The tiny Manhattan law firm Teitler & Teitler—with just 10 partners—is run by Michael and John Teitler, father and son. It once boasted on its Web site that the firm “is most proud of the work it has done keeping its clients out of the courts and out of the public eye.” On his Twitter profile, John Teitler explains to his 78 followers that he is a “lover of family, courts of all kinds (legal, squash, tennis…)” and of “the original Atticus Finch.”
It turns out that one of Teitler & Teitler’s specialties, along with its discretion, is representing current and former Goldman Sachs partners in their divorce proceedings. The firm represented John Waldron, Goldman’s president and C.O.O., in his divorce, which dragged on for six years. It has represented former partners Howard Silverstein, Gary Seevers, John Gilliam, and former managing director Richard Katz in their divorces. It represented Ashok Varadhan, a member of Goldman’s Management Committee, in his divorce. It is currently representing David Leuschen, a former partner, in his divorce. And it also represented Goldman C.E.O. David Solomon in a civil matter in 2004.
But it’s not just the men of Goldman Sachs whom Teitler & Teitler represents. Currently two of the most powerful women on Wall Street—both are Goldman partners—are clients: Stephanie Rader, the head of the distressed-debt-and-bank-loans sales groups, and Jo Natauri, global head of health-care investing, in the firm’s Merchant Banking Division, in her divorce proceeding from her husband, Tiku Natauri. Other senior women at Goldman, such as Kathryn Sweeney, used the Teitler firm in their divorce cases.
While Teitler & Teitler boasts that it likes to stay out of the press, there are times when one or more of the aggrieved parties involved decides to go public, as much out of despair as anything else. For instance, in 2002 the shocking details of the nasty divorce between former Goldman executive Henry Owsley and his wife, Danica Cordell-Reeh, made their way into New York magazine. The article traced the custody battle involving the couple’s four-year-old twins, which included allegations that Cordell-Reeh wasn’t feeding the children properly and, worse, that she was possibly “delusional, paranoid, and schizoidal.” Cordell-Reeh claimed that John Teitler had turned her into the “Ice Queen,” by claiming that Owsley had “serious concerns about his wife’s mental health” and that Cordell-Reeh “routinely” walked around their Central Park West apartment naked and allowed her children to fingerpaint in the nude and use their naked buttocks as paintbrushes. It was also claimed in court that she encouraged her children to lick people on the arms.
“My whole world just crashed,” Cordell-Reeh told the magazine. “It was like being in a snowstorm, where you’re walking into that wind, it’s coming heavy, and you’re just trudging, as hard as you can, but you’re not getting anywhere, and you don’t even know where you’re going.”
Achieving Their Objectives “in a Discreet Fashion”
Teitler & Teitler doesn’t only represent Goldman Sachs executives in their divorces. Annette Roque, Matt Lauer’s ex-wife, was a client. David Mugrabi, the billionaire art collector, employed them in his split from his wife, Libbie, a divorce that the New York Post called “the nastiest” in New York City. The firm has also represented Ken Griffin’s wife, Anne Dias; Harry Macklowe’s wife, Linda; and Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, the wife of David Einhorn, the founder of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital. It has also represented Dinakar Singh, a former Goldman partner and the C.E.O. of Axon Capital, on his recently completed divorce.
But Goldman always seems to come first. And the long-running divorce battle that Jo Natauri, a 44-year-old Goldman partner who specializes in investing in private-equity deals in the health-care industry, has been waging against her husband, Tiku Natauri, is but the latest Goldman spouse to come up against Teitler & Teitler.
In the Natauri divorce, Teitler & Teitler represents Jo, whom Goldman paid more than $10 million in 2017. Tiku no longer has legal representation in the divorce proceeding and represents himself, even though he has no legal training. Since the proceedings began, in 2018, he’s had six different attorneys. (He hired one to file a recusal motion.) He says other lawyers won’t represent him because the Teitlers are representing his ex-wife. “These cases are groaners,” one prospective lawyer told him, “because my office groans every time there’s a call or e-mail from them—it’s not worth my peace of mind.”
Currently two of the most powerful women on Wall Street—both are Goldman partners—are clients.
