"One day in August, 2016, the financier Carl Icahn made an urgent phone call to the Environmental Protection Agency. Icahn is one of the richest men on Wall Street, and he has thrived, in no small measure, because of a capacity to intimidate. A Texas-based oil refiner in which he had a major stake was losing money because of an obscure environmental rule that Icahn regarded as unduly onerous. Icahn is a voluble critic of any government regulation that constrains his companies. So he wanted to speak with the person in charge of enforcing the policy: a senior official at the E.P.A. named Janet McCabe.
Icahn works from a suite of offices, atop the General Motors Building, in midtown, that are decorated in the oak-and-leather fashion of a tycoon’s lair in a nineteen-eighties film. During that decade, Icahn made his reputation as one of the original corporate raiders, pioneering the art of the hostile takeover and establishing himself as a human juggernaut—a pugnacious deal machine, all avarice and swagger. By the time he called the E.P.A., he was eighty, and long since unburdened of any personal or dynastic need to make money; according to Forbes, he is worth approximately seventeen billion dollars. Plenty of titans who are not as old and not as rich as Icahn have opted to devote their remaining years to spending their money, or to giving it away. Not Icahn. A tall man with a shambling manner, he recently grew a white beard, which softens his round face, giving him the cuddly appearance of an elderly Muppet. But he has not lost his taste for the kill. A few years ago, he sold his mega-yacht, because cruising on it bored him. He has engaged in philanthropy, building charter schools and a stadium on Randall’s Island that bears his name. But the charity circuit is a snooze. What Icahn loves beyond all else is to rise late each morning, and then to spend the rest of the day and much of the night working the phone, making deals. Years ago, a reporter asked Icahn why he kept making money when he already had more than he could ever spend. “It’s a way of keeping score,” he said. He is one of the wealthiest individuals not just in the world but in the history of the world—a man who takes pride in many things, not the least of which is his ability to get just about anybody on the phone."