There were orchids by the truckload, tycoons by the dozen, and enough Oscar de la Renta gowns to fill the party pages for at least a year. But the several-hundred people who attended Steve Schwarzman’s 60th birthday party on Tuesday night at the Park Avenue Armory talked about nothing more than how much it cost.
“Everyone was budgeting it,” laughed one guest. “I heard $3 million,” said a second source. “Five was the number I was told,” said a third.
Whatever the final tally comes in at — and the estimates ranged up to $10 million — the private equity honcho was determined not to disappoint. Said Martin Short, the evening’s emcee for hire: “This room is so rich Donald Trump just offered Steve Wynn $120 million to poke a hole in Rosie O’Donnell.”
And the reference to Wynn’s famed mishap with a Picasso was apt. In addition to Trump (and chief executives like Howard Stringer and Bruce Wasserstein) the fete was attended by Sid and Mercedes Bass, Al Taubman and Tiffany Dubin, Vera Wang and Arthur Becker, Sherrill and Muffie Potter Aston, Dixon and Arriana Boardman, Jennifer Creel, Charlie Rose, Barbara Walters, Vernon Jordan, Colin Powell, Gustavos and Patty Cisneros, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Gov. George Pataki.
After a cocktail hour in a gigantic replica of the birthday boy’s living room, a slew of Knickerbockers (some of them as young as 10 years old) escorted guests through a hall of mirrors to the main dining room, where they dined on filet mignon from Glorious Foods and watched the evening’s entertainment, which began with a marching band and went on and on and on. There was Short roasting Schwarzman, then Marvin Hamlisch, then Patti LaBelle and a gospel choir of about 50 singers, and fi nally Rod Stewart, whose reported salary was $1 million. While the aging rocker performed, screens displayed the lyrics of his songs, guests sang along, and at one point, Marisa Noel Brown took to the stage and did a little jig with Stewart.
The seating chart stirred its share of controversy, though. Pataki was placed at a table with New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine: The two are said to dislike each other immensely. Dixon Boardman and his young wife, Arriana, were seated at the same table as his ex-wife, the one he reportedly left for his current wife. “I think it was just totally uncomfortable,” said one partygoer.
This story first appeared in the February 15, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
There were no toasts for the Blackstone Group partner from friends, no speech from his wife, no video tributes from luminaries like Henry Kissinger. In fact, one attendee described the party as the apogee of “corporate entertaining.” Another said it was “soulless.” One bemused tycoon told his wife he was simply speechless. “It’s the end of something,” he said.
However, a close friend of Schwarzman’s said: “It was over the top, but he never pretends to be anything else.”
Another put it similarly. “They’re not the Buckleys, and they haven’t been able to purchase the patina of the Astors or the Rockefellers. They don’t have the chicness of the Basses or the de la Rentas, but this is America. There’s a place for them.”