Tiku Natauri has already lost legal custody of his three children, who this summer attended Camp Robin Hood, in Freedom, New Hampshire, which is owned by David Solomon, the Goldman C.E.O.
“I have gone from a present parent to a parent on the sidelines,” he says. And he may yet lose his portion of the marital estate that he estimated at around $30 million. He currently works as the chief investment officer for the family office of a close friend but owes the friend nearly $1 million he borrowed to pay his former attorneys.
“Jo and I Were Poor Entering This Marriage”
Tiku Natauri, 45, and Jo Gadiyaram first met in the spring of 1995. Her best friend lived in Tiku’s freshman dorm at Duke. Jo was at the University of Virginia. They both grew up in the South: Tiku in Atlanta, Jo in Virginia. They started dating during the summer after sophomore year. At Duke, he majored in economics and minored in chemistry. At U.V.A., she was pursuing a double major in biology and economics.
After college, the couple headed to Wall Street. He was a financial analyst in Credit Suisse First Boston’s M&A technology group, first in New York City and then in Palo Alto. She went to Alex Brown as a financial analyst, and then, with Tiku’s help, got a job as a financial analyst at Credit Suisse in California. In December 2002, Jo moved to Boston to become a vice president at SG Cowen, a small health-care-and-technology investment bank. Tiku stayed in San Francisco until 2004, first working at a tech company and then at a small investment firm, before moving to Boston, too, to work at a hedge fund.
In August 2004, Jo jumped ship to a health-care client, Cytyc (now Hologic, after a 2007 merger), working in corporate development. By then she had developed a reputation as a hard-charging investment banker. One day into her new job at Cytyc, she told Tiku she was bored.
“You’re putting a Ferrari on local roads,” Tiku told her. She wanted to tell the company’s C.E.O. they were under-utilizing her. Tiku told her to relax, since she had just started. “People go home at five,” she told him. “People aren’t responsive. I’m just sitting here in my office doing nothing. This is so slow.”
A few months later, a former colleague asked her if she would be interested in returning to investment banking at Deutsche Bank, as a vice president. She leapt at the chance, even though it meant leaving Boston for New York City. Within a year at Deutsche Bank, Jo was recruited away by Goldman to work in its health-care-investment-banking group as a vice president.
With Jo in New York City, Tiku moved to San Francisco, again to work in another small hedge fund. He stayed for two years and then moved back to New York City to work for Castlerock Management, a third hedge fund. After a year, he moved to S.A.C. Capital, the hedge fund founded by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen. In November 2007, Tiku and Jo married.
“Jo and I were poor entering this marriage,” Tiku says. “We are both the same. Our parents are immigrant families from India. We both had nothing in this country.” That would change soon enough.
In 2008, Goldman promoted Jo Natauri to managing director. According to Tiku, she thought she should have been promoted to partner in 2010, but that didn’t happen. Two years later, though, she was named a Goldman partner in investment-banking coverage, one of the most coveted senior positions on Wall Street.
Like the Teitler case involving Goldman executive Henry Owsley and his wife, Tiku Natauri is so despairing that he chose to share the details of his divorce with me.
While Teitler & Teitler boasts that it likes to stay out of the press, there are times when one or more of the aggrieved parties involved decides to go public.
Tiku describes his ex-wife as a “commercial killer,” who made so much money for Goldman that she got paid more than her boss. He says she was “very presentable,” “very sweet and soft-spoken,” and not “brash,” “abrasive,” or “confrontational.” He says clients loved Jo. “She just has to win deals,” he continues, “and that’s what she does phenomenally well.”
But she could also be ruthless, with a keen desire to win at all costs. When Tiku would attend various Goldman functions, bankers at the firm would come up to him. What’s it like being married to Jo?, they wondered. He says that question shocked him. “At home she was quiet,” he says. “Except for the arguments, she was quiet and nice and sweet.... At work, they’re like, ‘She’s a fucking killer. She’ll rip your throat out if she doesn’t get her way.’ That surprised me.”
In 2015, Goldman got her an executive coach. She may have been a partner, making millions of dollars a year, but the coach informed her there were things she should improve on if she wanted to be considered for Goldman’s management track, to which Tiku says she aspired. According to the coach, Jo needed to “avoid misleading communications,” “avoid misleading by omission,” and “overcome the perception you frequently hide the ball.”
