Carl Icahn doesn’t care what people think.

He doesn’t care, he says, that some hotshot is trash-talking him.

He doesn’t care that he, the legendary Carl Icahn, billionaire Lone Wolf of Wall Street, just got Carl Icahn-ed. That someone is doing to him what he’s done to so many for so long: publicly accusing him of mismanaging his company and failing stockholders.

Icahn, one of the real-life models for greed-is-good Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, is on the line this Sunday afternoon from his waterfront mansion near Miami.

“It’s a tough game—a very tough game,” Icahn says. And a game that Icahn, at age 87, still seems to relish.

Icahn will concede one point: He didn’t see this coming.

Short-seller Hindenburg Research, the outfit run by 38-year-old Nate Anderson, has trained its sights on publicly traded Icahn Enterprises LP. It’s accused Icahn of costly missteps, if not outright malfeasance. Worse, it’s accused him of what, for Icahn, is a cardinal corporate sin: lousy performance.

Nearly three weeks have passed since Susan Gordon, Icahn’s executive assistant and gatekeeper since the 1990s, called with the news. Hindenburg had laid out a case that the stock was significantly overvalued relative to its underlying holdings, and that the company’s high dividends—a big draw for investors—aren’t sustainable.

Anderson’s report has since blown an 11-figure hole in Icahn’s net worth. And Icahn, who has spent a lifetime waging one noisy boardroom battle after another, has mostly waved off the uncomfortable questions. His company, in a statement, has called the Hindenburg report “self-serving.”

Latest Target
Beyond that, Icahn doesn’t want to talk about it, at least publicly. In a 90-minute interview with Bloomberg News on May 21, he declined to address Hindenburg and its report directly. Yes, it’s a headache, he says. But Icahn insists that he has other things on his mind. Among them: his own latest target, gene-sequencing company Illumina Inc. That’s still moving ahead, he says, with his proxy fight coming to a head Thursday at its annual shareholder meeting.

“You’re going after some very powerful people, you’re ruffling some big feathers,” Icahn says. “If you're going to be bothered by this, you shouldn’t be in this business.”

He’s admitted to making at least one costly blunder: He lost $9 billion in recent years by betting—incorrectly—that the financial markets would crash.

Icahn, who’s patched in his general counsel, says he screwed up by trying to time the markets. He says he learned his lesson and has turned back to shaking up the companies he invests in.

“I strayed from what I really do the best,” Icahn says. “Yeah, I could’ve been richer.”

These days, Icahn mostly holes up at his mansion on the chic private-island enclave of Indian Creek, northeast of downtown Miami. Locals call the island the Billionaire Bunker. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are neighbors. So is hedge-funder Eddie Lampert. Security patrols the place via boat. Last week, a guard—one of 20 or so personnel who keep watch over the roughly 30 mansions—promptly turned a reporter away at the small bridge.

Icahn says he’s still playing tennis, still mixing martinis, still unwinding with a movie or two. At times, he sounds almost wistful, holding forth about his old exploits. At other times, he sounds like he’s looking forward to new battles ahead. Just the other evening, over a filet of Dover sole, he and son Brett, presumptive heir of Icahn Enterprises, were going on about the possibilities of AI.

“People come and ask me, ‘How do you feel?’ Maybe it sounds strange, but it doesn’t really affect me a whole lot. It’s my nature,” Icahn says.

‘Restless Billionaire’
It’s a strange twilight-of-the-gods moment for all of Wall Street. Icahn’s maneuvers at TWA, RJR Nabisco, Marvel, Texaco, Blockbuster—the list goes on—have passed from history to legend to near-myth. Once, he was branded a corporate raider. Today, he and his ilk prefer a gentler-sounding term: activist investor. Only last year, an HBO documentary, Icahn: The Restless Billionaire, celebrated the life and times of a figure who, in his prime, was the most-feared figure among corporate America’s CEOs.

People who know Icahn say the reversal has to sting.

“He’s never been humiliated like this,” says Mark Stevens, Icahn biographer and founder of consulting company MSCO.

Icahn always loved tilting at the corporate establishment. “It was like breaking their golf clubs and pouring vinegar in their martinis,” Stevens says, “and Hindenburg just did it to him.”

To Icahn’s enemies—and he’s made his share—the Hindenburg bombshell seems like long-awaited comeuppance.

“There is a karmic quality to this short report that reinforces the notion of a circle of life and death,’’ hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman tweeted when the report hit. Ackman, 57, famously jousted with Icahn a decade ago over Herbalife Ltd. and ended up losing a fortune. (Icahn and Ackman declined to discuss their feud or each other.)

Hindenburg declined to comment beyond its report. But it’s chalked up Icahn’s response thus far as a win. Shares in Icahn Enterprises are down 43% from May 1.

Lost Decade
It’s hard to argue about Icahn’s lackluster performance of late. This has been a lost decade for Icahn Enterprises stock. The price has fallen more than 60% over the past 10 years, while the S&P 500 has gained about 153%. Dividends have made up some of the difference: Icahn Enterprises has handed stockholders a total return of about 6%. But the S&P has returned roughly 206%.

Icahn says he’s received an “outpouring” of support from shareholders since Hindenburg’s salvo. “A lot of emails saying go get ’em, go fight ’em,” he says.

The public company owns stakes in a variety of businesses in industries ranging from energy to food to real estate, as well as Icahn’s not-so-secret weapons: the private investment funds he uses to wage his activist campaigns.

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