One of the things First Round admires most in private equity professionals (and indeed other, lesser, mortals) is conviction and constancy – the ability to stick to one’s guns, even in the face of the sternest opposition. ‘If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you/But make allowance for their doubting too’ – that sort of thing. And if there’s one noble cause that is particularly and indubitably worthy of said conviction, it’s party-throwing.
It may not have escaped your attention that some of the lavish bashes thrown by the buyout world’s biggest beasts have attracted a degree of opprobrium from what First Round likes to think of as the ‘gutter press’. And none more so than the now-notorious 60th birthday bash of Blackstone Group co-founder Stephen Schwarzman in 2007 – complete with Patti LaBelle, Rod Stewart, and full-length portraits of the birthday boy – which has since come to take on a kind of fin de siècle significance, a suitably extravagant book-end to private equity’s boom years.
In the years since, Schwarzman has appeared to show a bit of remorse about the whole thing, even telling Fortune a year or so later that in retrospect he wished he hadn’t bothered. But this is not the Steve Schwarzman that First Round knows and loves. This is not the kind of craven, populist, wishy-washy anti-party sentiment it expects from a man who built Blackstone into a remorseless money-making machine.
So we were delighted to note recently that the Schwarzman party machine is back in action – although this time the beneficiary was not Steve himself, but tennis legend Jimmy Connors, who according to the New York Post celebrated his 61st birthday (and his new book launch, natch) at Schwarzman’s Park Avenue pad.
The guest list involved a high billionaire count, and there were congratulatory messages from tennis stars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the Post said. But more, much more than this: the centrepiece was apparently an edible mini tennis court, made out of organic wheat grass. How does someone even think of that?
One thing’s for sure: with mad skills like these, it’s an enormous boon to the party-throwing cause that Team Schwarzman is back in the game.