Schwarzman Parties at 70 With Camels, Cake and Trump’s Entourageby
Buyout titan invites Wall Street and Washington to beach house
Bash features Gwen Stefani, trapeze act and mingling Olympians
There were camels in the sand, a gondolier in the pool and a giant birthday cake in the shape of a Chinese temple -- with Gwen Stefani on hand to help sing Happy Birthday at midnight.
Steve Schwarzman’s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday was another memorable affair, according to guests who attended. (The event was closed to the media.)
“You walked into what used to be the tennis court, and there was a balcony with trapeze artists,” said Larry Gagosian, the art dealer. “The level of detail and creativity, it was extraordinary. Steve loves parties.”
Guests said they were impressed by the production overseen by Schwarzman’s wife, Christine Hearst Schwarzman, and the event-design firm Van Wyck & Van Wyck, whose clients have included Madonna, Calvin Klein and David Koch for his own 70th.
Ivanka and Jared
“It was brilliantly stimulating,” said Koch, the day after Schwarzman’s party. “You learned a lot about Asian theater. There were acrobats, Mongolian soldiers and two camels. It was a little bit of everything.”
The guest list also was a little bit of everything, reflecting Schwarzman’s vast personal, professional, philanthropic and, increasingly, White House connections as the billionaire chief executive officer of Blackstone Group.
Representing President Trump’s sphere were daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and incoming cabinet members Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross and Elaine Chao. Bank bosses included Jes Staley of Barclays and Michael Corbat of Citigroup. Investing titans Henry Kravis, David Rubenstein and Howard Marks paid respects.
Philanthropic recipients and leaders abounded. Olympians, whose training Schwarzman sponsored, mingled. So did Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, and Nigel Thrift, executive director of the Schwarzman Scholars program.
And for some glamour: Donatella Versace, Sloan Barnett in Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Pigozzi who came up from Panama, Nicolas Berggruen, the Hiltons, Philippe Dauman and Francois Delattre, France’s representative to the United Nations.
A decade ago, Schwarzman’s lavish 60th birthday bash in Manhattan was highly chronicled, later becoming a symbol of Wall Street’s excess just before the financial crisis wiped away almost $10 trillion in market value. This time, it was far removed from the usual media horde and tucked behind security to keep out would-be protesters. But comparisons are still possible.
Last time: The cavernous Park Avenue Armory, built for military drills and society balls during the first Gilded Age. This time: Schwarzman’s own house on what’s come to be called an American Riviera.
Last time: Patti LaBelle and Rod Stewart. This time: Stefani did a set and afterward danced with Schwarzman, and “Jersey Boys” performers sang Frankie Valli songs.
Last time: There were moments that felt like a roast. This time: A video focused on his philanthropic endeavors. The party was “a warm and wonderful reflection of Steve’s generous support” of education, said Richard Levin, the former president of Yale. “His friends take pleasure in the good work that he is doing for children, institutions and global harmony.”
Last time: Remember that beautiful fur coat on Melania Trump? It was New York in February, on a weeknight. This time: No bundling required, with many folks golfing and swimming all day before a balmy night and fireworks alongside a full moon.
Donald Trump was staying nearby at his own seaside estate turned private club, Mar-a-Lago, but didn’t attend. Many people, it seems, needed a little Palm Beach respite.
“The world is an uncertain place, a lot of people are unhappy with a lot of other people, there are a lot of things that people are upset about,” said Oaktree Capital’s Marks. “So it’s nice to have an evening where everybody’s happy, harmonious and upbeat.”
But the best laid plans can be foiled, and Schwarzman himself wasn’t immune. After a luncheon on Sunday at the Brazilian Court hotel, Schwarzman tried to leave in a light-blue convertible Buick Skylark.
He and his wife climbed into the classic car, and he turned the ignition -- again and again. It wouldn’t start. Someone checked under the hood a few times, with no luck. So Schwarzman climbed into the back seat of a black SUV instead. And the New Yorker rode away.