He wrote to her that she needed to “work to change your image of being a lone commercial wolf/lone ranger in the firm.” He added, “Become a leader, a collaborative partner, a team builder, and not just a big producer.”
“We Just Decided Our Marriage Should End”
While Jo’s Wall Street career seemed to be soaring, Tiku’s was sputtering. His brief stint at S.A.C. Capital ended when the firm let him go after the 2008 financial crisis. He had trouble finding another hedge-fund job because two of the firms he worked at—S.A.C. and Loch Capital, in Boston—were charged with insider trading. He started working from home, investing the couple’s money and taking care of their three young children, now aged 11, 9, and 7. “She made enough,” he says, “and I knew how to do that.” He is one of three co-chairs of the parent-teacher association at the children’s Manhattan private school.
As a step to try to save the marriage, the couple moved out of New York City for the summer of 2018 to a rental home in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Tiku could stay with the children while Jo commuted from Goldman for long weekends. They thought they’d save money and that the kids would have a better quality of life.
By July it was clear the reclamation effort had failed. “We just decided our marriage should end” is the way Tiku puts it. “We’ve had years of strife and conflict even pre-marriage.”
After they agreed to divorce, however, Tiku started noticing that Jo was acting a bit strangely. He’d drop the kids off at a day camp and then get an e-mail from her saying, “Please do not restrict access to the children.” He’s thinking, What the fuck are you talking about?
Everything changed on August 20. That’s when, on Jo’s behalf, John Teitler filed an emergency restraining order intended to immediately return their three children to her, in Tribeca, and to prevent Tiku from visiting or communicating with her, except by e-mail or text, and only if it pertained to their children.
As might be expected in what has become an extremely contentious divorce proceeding, Jo’s allegations against Tiku were extensive and, if true, disturbing. (Tiku tells me, on the record, they are not true. Jo declined to respond to my questions.) Jo alleged that Tiku was going to take their children to Colorado without her; that he was verbally and physically abusive to her; and that raising the children fell largely to her and that he tried to restrict access to them.
Tiku “has stopped at nothing to control me and manipulate me during our marriage,” she wrote in her affidavit. “I have until now acquiesced and silently allowed him to continue his abusive conduct to appease him as any opposition usually results in more abusive behavior from him.”
In her affidavit, she recounted what Tiku described as a “domestic violence incident” that he says “100 percent never happened.” According to Jo, she flew to Charlotte from New York on Thursday, August 9, 2018, hoping to see their three children before they went to bed. There were four bunk beds in their bedroom, and she wrote that she had been sleeping in one of them on her visits, in order to be able to “cuddle” with her kids when they woke up in the morning.
She arrived at 7:30 that night, and the children were already asleep. She wrote that, upon her arrival, Tiku started to “badger” her to not see the children for half the weekend. She said that since she doesn’t get to see the kids during the week, she didn’t want any restrictions on seeing them on the weekend.
When she went to the stairs to go up to her separate room, he followed her, and when she went into the bedroom, Tiku, she said, “terrified me” by trying to force his way in to continue the “discussion.” She wrote that eventually she locked herself in the bathroom.
“I was sobbing and terrified to leave,” she continued.
“I Love You with All My ‘Forgetful’ Heart”
In his affidavit, Tiku presented a very different picture. He included copies of years of Father’s Day and anniversary cards that Jo had given him. In 2016, Tiku’s sixth year as a father, Jo wrote, “I don’t think the kids could have asked for a more caring, loving, funny father. You enrich their lives so much and your love for them comes out in everything you do.”
On Valentine’s Day 2018, five months before they agreed to split and after months of weekly therapy, Jo wrote Tiku, “I am so glad we are persevering … thank you for your faith in us and your support Through a tough (!) year. I love you with all my ‘forgetful’ heart.”
Tiku’s affidavit appeared to refute many of Jo’s accusations.
Jo’s allegations against him? The idea that he was taking the children to Colorado without her knowledge or approval? In his affidavit, he included copies of five United Airlines tickets between Newark and Denver that he had purchased in April 2018 and copies of five tickets he had purchased for the family to return from Charlotte to New York City, on August 22, two days before the planned family trip to Colorado. “Jo had no reason to suspect, let alone believe, that I might decline to return to New York City, or abscond with the Children,” he wrote in his affidavit.
