Log In

Reset Password

Steven Gluckstern (1951-2022): Maverick who founded Centre Re

Steven Gluckstern (File photograph)

An American-born reinsurance mogul in Bermuda was a maverick who left a teaching career for an emerging business field that helped put the island on the map for international business.

Steven Gluckstern and his friend Michael Palm revolutionised the industry after founding Centre Reinsurance in 1988.

The two men came up with “finite risk reinsurance” and turned it into a massively successful product.

Bermudian-based Centre Re was an instant success, with Mr Gluckstern hailed in 1992 by Risk and Insurance as one of the global insurance industry's ten most influential people.

A year later The Economist called Mr Gluckstern “a financial wizard”.

He owned two National Hockey League teams in the 1990s – the Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders – and was a substantial philanthropist for LGBT causes and HIV charities as well as the arts.

He was a founder of the Democracy Alliance supporting the US Democratic Party.

Mr Gluckstern, who later became a hemp entrepreneur, was also chief executive of Rio Grande Neurosciences.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Mr Gluckstern started out as a teacher and school administrator. He befriended Mr Palm at the International School in Tehran.

The pair ended up at Berkshire Hathaway, owned by the tycoon Warren Buffett, where Mr Gluckstern headed the investor’s reinsurance division.

The two struck out on their own after the concept of a “finite reinsurer” failed to gain traction at the company.

Mr Gluckstern described his friend, who died in 1998, as “the thinker” while he was “the doer”.

They raised $100 million in financing for Centre Re from Zurich Insurance, and an additional $150 million from other investors, with Rolf Huippi, president of Zurich, telling Forbes in 1994: “Nobody in the insurance business explained the issues and solutions as clearly as Gluckstern and Palm did.”

By 1990, Centre Re had more than $1.6 billion in total assets, a premium volume of $600 million and net profit of $41 million.

The company was owned by Zurich, and in 1992 Mr Gluckstern told The Royal Gazette: “Our strategy for the future is to maintain a relatively small headquarters and staff, allowing us to focus on what we do best: creating new product structures and analysing financial opportunities for our clients.”

Centre Re’s success made Bermuda the focus for finite reinsurance followed by financial insurance.

Mr Gluckstern became chief executive of Zurich Centre Investments, partner and founder of the private equity firm Capital Z Partners, and served on the board of ChannelPoint Inc, the world's first internet exchange provider for insurance

He was a devoted fan of the annual Burning Man gathering and festival held in Nevada, hosting the event’s largest free food venue.

His son, JD Gluckstern, wrote on Facebook: “Steven was one of a kind.

“He moved through life like a whirlwind, sweeping up everything around him as he went – whether that was friends, businesses, knowledge, or experiences.

“Once you were in his sights, it was hard not to go along for the ride.”

· Steven Mark Gluckstern, a leading figure in Bermuda’s insurance industry, was born on May 1, 1951. He died on May 29, 2022, aged 71.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published June 22, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated June 22, 2022 at 7:49 am)

Steven Gluckstern (1951-2022): Maverick who founded Centre Re

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon