A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 13, 2016
Sphinx of Wall Street

A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a person and the body (usually) of a lion; the famous Egyptian sphinx is known for the “riddle of the sphinx.” A person described as a “sphinx” is secretive and enigmatic.

Several people have been called a “Wall Street Sphinx” or “Sphinx of Wall Street.” American railroad speculator Jay Gould (1836-1893) was called the “sphinx of Wall street” in 1882. American tobacco, insurance and transportation magnate Thomas Fortune Ryan (1851-1928) was called the “Sphinx of Wall Street” in 1905. American financier and banker J. P. Morgan (1837-1913) was called the “Sphinx of Wall Street” in a 1913 obituary.

George Fisher Baker (1840-1931), who co-founded First National Bank of the City of New York (later renamed “Citibank"), was frequently called the “Wall Street Sphinx.” Baker rarely spoke in public. The term “Sphinx of Wall Street” has been only infrequently used after 1950.


Wiktionary: sphinx
Noun
sphinx
‎(plural sphinxes or sphinges)is known for
1. (mythology) A creature with the head of a person and the body of an animal (commonly a lion).
2. A person who keeps his/her thoughts and intentions secret; an enigmatic person.

Wikipedia: George Fisher Baker
George Fisher Baker (March 27, 1840 – May 2, 1931) was a U.S. financier and philanthropist.

Banking career
In 1863, Baker, along with his mentor, John Thompson, and Thompson’s sons Frederick Ferris Thompson and Samuel C. Thompson, co-founded the First National Bank of the City of New York. The first national bank to be chartered in New York City under the National Currency Act of 1863, it became a forerunner of today’s Citibank N.A.

27 March 1882, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, pg. 3, col. 5:
Jay Gould and St. Louis.
New York Letter to Cincinnati Gazette.
(...)
At present, indeed, Gould is the sphinx of Wall street, and he is determined that no one shall penetrate his mysterious secrets.

5 November 1882, Detroit (MI) Free Press, “Jay Gould’s Career,” pg. 18, col. 2:
I have asked questions of perhaps a score of persons, who are likely to know something of the man who has been called the Sphinx of Wall street, and although upon reading over my notes I feel that the story is sadly incomplete.

18 June 1905, New York (NY) Times, magazine, pt. 3, pg. 1, col. 1:
Thomas F. Ryan, the Sphinx of Wall Street
(...)
WILLIAM GRIFFITH.

25 June 1905, Boston (MA) Sunday Globe, pg. 20, col. 1:
THOMAS F. RYAN DOES BIG THINGS AND TALKS LITTLE.
The Sphinx of Wall Street, Who Has Just Absorbed the Equitable, Arose From a Virginia Farm Boy to the Topmost Rung of the Financial Ladder -He Has No Private Vices, and Finds His Recreation at His Palatial Home and With His Fine Horses. Adroit, Suave, Noiseless. Successful in Peacemaking. His Home is a Palace.

OCLC WorldCat record
A born speculator, or, The young sphinx of Wall Street
Author: Dime Novel Collection.
Publisher: New York : Frank Tousey, 1906.
Series: Fame and fortune weekly, no. 25.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : English

1 April 1913, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), “J. P. Morgan, One of World’s Greatest Financiers Dies In Rome,” pg. 5, col. 2:
The sobriquet of “Sphinx of Wall Street” later was applied to the man who at first was believed to have been without business acumen, but in time became the supreme head of the finances of the American continent.

5 December 1924, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 1, col. 4:
Sphinx of Wall Street Fails In First Attempt at Speech
GEORGE F. BAKER, 84, SUFFERS STAGE-FRIGHT

3 May 1931, Washington (DC) Post, pg. M1, col. 1:
GEORGE BAKER, THIRD RICHEST IN U.S., DEAD.
Dean of Financiers Was Stricken Two Days With Pneumonia.
WALL STREET SPHINX MOURNED BY HOOVER.
Mellon Regrets Death of One-Time Director of 43 Companies.

Google News Archive
7 June 1931, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, magazine, pg. 7, col. 1:
Succeeds Father as ‘Wall Street Sphinx’
(...)
The senior (George F.—ed.) Baker was the “sphinx of Wall Street.” In all his life he granted but one interview, and that was devoted to telling why he didn’t give interviews. He made his first public address at the age of 84.

FT Magazine
May 13, 2016 11:02 am
‘Love & Friendship’: What Whit Stillman did next
Danny Leigh
(...)
By the end of the 19th century, the patriarch was Stillman’s great-grandfather James, chairman of the National City Bank, nicknamed “the Sphinx of Wall Street” for insisting two-hour family dinners be eaten in silence.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Friday, May 13, 2016 • Permalink