Adam Max, Private Equity Partner Who Led BAM, Dies at 62
(Bloomberg) -- Adam Max, a partner at private equity firm Jordan Co. and chairman of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has died. He was 62.
He died Monday night surrounded by family, according to an email from his wife Diane Max. The cause was bile duct cancer.
Max spent almost 35 years at New York-based Jordan, where he led investments in firms including motorcycle-parts manufacturer Custom Chrome Inc. and RockShox Inc., which makes shock absorbers for mountain bikes. Jordan Co. had $10.6 billion of assets under management at the end of 2019.
“He was a brilliant guy with a great personality and that was very attractive to the owners of the companies we bought,” founder Jay Jordan said in an interview.
During Max’s tenure at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the performing arts venue replaced artistic and business heads who had been involved with the organization for decades. He served as coach and mentor to Katy Clark, who became president in 2015.
“He loved, loved, loved solving problems, and he loved doing it even more over meals,” said Clark, noting their longstanding bi-weekly breakfast at Maialino, a Manhattan restaurant. “He’d come having run around Central Park five times, and he’d order everything off the menu and chastize me for not eating five ricotta pancakes.”
Clark said their conversations spanned “baseball, kids, whatever shows we’d just seen.”
When Covid-19 arrived, “He was a great partner in figuring out maybe one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced as an institution,” she said. “We’ve gone through heartbreaking downsizing and he was always mindful of trying to do it compassionately.”
In May, BAM held its fundraiser virtually, with a Zoom dance party. Max and his wife danced in their kitchen, he in his “Gratitude” T-shirt, printed with the words “Please and Thank You.”
“It was one of the most community-affirming, charming and kind of reassuring parts of the gala, and frankly of my day,” Max said in an interview soon after the event. He recalled a staffer’s child brushing her teeth to the music, because it was her bedtime. “We’ve used this language for years around BAM, that we’re a family, and honestly I think that’s the DNA that you could feel.”
Adam Edward Max was born July 18, 1958, in New York, one of three children of Herbert and Dorothy Max.
He attended Collegiate School and received a bachelor’s degree with honors in literature & society from Brown University in 1981.
Max was in a theater mime troupe in Portland, Oregon, before going into finance. He worked with his father, a lawyer who wrote a book on private equity investing, before joining Jordan in 1986.
Jordan said he first met Max in the offices of investor Carl Marks in the 1970s, when Max’s father and Jordan both worked there. “I taught him how to properly staple documents,” Jordan said.
By the 1990s, Max was creatively structuring acquisitions, including a deal for Fannie Mae Candy. Rich Caputo, now chief executive partner at Jordan, assisted on the transaction, which he said suited Max’s sweet tooth and business acumen.
“The seller wasn’t interested in selling at the value we felt the business was worth,” Caputo said. “Adam was able to design an extra consideration that would work out well for the sellers if the business performed well, and if it didn’t, it wasn’t going to dilute that.”
Max started going to BAM regularly when he and his wife, Diane, received a subscription as a wedding gift in 1985. He joined the board in 2003, and over the years brought in tens of millions of dollars as a fundraiser and donor.
Tim Ingrassia, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner who served as chair of the BAM Endowment Trust, recalled a dinner at Marea with Max and their wives.
“I think I’m being very clever, getting up and grabbing the waiter and handing him a credit card,” Ingrassia said. “It turned out Adam had pre-paid for everything. He never gets a bill, just to avoid having anyone being able to pay for their fair share of dinner.”
Max was a trustee of St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, Bank Street College of Education, Collegiate School and the Telluride Foundation, as well as president of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. He and his wife established a conference on women’s history at the New-York Historical Society.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by children Hannah, Jonah and Ezra; and brothers D.T. Max, a staff writer at the New Yorker, and Eric Max, a lawyer.
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