By Britt Erica Tunick
Photographs by Mike McGregor
Stepping into the Stamford, Conn., office of Plainfield Asset Management, one would never know it was once the disaster recovery site for a $5 billion hedge fund firm. Sailboats drift by the window of Plainfield founder Max Holmes's office, which is adorned with vintage art deco travel posters promoting such European destinations as London and the city where Holmes was born while his parents were college students there—Cologne, Germany. But the vacation mood belies that Plainfield's office has become the headquarters for hard work—and a different kind of disaster recovery these days.
The 50-year-old Holmes, who started Plainfield in 2005 after leaving then-$11.4 billion D.E. Shaw, is fighting for his firm's survival following what he terms a smear campaign from two dodgy companies Plainfield lent money to before the financial crisis hit. After Plainfield foreclosed on these companies' loans, the...