“There can hardly have been a luckier person in the world,” wrote Stan Druckenmiller in August to the clients of Duquesne Capital Management, announcing that he was closing his hedge fund after 30 years.
His clients might have felt they were the lucky ones. For many, many years the macro fund averaged returns of about 30 percent a year, without a single losing year, and although recent results haven’t been quite as dazzling, Duquesne still managed to gain 11 percent in 2008 when the typical hedge fund was losing almost 20 percent.
Yet as Druckenmiller, 57, told clients, stewarding an “enormous amount of capital” (Duquesne has about $12 billion) and not performing up to expectations — even if the expectations were his own high standards — can exact a “high emotional toll.”
In an August interview with Bloomberg, he suggested that the epiphany came when an old pal invited him to a golf tournament in Scotland and he had to beg off because of work. “Are you crazy?” the friend said. “You’ve been doing this for 30 years. You’re a billionaire. You can’t take a few days off to play golf!”
Now, Druckenmiller will have more time for golf; he and his wife, Fiona, also expect to be devoting their energies and billions to philanthropy, particularly the Harlem Children’s Zone. Druckenmiller plans to manage some money, but just enough to be “fun.” That should ensure employment for “Jerome,” the yellow porcelain pig perched on his desk to remind him of his former employer George Soros’ advice to bet really big when he is sure he’s right — which with Druckenmiller was most of the time.