Drexel Burnham Lambert, the investment bank famous for high-yield or "junk" bonds, filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 13, 1990 after several years of legal troubles.
Drexel's bond department head Michael Milken would pay huge fines and serve nearly two years in prison for securities fraud. But many would come to see Milken and Drexel as more benign figures.
The high-yield bond market they pioneered increased dramatically in size, and well known entrepreneurs like casino magnate Steve Wynn, telecom boss William McGowan and media mogul Ted Turner were boosted early on Drexel-assisted financing. Milken also became a prominent philanthropist and supporter of public health and medical research.
Twenty-five years later, the "Drexel diaspora" are now in some of Wall Street's most powerful posts, from Leon Black at Apollo Global Management to Richard Handler of Jefferies.
Read MoreWhere are they now? The Drexel alumni 25 years later