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Out of the Clear Blue Sky
"Out of the Clear Blue Sky" tells the riveting, behind-the-scenes story of Cantor Fitzgerald. It’s a story of disaster without precedent. What do you do when everything – and almost everyone – is gone?
On September 10, 2001, financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald was headquartered on the top 5 floors of the World Trade Center. With offices soaring 100 stories above downtown Manhattan, the Wall Street powerhouse was unknown to the public until tragedy struck. On September 11, 2001, 658 of their employees were missing – presumed dead – in the nation’s worst terrorist attacks. Overnight, Cantor became world famous for the worst of all possible reasons.
One of the few who survived was their notorious CEO Howard Lutnick, who had been taking his son to his first day of kindergarten when the planes hit. On September 13th, Lutnick’s emotionally raw, tear-filled interviews transfixed the nation. His distraught television appearances struck a deep personal chord with millions of traumatized Americans reeling and shell-shocked by the unprecedented attacks.
But, within a week, in a move that was to become very controversial, Lutnick stopped the paychecks of his missing employees. It was an act that has been praised by some – as a necessary decision to save the company to help the widows of his fallen friends — but severely lambasted by more — as a self-serving, heartless betrayal by a man well known for his ruthlessness. Lutnick’s prior reputation as cut-throat – even by Wall Street standards – preceded him.
The media turned on him and Lutnick went from sympathetic face-of-the-tragedy to vilified pariah over night. Then he completely withdrew from the public eye. Though Cantor suffered almost twice the casualties of the FDNY, their story soon disappeared.