Time was you could count on Steve Schwarzman to throw a good party.
Or, at least, an excessive party.
In February of 2007, Schwarzman celebrated his birthday with a $4 million party. Just a few days before, Blackstone had completed a $39 billion purchase of EOP Properties. It was the largest leveraged buyout ever. Security was said to be close to impenetrable.
"Security at the event was tight: Beyond the handful of police officers on the scene, several barrel-chested men with black berets, olive jackets served as silent sentries at the door," DealBook's Mike Merced wrote.
Those days are past. Last Thursday, Kevin Roose of New York Magazine managed to crash the Blackstone holiday party without so much as a word to the folks at the door. No more burly men in black berets. Just girls with clipboards.
It's been rumored, in certain New York social circles, that Steve Schwarzman knows how to party. So when I heard that Schwarzman’s private-equity juggernaut, the Blackstone Group, was having its 25th annual holiday bash at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday night, I knew something momentous was about to go down.
I texted a friend who works at Blackstone: Can I crash it? He shot back: The whole firm will be there. You’ll blend in. (Which translates to: You’re not nearly as good-looking as us, but don’t worry: The IT guys with buzz cuts and square-toe shoes will cover you.)
So I donned my good suit, looped my one and only Vineyard Vines tie, and headed uptown to pull off some Jason Bourne–style black ops. Getting in was surprisingly easy. Head down, a quick wave to the women with the clipboards, stick out my jaw, and use the old pretend-to-be-on-the-phone trick: I was past the guards and back into 2007.
Big-name Wall Street banks may be cutting back on their holiday parties to save face, but private-equity firms, who never really cared what Main Street thinks, are still going all out. Blackstone rented out the entire museum for the night, but the party proper was being held in the Sackler Wing, where all the priceless Egyptian relics live. Outside the door, a line wound into the hallway. A husband and wife talked behind me.
“What are we waiting for?”
“Steve and his wife are shaking hands at the door.”
“Oh, I thought the line was to see the art.”
“He is the art.”
Roose rates the party a mere 2 out of 5 for exclusivity. He gives the party good ratings for food and drink. But the overall level of debauchery is surprisingly tame, rating a mere 1 out of 5. Perhaps Roose should have stuck around for the after-party.
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