On The Avenue

Happy 70th, Steve Schwarzman! Plutocrat Party in a Populist Age

by Michael Gross Photographed by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen, rev up your Gulfstreams. From New York to Palm Beach, society is all atwitter but this time, it’s not about anyone’s tweets. On the second weekend of February, philanthropist extraordinaire and private equity kingpin Stephen A. Schwarzman and his wife Christine Hearst Schwarzman, will celebrate his 70th birthday with about 400 friends in Palm Beach, Florida. Schwarzman, the co-founder of Blackstone Group who is also the newly appointed head of President Donald J. Trump‘s President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory panel on economic issues, is traveling and could not be reached for comment.

The festivities will include a private dinner at the couple’s 15,000-plus square foot estate (valued by Zillow at north of $58 million) on South Ocean Boulevard’s Billionaires Row, and lunch the following day (at the Brazilian Court Hotel, according to one of the several invited New Yorkers who whispered news of the fete to AVENUE).

West Palm Beach’s general aviation facility, already a major magnet for private jets, will likely be stuffed to the hangar-tops as guests fly in from all over the world. So the Schwarzmans have kindly cornered the market for hotel rooms all over town to accommodate them.

This isn’t the first time the Schwarzmans have gone all out for a birthday party. Indeed, the last one, a February 13, 2007, party for Steve’s 60th at the Park Avenue Armory that cost an estimated $3-5 estimated million, at which about 500 guests were entertained by (Schwarzman’s fellow Palm Beach A-List member) Rod Stewart and Patti Labelle, became a Neronic landmark in the run-up to the Great Recession. The usually plutocrat-friendly New York Post called it “the beginning of the end of Wall Street’s gilded age.” And Schwarzman later appeared to regret it. “Obviously, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that and become, you know, some kind of symbol of sorts of that period of time,” he said afterward. “Who would ever wish that on themselves? No one.”

So let’s hope his new boss the President stays in Washington and the First Lady in New York that weekend. If you add a presidential presence to what is already sure to be the Party of the Season on the narrow barrier island, Schwarzman may find himself some kind of symbol of sorts again—this time of the ‘uge ironies of the Trump era.


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