Business, Economics and Jobs

Pope resignation: 5 other 'I quits' that shocked the world (PHOTOS)


Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to ring the Opening Bell as the CIA Commemorates it's 65th Anniversary on September 18, 2012 in New York City. He shocked the world just a month later with his resignation.


Spencer Platt

Pope Benedict XVI sent the world reeling Monday when he announced his resignation, effective at the end of February. 

Being the first pope to resign in hundreds upon hundreds of years is pretty shocking, sure, but it's not the first time the public has been blown away by a powerful figure quitting.

Here, we've rounded up five of the most surprising resignations in recent history.

More from GlobalPost: Pope Benedict XVI to resign February 28

1. David Petraeus, CIA Director 

CIA Director David Petraeus gave screenwriters everywhere the blueprint for the next box office hit when he announced he was resigning because of an extramarital affair — with his stunning biographer, Paula Broadwell. 

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in his statement November 9, 2012, according to the Washington Post. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation."

We've since caught our collective breath, but it was quite the Friday afternoon admission. 

2. Greg Smith, VP at Goldman Sachs

There are lots of ways to resign, but Greg Smith gets major audacity points.  

The former Goldman Sachs vice president quit by way of an Op-ed in The New York Times, titled "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs." In an arguably less bold move, he fled his London office for New York on a Saturday night before it went to print.

His opinion piece proceeded to set the financial world on fire over allegations of Goldman Sachs' untrustworthiness and "toxic and destructive" environment. 

Smith's resignation letter spun into a book deal, and many obsessed over the accuracy of the details within, given Goldman's culture of secrecy, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. But no matter what your opinion of Smith, you have to give him credit for facing his situation. 

3. Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy

The CEO of the electronics company abruptly stepped down from his post in April 2012, amid a board investigation into his "personal conduct." 

“Certain issues were brought to the board’s attention regarding Mr. Dunn’s personal conduct, unrelated to the company’s operations or financial controls, and an audit committee investigation was initiated," a spokesman for the company explained, according to The New York Times. "Prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Dunn chose to resign.”

The behavior in question turned out to be the 52-year-old executive's "extremely close" relationship with a 29-year-old employee, which included frequent lavish meals, tickets to events, and private time in his office, Forbes reported

Well — at least he got out early? 

4. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple

The words that Apple lovers dreaded came on August 25, 2011. 

"I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know," Steve Jobs wrote in his resignation letter. "Unfortunately, that day has come."

The heart, soul, and face of Apple left to battle pancreatic cancer, to which Jobs ultimately succumbed in October 2011. 

"Steve Jobs is the world's magic man. No compromises," John Sculley, who led Apple between 1983 and 1993, said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A bow-out could hardly be more graceful. 

5. Richard Nixon, President of the United States

Perhaps not the most surprising of this list, but certainly worthy. In 1974, Richard Nixon finally caved to the political and public pressure wrought by the Watergate scandal, stepping down as America's 37th president. 

He was the first US president ever to resign from the position. 

"By taking this action," he said in his television address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

Though many welcomed Nixon's resignation with jubilance, it was still a heart-stopper to see the most powerful man in America brought to his knees. 

Did we miss any biggies? Let us know in the comments.