Ben Stiller Is Moving Back in With His ParentsWell, sort of. He bought a $10 million duplex in the same building as his ’rents. Plus, Stephen Schwarzman has fallen off ‘Vanity Fair’s’ New Establishment list; Dennis Kozlowski appeals, and the ‘WSJ’ proudly unveils its new magazine, in today’s industry news.
Steve Schwarzman Endeavors To Look More HumanBlackstone honcho Stephen Schwarzman seems to be conducting a little public-relations campaign to sweeten his image. Fresh off a New Yorker profile in which “the designated villain of an era on Wall Street” came across as semi-endearing, he took the Times along on a trip to the Sacred Heart School in the Bronx, to which he recently gave $5 million. “I used to do homework and got a 90, but not much above that,” Uncle Stevie told one fourth-grader he has reportedly been corresponding with, according to the Times. “But I couldn’t get 96’s like you did.” Explaining why he had chosen this school, which is run by the archdiocese, to bestow his wealth, the gagillionaire cited the 98 percent graduation rate and the diverse population. Then, for a second, the old Schwarzman sneaked out: “You can fire people,” he said. “It’s nonunion.”
Schwarzman’s School Ties [DealBook/NYT]
Earlier: On the Inside, Steve Schwarzman Is Still Just a Short Kid From Philly
white men with money
The Internet Wishes Steve Schwarzman a ‘Happy’ BirthdayStephen Schwarzman’s 60th-birthday party at the Park Avenue Armory last year, replete with its lobsters and baked Alaska, Patti LaBelle and Rod Stewart, has, fairly or unfairly, become a symbol of the wealth and self-indulgence of the private-equity set and made the Blackstone CEO “the designated villain of an era on Wall Street,” as James Stewart put it recently in The New Yorker. Exactly one year later, with the country in the midst of a credit crunch on the verge of a recession, people across the Internet are heralding Schwarzman’s birthday as a turning point and offering the multi-billionaire some very special birthday wishes — with a side of Schadenfreude. Reuters gloatingly notes that “Blackstone’s stock hasn’t topped its opening day price, politicians have proposed restrictions on the industry’s tax status, and a credit crunch has made financing deals difficult” in an article headlined “Happy Birthday, Mr. Schwarzman.” Portfolio made a musical, interactive card that readers can use to send him messages. “Still down with EOP? :)” says one signed “Sam.”
Mon Dieu! French Fraud Costs Bank $7 BillionFINANCE
• Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has some big plans at Davos this year: “Number one on my list is world peace.” [MarketBeat/WSJ, DealBook/NYT]
• Looks like Steve Schwarzman is green only with greed — his newest moneymaking scheme hinges on building huge coal plants in pristine locales in the American West. [Fortune]
• Société Générale, the second biggest bank in France, found that one of its “plain vanilla” traders had taken “massive fraudulent directional positions…far beyond his limited authority” that would ultimately end up costing the bank $7 billion. It is, according to the Times, “an exceptional fraud.” Seriously! Quelle balls! [NYT]
CNBC to Roger Ailes: ‘Nanny Nanny Boo Boo’MEDIA
• Despite Roger Ailes’s declaration that Fox Business Channel would start a “revolution” against rival business channel CNBC, this war appears to have petered out after a skirmish: Only about 6,300 people a day, on average, watch the babes of FBN, compared to the 283,000 who tune in to CNBC for that dreamy hunk Charlie Gasparino. [NYT]
• Let the stunts begin! David Letterman plans to shave off his beard on the air next Monday: “Can we get a guy in here Monday to shave me? Now, a good guy, because the last time we did this, I looked like—when he was done, I looked like I’d been in a knife fight.” No word yet on whether Conan O’Brien, who’s writers unlike Letterman’s are still on strike, will lose his whiskers. Meanwhile, Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel turned down Colbert’s invite to appear on his show, showing solidarity with the strikers. [NYDN, NYO]
• The Writers Guild is facing its own little labor problem: The East Coast branch’s internal staff claims that the contract they signed back in October was later changed without their permission. Let’s see, what’s that word … something writers always love. Oh, right, irony. [NYP]
Condoleezza Rice and Martin Scorsese Go Way Back, Didn’t You Know?FINANCE
• Stephen Schwarzman, Lloyd Blankfein, and David Rubenstein got down with Bush, Condi, and friends (including Martin Scorsese?!) at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. [NYP]
• Barron Hilton decided to donate almost his entire $2.3 billion fortune to the family foundation, including the proceeds from the recent sale of Hilton Hotels and Harrah’s casinos. Does this mean we’ll have to stop calling Paris an heiress? [NYT]
• If private equity is the smart money on Wall Street, then why have Blackstone’s shareholders lost so big? The Times gives the easy answer: “What Wall Street is about is smart guys thinking about ways to make money from dumb ones.” Good work, Steve Schwarzman! [NYT]
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Steve Schwarzman: Some of My Best Friends Are Poor People“We are not greedy speculators out to make a quick buck,” Steve Schwarzman, the Blackstone CEO whose wealth Forbes estimates at $8 billion, said of private-equity groups at a conference yesterday in London. “We are viewed as a destructive force with a short-term perspective, levering companies and stripping their assets to enrich a few nasty people like me, who then don’t even pay taxes on all that they get in such an unsavory manner.” Yeah, that sounds about right. We had no idea Schwarzman, whose 60th-birthday party cost around $15 million, was so self-aware. And, perhaps, misunderstood? In reality, he said, the aim of private-equity funds like Blackstone is not to mint money for a select few — they’re a “force for good.” They’re practically charitable organizations, which give “the little guy” (really) “via his or her pension fund, 80 percent of the upside in wealth creation that has historically been the exclusive preserve of the Rockefellers and Mellons of the world.” Wow, that’s so nice. Steve is, like, our friend. Maybe since he’s so magnanimous, he’ll invite us to his $37 million, 24-room apartment at 740 Park, former home of Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, for his annual Christmas fête! Right? Steve? Buddy?
