Vincent Viola has been identified as one of several investors with an interest in buying the Nets from Bruce Ratner. Here is a profile of him, drawn from public sources.
Who is Vincent Viola?
Vincent Viola was born in Brooklyn in 1956 where he went to local schools, St. Cecilia’s elementary school in Williamsburg and Brooklyn Tech High School. He received an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1977 as well as from US Army Ranger School. He served as an officer in the 101st Airborne following West Point. Viola and his wife, Teresa, now live in Manhattan after raising three sons in New Jersey.
What is the source of his wealth?
After leaving the Army, where he achieved the rank of major, Viola joined the New York Merchantile Exchange as a "local" trader, becoming a member of the exchange in 1982. That same year, he graduated from New York Law School with a J.D. degree. During his career, Viola served in various positions of leadership at NYMEX, serving as the Chairman of NYMEX from 2001 to 2004. He helped the exchange through the turmoil of the 9-11 attacks and took it public. Viola is a founder and principal of numerous successful proprietary trading and clearing firms and as such is one of the nation’s most successful commodities dealers. He is also a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He is currently the CEO of VirtuFinancial, an electronic commodities trading company and senior strategic advisor to NYMEX.
Is he active in philanthropy?
He is also known for his philanthropy, most recently giving $2 million to Fordham University to establish the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Chair in Catholic Theology. "I thought the Dulles endowed chair was the most virtuous way to express my gratitude to Fordham for educating my two sons," Viola said. After the 9-11 attacks, Viola founded and financed the Counter-Terrorism Center at West Point. Viola has received numerous awards for his philanthropy. In 1997, the Eden School for Autistic children gave him its Man of the Year award. In 1998, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. In 2000, he was honored with the community service award from the Futures and Options for Kids charitable organization. The Jacqueline Hernandez Alzheimer's Day Care Center honored Mr. Viola for his charitable endeavors. Mr. Viola also received the Hamilton-Madison House Heritage Award at the organization's 100th birthday celebration, which paid tribute to the contributions of Italian immigrants. He also co-founded the the National Children's Educational Reform Foundation, which is dedicated to the fundamental reform and improvement of inner-city education with an emphasis on bilingual programs in immigrant communities.
What are his Nets connections?
Viola has been a Nets season ticket holder for 15 years. He has been a major investor in the team since 2004, having joined with Bruce Ratner to buy the team from Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers. Ratner recruited investors from real estate and contracting, Viola from the financial sector. After Ratner, he is the team’s second biggest investor.
He is a member of the Chairman’s Council for the Nets, the group that runs the team and makes all major financial decisions. He has thus been involved in approving major trades and other personnel issues. He attended many of the pre-Draft workouts this spring. In filings with the SEC in 2006, he reported that he spends 20% of his working time on the Nets.
How does he know Ratner?
NYMEX is headquartered in a building within the World Financial Center. Ratner was the developer of the building.
What are his NBA connections?
Viola serves as vice-chairman of the National Italian American Foundation, whose chair is Jerry Colangelo, former owner and chairman of the Phoenix Suns. He was active in the NIAF relief efforts in the aftermath of the Abruzzo earthquakes. (Brandon Jennings gave the fund $50,000.)
Does he support the move to Brooklyn?
Viola, a native Brooklynite, has supported the move to Brooklyn and as an investor in the Nets, he retains a significant financial interest in the Atlantic Yards. He points out that the arena site is nearby St. Cecilia’s elementary school, which he attended in the 1960’s.