Michael Milken graduated cum laude from the University of Berkeley in 1968 before moving on to the Wharton Business School, where he wrote a thesis on the value that could be unearthed from bonds issued by ex-investment grade borrowers.
The New York house of Drexel Harriman Ripley liked his ideas, and at just 24 Milken was head of fixed income research at the firm, later called Drexel Burnham Lambert. He went on to develop the junk bond market, which, many believe, was responsible for funding legions of highly successful entrepreneurial businesses in the US which would not otherwise have existed.
It all came to an abrupt end in 1990 when Milken was jailed for securities fraud.
When President Clinton denied Milken a pardon in 2000, the SEC welcomed the decision, noting the "scope and magnitude of Milken's multiple, wilful federal securities law violations".
It was a harsh postscript for an individual who had made large gifts to charity since his release from prison in 1993.