Blackstone Defends Private Equity Role in Business [Reuters]
Walters Says Greenspan Always Gave Bad AdviceFINANCE
• Alan Greenspan’s old flame Barbara Walters complained the G-man never gave good advice, insisting back in the seventies that she avoid an apartment on Fifth Avenue because it was a “bad investment.” [NYP]
• Henry Kravis got a little egg on his face thanks to the collapse of the $8 billion Harman buyout. Steve Schwarzman gets bragging rights or an excuse to back out of his own impossibly huge deals. [Deal Journal/WSJ]
• With computers taking over, the NYSE plans to cut the trading floor down by half from its historic high. The famous Main Room and “the Garage,” opened in 1903 and 1922 respectively, will remain open. [NYT]
Renée Zellweger, Not on FireRenée Zellweger’s neighbor called the FDNY on her because she had a fire going in her fireplace. Jennifer Lopez and her mom don’t talk anymore, perhaps because of Marc Anthony. Mary Louise Parker took her adopted (and Brat Pitt–approved) African baby to a doctor’s appointment in New York. Blackstone chairman Steven Schwarzman’s charitable foundation has only $63,424 in assets and is holding just $991 for charitable purposes. Kelly Klein is expected to make $3 million by selling jewels ex-hubby Calvin bought her for $200,000 in 1987. Kanye West went to Blue Ribbon with a leather-clad dominatrix and some models. George Clooney was jokingly slapped by “a really hot girl” at Bungalow 8’s New York branch. Kim Kardashian and Terrence Howard were caught making out at Butter and Tenjune.
in other news
64 New Yorkers Make ‘Forbes’ 400You haven’t, by any chance, been feeling rich lately, have you? Sort of feeling a little bit smug that the burst of the real-estate bubble won’t splatter all over you? At least a little bit excited that in November, your every-other-Friday paycheck will come three times instead of twice? Well, just in time for all that, Forbes has released its annual list of the 400 richest people in America. And guess what? Sixty-four of them are New Yorkers! The top 100 billionaires, in fact, include household (okay, apartment-hold) names like shareholder activist Carl Icahn, Revlon CEO Ron Perelman, designer Ralph Lauren, Condé Nast chairman Si Newhouse oh yeah, and Mayor Bloomberg, who at $11.5 billion is America’s 25th richest man. According to Forbes, he more than doubled his wealth from last year, which was enough to leapfrog over rival media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the ranks.
No Vindication for Jane PrattMEDIA
• Jane Pratt doesn’t feel vindicated that Jane was killed but does feel bad for its employees. [Radar]
• Kevin Reilly, the former chief programmer for NBC, was picked up by Fox after losing his job to Ben Silverman. [NYT]
• The Nation asks its readers to chip in for “The Great Postal Crisis of 2007.” [FishbowlNY/Mediabistro]
Bill Clinton’s Handshakes Are Still FetishizedMike Bloomberg, Ron Perelman, and David Koch are the three most philanthropic New Yorkers, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Bill Clinton gave Cindy Adams a tutorial on shaking hands. An old man yelled at Edie Falco. Peter Fonda says stage actors “have intercourse with the audience every night.” Donald Trump wants to dump Nancy O’Dell as the host of Miss USA. A random model — Amber Valletta — doesn’t care for New York. Josh Hartnett and Maria Sharapova considered doing karaoke on Thursday night. Steve Schwarzman grew up poor.
V-Day in CeleblandSpike Jonze and Drew Barrymore spent Valentine’s Day together. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban spent Valentine’s Day apart. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick spent Valentine’s Day together, but seemed “distant.” Mike Myers, Hugh Jackman, and Joan Collins all spent Valentine’s Day at the Waverly Inn, though, presumably, not together. Mike Bloomberg’s favorite singer is Aretha Franklin. Liz Smith says Steve Schwarzman’s birthday blowout could have cost as much as $15 million.
Maria Bartiromo Feels Pretty, Oh So PrettyBefore Maria Bartiromo was on MSNBC and flying on private jets, she lived a life out of West Side Story. Speaking of Bartiromo, Citigroup head Charles Prince may have leaked the jet-ride scandal to the media. Former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos uploaded some unintentionally funny government-propaganda films to YouTube. Financier Henry Kravis complained that he wasn’t invited to Stephen Schwarzman’s blowout birthday party. Brad and Angelina needed beads and masks to escape from a New Orleans restaurant.
That Big Party You Kept Reading Stephen Schwarzman Was Planning? He Had ItWall Street buyout king Stephen Schwarzman threw a party at the Park Avenue Armory. It cost $3 million. Lydia Hearst is only giving away her limited-edition purses to “role models”; Britney Spears asked for one at last week’s Heatherette show but was turned down. An executive assistant at Jive Records was fired for using interns to sell pre-release Justin Timberlake albums at $50 a pop. Registered nurse Judi Giuliani helped out a sick passenger on an airplane. Bill and Hillary are having Valentine’s Day dinner at a secret location tonight. Mario Batali won a lawsuit against his landlord at Del Posto. Paris Hilton will celebrate her birthday this Saturday with Nicole Richie and Snoop Dogg.
Bloated Executive Birthday Parties are Back!FINANCE
• Stephen A. Schwartzman’s 60th-birthday bacchanal will have 1,500 guests marching around the drill room of the Park Avenue armory on February 13. [NYT]
• Management tips from Super Bowl coaches: Don’t scream at your employees. [WSJ]
• At Citigroup, CEO Charles Prince can either improve the company’s performance, or break it up. [Crain’s]