Reclusive hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lambert, who engineered the 2005 merger of Sears and Kmart which led to the loss of thousands of jobs and stores, talked to the April Vanity Fair magazine.

He was accompanied by two representatives from Teneo Holdings, the high-stakes corporate advisory and communications outfit, who monitored the conversation.

The Devil to Pay from Vanity Fair, April 2018

The profile is headlined “The Devil to Pay.”

A Teneo rep told writer William Cohan that Lambert hadn’t conducted a “one-on-one first-person interview for several years.”

Cohan calculated that Lambert hasn’t talked to the press in 15 years, a low-profile that may be do with his kidnapping in 2003 and being held for ransom.

Lambert’s “blundering into retail has made him a poster boy for what some people think is wrong on Wall Street and, in particular, hedge funds,” wrote Cohan.

Sears and Kmart, which combined for 5,670 stores at their peak in the 2000s, now have 1,207 outlets and 200,000 fewer workers.

Last year, Sears Holdings admitted that its future as “a going concern” is in doubt, an accounting term that often serves as a precursor to Chapter XI.

Cohan wrote: “The vultures are circling, waiting for Lambert to throw in the towel so they can try to make money by buying Sears’s discounting debt.”

The Teneo rep responded: “There is no merit to the speculation that Mr. Lambert is working to benefit from the ‘liquidation,’ ‘failure’ or ‘bankruptcy’ of Sears Holdings.”

For his part, Lambert said: “We’re fighting to survive—that’s pretty clear,” and, “I believe in what’s possible, and we’re doing things that are necessary to keep the company going.”