After they agreed to divorce, Tiku started noticing that Jo was acting a bit strangely. He’d drop the kids off at a day camp and then get an e-mail from her saying, “Please do not restrict access to the children.”
Tiku also appeared to refute the August 9 “domestic violence incident.” Without Jo’s knowledge, Tiku explained, he had set up in the Charlotte rental a series of recording devices. (There was also one in their car.) He decided it would be “prudent” to set up the recording devices due to his “concern arising out of ominous statements made by Jo and changes in Jo’s behavior starting in July 2018.”
Tiku provided the court with a recording and transcript of the August 9 altercation, which, he claimed, “collectively show the falseness of Jo’s statements.” He wrote that he didn’t prevent her from closing the bedroom door. There was “no feeling of terror, only irritation and anger,” he continued.
Jo claimed she had been “sobbing,” but the tape revealed “no ‘sobbing,’” Tiku wrote. “There was no whining,” he continued. “There was no whimpering. There was Jo, speaking forcefully and with no fear.” He spent much of the rest of the affidavit attempting to show that her claims against him were untrue. “I continue to be puzzled, perplexed and disheartened by the aggressive, pre-emptive attack which Jo has made against me, based upon a mountain of false statements,” he claimed.
At this point, Tiku still had representation—Blank Rome—and an expectation that he had a fighting chance of being treated fairly in the upcoming trials about custody of the children and the division of the family’s $30 million, or so, estate. At an emergency hearing on August 22, his attorneys told the judge about the recording and transcript that appeared to refute Jo’s claim of domestic violence.
“She was going for what they call the ‘nuclear option’: sole custody, a restraining order against her husband,” Tiku says. “That I would be kicked out of the marital home, and would require supervised access and visitation with the children.”
The judge did grant Jo’s emergency request to have the three children returned to New York from Charlotte, and that they could only leave New York with the judge’s approval, effectively scotching the Colorado trip. Tiku was also “enjoined” from “assaulting, harassing, intimidating or threatening” Jo. But he retained access to the kids half the time, and the couple continued to share the family apartment in Tribeca.
In September 2018, Tiku’s new attorney, William Beslow, initiated a settlement offer regarding joint custody of the children, shared and equal residential custody, and a dispute-resolution mechanism. But Jo rejected Tiku’s proposal. Once the divorce papers were filed, the marital assets were frozen. Tiku had to find a job, which he did—working for the private office of his wealthy Duke friend—at a salary of $150,000 a year. But there was little debate about who remained the breadwinner in the Natauri family: it was Jo.
Tiku’s fortunes in the battle began to take a turn for the worse when the dispute hit the courtroom of New York State Supreme Court judge Lori Sattler, who specializes in matrimonial and tax disputes. Judge Sattler is well known to the Teitlers. The firm was one of the largest donors to Sattler’s 2017 election campaign for a 14-year term, donating $3,000. One of Sattler’s law clerks—Alexandra White—is the sister of Teitler attorney Elizabeth White Bass. Tiku’s attorney at the time pointed out the “obvious conflict of interest,” but the Teitlers denied any such conflict and accused Tiku of a “second attempt … to forum shop in this case.”
Three years on, the Natauri’s divorce still has not been resolved. Tiku lost the custody battle and now can see his children only on Wednesdays and every other weekend. He left the “marital home” in Tribeca and now lives in a rental apartment on Central Park South, where he is behind on the rent to the tune of $40,000. (Jo moved closer to Goldman Sachs on West Street in Lower Manhattan.) During Tiku’s testimony in the custody trial, Judge Sattler regularly sustained the Teitler motions objecting to what Tiku was saying. Jo had seven days to put on her case; the judge gave him two and a half.
He’s now in purgatory between the custody trial and the trial about divvying up the marital estate, in which he is representing himself. On September 9, Jo called 911, and police officers from the Midtown North Precinct in Manhattan were dispatched to Tiku’s rental apartment to check on the children, who were with Tiku, because she suspected something was “going on with the children,” according to Tiku. He says the police saw that he was “cooking pasta and making pizza” for them and then apologized for disturbing him. After the police left, one of the children asked Tiku, “Why is Mom trying to have you arrested?”
