)". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094291/quotes. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 

See also

External links

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