Dana Giacchetto, Former "Stockbroker to the Stars," Found Dead at 53

Wesley Mann
Dana Giacchetto

The ex-convict Manhattan stockbroker, whose former clients included friends Leonardo DiCaprio and Mike Ovitz, died early Sunday after a bender of hard-partying, according to reports.

Nineties-era investment advisor Dana Giacchetto, a silver-tongued Manhattan social fixture known first for his celebrity clients and then for his headline-garnering fall when he was arrested for misappropriating between $5 million and $10 million of clients' funds (and sentenced to 57 months in prison), was found dead early Sunday, a New York Police Dept. official confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 53.

Giacchetto, notorious both before and after his infamy for partying hard, was discovered by his roommate in his Upper East Side apartment following a bender that, sources told the New York Daily News, included a drunken scuffle with security guards at a Lower East Side club on Friday night.

(He was there at the premiere of the documentary Legends of Freestyle with singer Lisa Lisa, as well as the film's director, longtime friend Steve Stanulis, an ex-cop stripper who once worked as a bouncer at Giacchetto's parties during his high-flying heyday.)

Giacchetto's estranged girlfriend Allegra Brosco, with whom he had two children, became concerned when she couldn't reach him on Saturday evening. His roommate found him face up in bed, foaming at the mouth.

The whiz stockbroker's clients at his Cassandra Group once included close friends Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Ovitz, as well as Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck and Michael Stipe. Before things went bad, he was involved in legitimate deals, including brokering the sale of 49 percent of Seattle record label Sub Pop to Warner Music Group for $20 million. By 1998, Cassandra controlled $100 million in assets out of its vast penthouse loft headquarters in the Singer Building in SoHo, and had created a separate $100 million partnership with Chase Manhattan. A young lawyer named Chris Cuomo, now co-host of CNN's New Day, was head of compliance.

But for all of his success, even at its height, Giacchetto was best known among the city's glitterati as a whirling dervish of hedonism, his loft a haven for top models, rockers, actors, artists, prostitutes, drugs and champagne. (Also for his two cockatoos, Angel and Tiberius.) Guests included clients — some of whom, like DiCaprio, slept over — as well as celebrity friends including Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Mark Wahlberg and John F. Kennedy Jr.

After Giacchetto was released from prison in 2003, he set about rebuilding his life, starting a gourmet foods company and attempting to market a food cleanser invention he called "IncrEdible." (The SEC had banned him from asset management.)

Most of his starry friends (some of whom lost their money due to his misappropriation) abandoned him. Yet the charming player, who always insisted that the financial trouble was nothing more than a complicated mix-up, not a purposeful deception, maintained a canny knack for making new ones, too. He palled around in recent years with bold-faced names like the heiress and couture collector Daphne Guinness.

At his 2001 sentencing hearing, Giacchetto tearfully told the judge, "I lived [in] a world of fantasy." In a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, his first since his 2003 release, he said, "In a lot of ways I still live that way. Only because I live in my dreams."

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