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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Martin Zweig Dies; Called 1987 Black Monday Crash

Wall Street legend Martin Zweig, famous for predicting a market crash just before Black Monday in 1987, has died, his New York firm said.

Born in 1942, Zweig died Monday of an undisclosed cause.

Noted as much for his opulent lifestyle as well as his stock market prognostications, Zweig leaves a legacy marked by many years of success that extended well beyond the crash call.

"He was a true market seer," said Doug Kass, head of Seabreeze Partners. "I will never ever forget Marty's prescient market comments which emanated from Owing Mills on Oct. 16, 1987."

That was a Friday, the weekend before Black Monday, the worst crash in market history. The Dow lost 508 points, or 22.6 percent of its value, worse even than the crash of 1929 that kicked off the Great Depression or any of the big down days through the financial crisis that started in 2008.

Though the market actually finished in the black for the year, Zweig correctly foresaw the turbulence ahead.

"I haven't been looking for a bear market per se. I've been really in my own mind looking for a crash," he said on the "Wall Street Week" program on PBS. "But I didn't want to talk about it publicly because it's like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater."

Zweig actually thought the crash wouldn't be as bad as the 1929 disaster and said wouldn't be long-lasting.

(Click here for the video of Zweig's Black Monday call.)

Following the call, he parlayed his fame into riches that included what is believed to be the most expensive apartment in Manhattan. He paid $70 million for a triplex on Fifth Avenue.

His market profile became substantially lowered over the years, though.

"In an intense and competitive business, I do not ever recall a nasty comment on Marty," said Art Cashin, the UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange. "In decades on Wall Street that's a very rare comment on a very high profile personality. May he rest in peace."

Among other things, Zweig is known for developing the put-call ratio that measures options calls, a tool used as a market indicator across the investing community.

In addition, he published the Zweig Forecast from 1971-97 and it was ranked No. 1 for risk-adjusted returns for 15 consecutive years.

"He was a wonderful, kind and generous person and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have been his friend and partner," said Joe DiMenna, principal in Zweig-DiMenna Partners, which was the first of several hedge funds the two operated.