Vice Media chief said to pay $300,000 for dinner for 30

Emily Steel
Vice Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith
Getty Images

Never one known for restraint, Vice Media's Shane Smith may now have outdone even himself.

Mr. Smith, the chief executive of the provocative news and entertainment group, spent $300,000 for a dinner at the Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio in Las Vegas during the International CES trade show in January, according to one person who was at the party and another one who knew about it.

Mr. Smith, whose company closed financing last September that valued it at $2.5 billion, paid for the meal personally. More than 30 people were at the dinner, including friends, other Vice executives and staff members and directors like Tom Freston, a founder and former chief executive of MTV who later went on to run Viacom, according to a person who attended the event.

Liquor flowed freely, with some bottles of wine costing more than $20,000, according to the people. The most expensive food item on the menu at the Prime Steakhouse, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, is a 28-ounce bone-in rib eye for $85.

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To foot the bill, Mr. Smith dipped into his more than $1 million in winnings from gambling, especially at the blackjack table, during the week, the people said.

News of the meal, which was first reported by Bloomberg, surfaced after executives at MGM Resorts International mentioned the outsize dinner bill during a company conference call on Tuesday. They cited it in response to a question from an analyst about how spending at the casino now compares with levels before the recession. MGM did not identify Mr. Smith as the guest who had hosted the dinner.

James J. Murren, the chief executive of MGM, said he had not seen a check that size for several years.

"People are starting to spend money remarkably here," Mr. Murren said.

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The lavish dinner is the latest caper by Mr. Smith, who is charting a new course as a brash next-generation media mogul. He is known to drink with old-school media executives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the hipster enclave where Vice has its headquarters. He has called CNN an expletive and rented villas at Cannes during an annual international media conference there.

"They live larger, and that is part of the Vice je ne sais quoi," said Michael E. Kassan, the chief executive of the media and marketing consulting firm MediaLink, who is known to throw his own prominent industry dinners. "But they do good stuff. I am a big fan. They represent so much of what is new and exciting in the world."

Mr. Murren of MGM told the analyst Harry C. Curtis of Nomura Securities that he couldn't believe it when he first saw the tab. He said, "$300,000 for dinner at Prime. That's a pretty good check. You would have liked the wine, Harry."