Who was Charles de Vaulx? Tragic story of millionaire investor who jumped from 10th floor of posh NY building
'Charles was a complex man with a lot of hubris who felt he failed in his mission,' a source close to the deceased investor revealed
The tragic death of prominent investor Charles de Vaulx has reportedly left Wall Street in a shock. The 59-year-old asset manager apparently died by suicide on Monday, April 26, 2021, after jumping off from the 10th floor of a Midtown Manhattan tower. His death has been dubbed as a 'Shakespearean tragedy' by an insider source, who revealed to New York Post that many of the stocks he owned had grown significantly in the past few months. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Around 1 pm on Monday, de Vaulx entered the Midtown tower at 717 Fifth Avenue where his office International Value Advisers (IVA) is housed. According to a building employee, he jumped from the 10th floor shortly after. He was pronounced dead at 1:05 pm by first responders to the scene. Though the cause behind his suicide is still under investigation, New York Police have stated that no foul play is suspected.
Seven weeks prior to de Vaulx's suicide, his firm IVA had abruptly announced the liquidation of its funds and halting of business, according to Reuters. By April 19, 2021, the liquidation was announced to be completed.
By end of 2020, the total net assets of the firm were estimated at $863 million, plummeting from a staggering $20 billion at its peak.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our chairman and CIO, Charles de Vaulx. The entire IVA community conveys their deepest sympathy to his family at this difficult time," the firm mourned the death of de Vaulx in a statement issued lately.
Who was Charles de Vaulx?
Charles de Vaulx was best recognized as the Chief Investment Officer, co-portfolio manager, and partner at International Value Advisers which he founded in 2007.
Born in Morocco, Charles de Vaulx pursued a Masters degree in Finance from Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Rouen in France. He joined SocGen Funds in 1987, working as an analyst under legendary French investor Jean-Marie Eveillard. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to associate portfolio manager in 1996.
After SocGen was renamed First Eagle Funds in 1999 following the transfer of ownership, de Vaulx was made co-portfolio manager in 2000 who handled four funds and several international accounts.
Known for his preference of undervalued and unloved stocks, de Vaulx was honored as Morningstar’s International Stock Manager of the Year in 2001 along with his mentor Jean-Marie Eveillard. After Eveillard's retirement in 2004, de Vaulx became his designated successor as the lead portfolio manager.
However, to everyone's surprise, he left First Eagle in 2006 together with a group of partners, after a dispute with investors. When IVA was founded in 2007, it quickly gained prominence as one of the fastest-growing funds in the USA. It became a firm of just 40 employees that was followed intently on Wall Street
However, de Vaulx's ideas regularly clashed with his longtime business partner Chuck de Lardemelle. He was also unwilling to cede any control to Lardemelle. Eventually, the latter announced his departure in July 2020, which rattled investors and raised an alarm for the firm's future. The rest of the year was turbulent for IVA, and thereby de Vaulx, as the fund dwindled to around $3 billion from $20 billion. Losing the trust of the investors served as a hard blow to de Vaulx who aspired to be a legend in his own right.
“IVA was an embodiment of de Vaulx’s personality and when it began to unwind, he took it personally," a source close to de Vaulx old New York Post.
“Charles was a complex man with a lot of hubris who felt he failed in his mission of value investing and lost his raison d’etre,” another source added.