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Maria Bartiromo rubs elbows

By Laurie Bennett

September 14, 2010 at 9:52am

From the outset of her new book, The Weekend that Changed Wall Street, Maria Bartiromo promises an insider’s perspective.

This is Bartiromo’s viewpoint not only because she has covered finance for two decades. She is of that world.

Her tale begins in the Upper East Side apartment of the fabulously wealthy Steve Schwarzman, co-founder of Blackstone Group. It’s the apartment where Bartiromo held her engagement party before her marriage to Jonathan Steinberg, son of the fabulously wealthy Saul Steinberg.

Maria Bartiromo
Maria Bartiromo

The Steinbergs sold the apartment in the famous co-op building at 740 Park Ave. to Schwarzman for $30 million - a record at the time for personal real estate in Manhattan.

Often referred to as the “Money Honey,” a phrase she once attempted to trademark, Bartiromo has gained access over the years not only because of her reportorial skills, but because of her good looks and her connections.

This comes through clearly in the book. She’s a shameless namedropper, mentioning events where she mingles with captains of finance as well as Paris Hilton and Tina Brown.

She also draws a personal parallel to Erin Callan, the former CFO of Lehman Brothers who was criticized for flashy media coverage and slinky attire.

“As a woman in the men’s club of finance, I had some sympathy for Callan,” Bartiromo writes. “Women always faced this kind of scrutiny, and it wasn’t entirely fair.”

In 2007, Bartiromo attracted unwanted attention during the ouster of Todd Thomson from Citigroup. Thomson, who headed wealth management at Citi, had come under fire for lavish spending and use of corporate jets, including at least one trip with Bartiromo to an event in Asia.

Gossip swirled, but Thomson and Bartiromo insisted there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship.

Rather than being sidelined by scandal, Bartiromo has flourished as a media star. She anchors CNBC’s Closing Bell and appears frequently on Morning Joe.

Yet while her book records her presence among the elite in September 2008 (her Blackberry buzzes as sources “confide” in her), it adds little to the written history of the meltdown.

The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin told it earlier and better in Too Big to Fail. In fact, on Sept. 15, 2008, in the midst of the crisis, the Times published a video in which Sorkin analyzed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the sale of Merrill Lynch.

It was called “The Weekend That Changed Wall Street.”

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