When it comes to 60th birthday bashes for private equity titans, there is no such thing as a financial crisis.
Apollo Global Management's Leon Black rang in the big 6-0 last weekend in spare-no-costs fashion with a shindig at his Southampton, N.Y., estate featuring foie gras, his wife decked out in a Vera Wang dress and a $1 million hour-and-a-half performance by Elton John.
The 200 guests at Black's oceanfront estate included Tiger Management's Julian Robertson, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman, Martha Stewart, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Charles Schumer, radio host Howard Stern and Wang.
The latter two offered some insight into the elaborate shindig in a public forum. Wang wrote on her Facebook page, "The great Sir Elton John performing at my friend Leon Black's fabulous 60th bday. I had the honor of dressing his wife, my friend, Debra Black, the hostess! If there was ever a great family… this was it!"
For his part, Stern offered some characteristic understatement on his show last Monday: "Leon throws some good parties, because Leon's worth like twenty gazillion, like twenty billion or something crazy for him, you know, a billion dollars is like ten dollars to us."
"Oh, I wish I was Leon Black's child," he joked.
Black's actual four children, all grown, offered toasts to their father after a buffet featuring crab cakes, steaks and a seared foie gras station.
Despite the fabulous setting on one of the Hamptons' most sought-after blocks, Black had to have some work done to get things just right. He covered his home's pool with a wooden deck and had a tent set up for the concert. Guests were able to lounge on couches featuring large, comfy-looking pillows.
According to The New York Times, the quote of the weekend came from Blankfein. He was reportedly overheard telling Schwarzman, whose own $3 million 60th birthday party in 2007 came just as the financial crisis was setting in, "Your 60th got us into the financial crisis. Let's hope this party gets us out of it."