The divorce trial—and resolution—is still years away. “This is a messy one,” Tiku says. “I’ve talked to the best matrimonial lawyers in the city.... No one wants to touch it.” He wonders if it’s because of the Teitlers, whom he figures Jo has paid some $3 million for their advice.
“Remember, I’ve known Jo since she was a freshman in college,” he says. “For as successful as she is, her street smarts and her ability to be this conniving, it’s not her.”
He’s now $1.4 million in the hole, including $300,000 in credit-card debt, while Tiku says Jo received $3.5 million, after taxes, in January from Goldman, which he believes should have been part of the marital estate. If the judge had allowed him access to half of that money, he’d be fine, he says, but she didn’t.
When he brought up that fact with the judge that Jo has far outspent him on legal fees, making for an unfair playing field, Sattler was having none of it. “Mr. Natauri, I say it every single time, get a lawyer,” the judge told him during a recent September hearing. “But for some reason you don’t seem to be able to. With $200,000, you can’t get a lawyer. A lot of people would be thrilled to have that amount.” Tiku was taken aback. “$200,000 is a pittance compared to the three million the Teitlers have had,” he replied, clearly irritating her.
He tried to have Sattler removed from his case because of the relationship between the two sisters. But since, in New York State, she could decide that motion on her own, she decided not to recuse herself.
Tiku suspects his ex-wife is just following the Teitler playbook.
“You execute on it,” he believes they told her, “and we’ll get you exactly what you want.” Which is what, I ask? “All she cares about is winning,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how much she has to pay to win. She just wants to win.” It reminds me of the old Wall Street adage: “It’s not enough for you to succeed; others have to fail.”
Tiku despairs. “The result is Jo and the Teitler firm have become the 800-pound gorilla in controlling, intimidating, and harassing me into submission,” he explains. “This is an unescapable and unbearable vicious cycle. It is constant, unforgiving, and unrelenting.”
“We do not usually comment on current or past matters and will not do so here other than to say that any assertions of improper conduct or undisclosed conflict made by you and/or Mr. Natauri regarding the Natauri matter (or any other matter) are incorrect,” John Teitler responded when asked for comment. “These are private matters and it is unfortunate if Mr. Natauri or others seek to treat them otherwise.”
For its part, Goldman Sachs, when asked for comment, said, “We are deeply disappointed that Air Mail sees such material fit for publication for a story so lacking in public interest and regarding a private person.” “Jo Natauri has been a partner of Goldman Sachs for 10 years and is an exceptional professional. We regret she and her family were not afforded the respect or the privacy we each deserve.”
Throughout our conversations, Tiku seemed calm, in the face of what surely has become a Kafka-esque nightmare for him. He’s lost easy access to his children. He’s increasingly financially destitute. Jo has painted him as someone who has “abused her for twenty years,” so he worries that his reputation is in tatters. As his existential legal battle continues to rage, he is without legal representation. “How am I calm?” he asks. “I’m numb … In the environment we’re in today, you know, my name is not Joe Smith. Tiku Natauri, you google it and you’re going to find me. I’m not going to just go quietly and not address an allegation that’s now being made publicly, no fucking way. Because my kids will start to believe that. She’s already alienating the school and the doctors against me. So I don’t know if I’m calm. I’m defeated, but I’m set on my path, and I just have to let it play itself out at this point. I don’t know if that makes sense.”
He fears that Judge Sattler will sanction him for speaking out publicly. And, in fact, as this story was going to press, the Teitlers filed an emergency motion with the court seeking to prevent Tiku from continuing to share information with the press about Jo and her career at Goldman Sachs. The Teitlers also sent Tiku a letter telling him not to disclose what they describe as “Goldman Sachs Confidential Information.”
Sounds like he’s on a kamikaze mission, I say. Tiku agrees. But, he says, he has no choice but to proceed. “I’ve already lost two wings and a rudder,” he laments. On Friday, Tiku caught a bit of a break when the judge declined to sign Teitler’s gag order as proposed, siding partially with Tiku—at least for now.
William D. Cohan is a Writer at Large for Air Mail and the best-selling author of three books about Wall Street, including Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World