Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

No special treatment for Milken billionaires


The Milken Institute's annual Global Conference in Los Angeles is on again this week, and there's as much star power as ever, from former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to Rwandan President Paul Kagame to pop singer Akon.

There are so many big names at "Davos with palm trees," in fact, that billionaires don't automatically get VIP treatment.

On Monday morning, for example, billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen was forced to wait on line for the men's room, which was several minutes long given the high amount of males at the conference.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Just after making his way out, he spotted hotel magnate Steve Wynn in the hallway in between panel sessions. But Wynn was already speaking with someone else, so the former head of SAC Capital Management stood waiting to shake his hand (the two eventually spoke).

Steve Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group—who is worth an estimated $9.8 billion—also barely got into a discussion on the future of Wall Street.

The room was full and the guard told Schwarzman several times that the panel was at capacity. The private equity titan was patient even when no solution seemed evident. Finally a man next to them pressed the guard, saying "you should really let this guy in." He ultimately opened the door for Schwarzman.

Another who didn't get automatic star treatment was hedge fund manager Alan Howard, co-founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management.

Despite managing billions of dollars, Howard was squeezed in the back row of general seating at a panel discussion on the Japanese economy—just after leading a keynote panel discussion on the global economy.

Howard is worth an estimated $1.6 billion according to Forbes.

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne