For decades, and until very recently, Greenberg was a regular participant in the long-running Saturday afternoon magic sessions which have been held over the years in various midtown restaurants. He also was a member of the Parent Assembly of the Society of American Magicians and he periodically organized his own magic get-togethers at his Fifth Avenue apartment, which were attended by a select group comprising such magicians as Bill Kalush, David Blaine, Steve Cohen, Eric DeCamps, David Roth, and others.
Although his success in business afforded him access to the ranks of upper echelon society, Greenberg often spent his spare time with the cops, teachers, doctors, lawyers, teenagers, and others who comprised local magic circles. “I’ve never liked a hobby where the guy with the most money wins," Greenberg was quoted as saying in a 2006 Forbes magazine article about his interest in magic. "And magic, believe me, is a very inexpensive hobby.”
"I'm really sorry to hear this news," said Steve Cohen in an entry he posted online at the Genii Forum. "Ace was very supportive of me, coming to one of my very first public shows in New York. He helped introduce me to many of his pals who later became clients." Cohen first joined New York magic circles as a teenager and now stars each weekend in Chamber Magic, which he performs at the Waldorf Astoria.
Greenberg became intrigued by magic at age nine after seeing Harry Blackstone, Sr. perform in Oklahoma City, Greenberg's hometown. After moving to New York in 1949, Greenberg became part of the local scene. He studied magic with Slydini, developed original effects which were published in the magic magazine Apocalypse, and, with Richard Kaufman, formed Kaufman and Greenberg, which published a series of influential magic books.
In his professional life Greenberg was instrumental in guiding the growth of Bear Stearns, the Wall Street investment company where he eventually served as Chief Executive and Chairman. In 2008 the company was absorbed by JPMorgan Chase after Bear Stearns lost a large percentage of its value in the tumultuous financial decline related to the subprime mortgage crisis.
In addition to his success on Wall Street, Greenberg supported numerous nonprofit organizations. He was a board member of The New York Public Library and the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation and supported the United Jewish Appeal. As nearly every article about him seemed to mention, he also donated $1 million to the Hospital for Special Surgery to provide Viagra to men who otherwise couldn't afford it. Greenberg regularly brought together groups of magicians to entertain at-risk children and teenagers who were participating in programs at Phoenix House, Covenant House and Daytop Village.
"In my view Alan is an example of what we should all strive to be," said Gerald Deutsch, a longtime friend of Greenberg's who met him as a fellow member of the local magic community. "I’m a very ardent admirer of Alan’s not so much because of his interest in magic nor even because of his accomplishments on Wall Street, but primarily because of his generosity as expressed by his support with so many charitable causes.
According to The New York Times, Greenberg is survived by his wife, Kathryn; his children Ted Greenberg and Lynne Koeppel; a sister, DiAnne Hirsch; a brother, Maynard; and five grandchildren.
Greenberg's funeral will be held Tuesday, July 29 at 11:00 a.m. at Temple Emanuel, 1 East 65th Street.