Once a wunderkind, who at 25 established his own hedge fund, ESL, Eddie Lampert is 55 now and celebrating the silver anniversary of managing his own money and that of a few select billionaires, such as entertainment mogul David Geffen, Michael Dell, Thomas Tisch, and the Ziff publishing family. He has had legendary successes, such as his investment in AutoZone, AutoNation, Honeywell, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Liz Claiborne Inc.
But today those triumphs are largely obscured by his worst mistake: the 2005 merging of Sears, the iconic retailer whose doorstop mail-order catalogue was once a fixture in nearly every American home, with the downmarket Kmart chain, which he had brought out of bankruptcy in 2003.. . . more