Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Erin Callan, Lehman's ex-CFO, goes public

February 22, 2011: 2:13 PM ET

Lehman's Erin Callan

by Patricia Sellers

Erin Callan is Wall Street's Greta Garbo.

After Lehman Brothers (BCS) fired her as chief financial officer in June 2008 -- four months before the firm filed Chapter 11 -- Callan fled to her home in the Hamptons. She's been holed up in Long Island's affluent beach enclave for the past two years. Former colleagues and friends say she's incommunicado, and she's refused to speak to the press.

Until today. After a piece called "Inside Erin Callan's Hamptons Hideaway" popped up on CNBC.com, I called Callan on her cell phone. She answered.

"I'm living a different life," she said, after declaring that she did not want to talk.

We chatted for four minutes, mainly about last year's Fortune story, "The fall of a Wall Street highflier," in which I chronicled her controversial rise, her career collapse, and her escape to this "different life" that involves a boyfriend named Anthony Montella, who went to her high school and grew up to be a firefighter.

"On the whole, it was fair," Callan, 45, said about the profile (in which she refused to cooperate). "I'm not ready to talk," she said today. "And I don't know if I ever will be ready to step out into public view."

Anonymity has its appeal when you're a target of multiple investigations into the history's biggest bankruptcy. Callan is named in a lawsuit filed by California Public Employees' Retirement System two weeks ago. The giant pension fund known as CALPERS charges Callan, former Lehman CEO Dick Fuld and other executives and directors with making false statements in the months leading up to the Wall Street giant's failure.

Callan wouldn't comment on the fraud allegations that still swirl around her. As we closed the conversation, I wished her well. "Anthony wishes you well too," she replied.

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