The Man Who Bought New York


Final Might, a well-recognized routine came about on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork.

Katy Perry ascended the purple carpet on the annual Costume Institute gala trying just like the bride of Frankenstein in her purple John Galliano costume and veil. Jennifer Lopez wafted by in sky blue Valentino, flanked by her favourite Yankee of all time and the founding father of the design home answerable for making her robe.

Against this, the doorway of the non-public fairness guru Stephen A. Schwarzman and his spouse, Christine, was inconspicuous.

He wore a easy black tuxedo. She had on a shimmering grey Versace robe.

However, journalists known as out their names. Cameras continued to flash. And obnoxious questions adopted about which value extra, the get together the couple was waltzing into or the one they’d lately held in Palm Seashore, Fla., in honor of Mr. Schwarzman’s 70th birthday.

“I believe this one,” Mr. Schwarzman mentioned, though it was exhausting to not marvel if this guess was a measure of actuality or wishful considering. Definitely, the Met had no have reside camels within the entryway to the get together area. Nor did Gwen Stefani serenade Anna Wintour to the reported tune of $500,000.

However all that’s neither right here nor there.

Mr. Schwarzman’s birthday bash might have been cheaper than final 12 months’s Costume Institute gala, however it’s because of his fortune ($12.three billion, in keeping with Forbes) that there’s a celebration taking place this Monday.

He and his spouse helped underwrite the exhibition “Heavenly Our bodies: Trend and the Catholic Creativeness,” handing over a verify that two sources near the museum mentioned was within the ballpark of $5 million.

“A lot of the cultural vitality of New York has lengthy been because of the benevolence of such nice Individuals as Brooke Astor and David Rockefeller,” Ms. Wintour mentioned in an announcement final week. “On the Met, we’ve been terribly fortunate to companion with Stephen and Christine Schwarzman, who, just like the philanthropists who’ve gone earlier than them, have at all times supported the whole lot from arts and tradition to training to Catholic charities. It’s their generosity — together with that of my pal Donatella Versace — that has made this good and groundbreaking exhibition doable. While you work with the likes of Stephen and Christine, everybody advantages.”

So Mr. Schwarzman could also be a flash level for earnings inequality, a person with extra money than respect, however that seldom stops him from having the final snicker, or getting the multi-million-dollar tax write-off. (All of the folks concerned declined interviews.)

Preserve Your Pals Shut

There are a number of causes Mr. Schwarzman evokes enmity.

First: New York Metropolis has extra residents price a minimum of $30 million than any metropolis on planet Earth, nevertheless it nonetheless regards itself as a progressive enclave. An adviser to President Trump who as soon as in contrast Obama-era tax hikes on firms to Hitler invading Poland is certain to have some enemies. (Mr. Schwarzman apologized, however nonetheless.)

Second: Mr. Schwarzman is famously brash, a 5-foot-6-inch bundle of testosterone who in 2008 described his enterprise philosophy by saying, “I need warfare — not a sequence of skirmishes.” This has prolonged not solely to his rivals at competing companies, but additionally at instances to these closest to him.

His mentor at Lehman Brothers, the place Mr. Schwarzman labored within the earlier a part of his profession, was Peter G. Peterson, a a lot revered society and enterprise world determine. After Mr. Peterson misplaced management of Lehman in 1984 and left the corporate, Mr. Schwarzman was behind the putsch that drove their enemies from energy.

Collectively, Mr. Peterson and Mr. Schwarzman began the Blackstone Group, a personal fairness agency that grew right into a monetary colossus that dwarfed rivals like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Carlyle Group.

In 2007, the Blackstone Group went public, and Mr. Schwarzman earned lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} by way of the I.P.O. However the subsequent negotiations across the retirement bundle of his mentor Mr. Peterson, then 81, have been brutal. Individuals who knew them each have been shocked.

Mr. Peterson died in March. On the memorial, quite a few attendees took observe that Mr. Peterson’s most well-known protégé was not chosen as a speaker.

The Huge Donations

Mr. Schwarzman’s charitable contributions have ignited controversy. That is partly as a result of the presents usually include circumstances.

In 2015, Yale College introduced that Mr. Schwarzman was donating $150 million to the varsity for the development of a scholar hub positioned smack in the midst of its campus. It’s scheduled to open in 2020 and might be known as the Schwarzman Heart.

“I’m greater than snug with that,” mentioned Peter Salovey, the varsity’s president. “It demonstrates our thankfulness to Steve.”

So whose concept was it to call the constructing within the donor’s honor?

“I can’t reply questions in regards to the contractual negotiation,” Mr. Salovey mentioned in a cellphone interview that was supervised by a public relations individual from Mr. Schwarzman’s group. “It’s a matter of confidentiality.”

Anyway, Mr. Salovey identified, “there are lots of of areas on our campus named for donors.”

In addition to quite a few different distinguished nonprofits. The Fifth Avenue headquarters of the New York Public Library is now the Stephen A. Schwarzman constructing, because of a contribution of $100 million in 2008. And the Nationwide Library of Israel’s landmark constructing in Jerusalem will quickly change into the Stephen A. Schwarzman Schooling Heart, after a contribution earlier this 12 months for $10 million.

Annette de la Renta, a board member on the Met and the New York Public Library, doesn’t get why all this evokes such fuss, such sanctimony.

“Individuals ought to simply be grateful,” she mentioned.

But they’re not at all times.

Partly it’s because there stays a choose group of individuals (amongst them, Mrs. de la Renta) who keep in mind that Brooke Astor rescued the New York Public Library from monetary spoil within the early ’80s with out making such calls for. Moreover, the latest concentrate on capital enhancements at New York’s most storied nonprofits is going on at a time when their boards are chock-full of actual property barons and finance wizards who’ve voted to scale back providers, lay off workers and offload belongings.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork reduce the ribbon on a four-block-long plaza named after Mr. Schwarzman’s downstairs neighbor David Koch, who paid $65 million for the privilege. Shortly afterward, the Met’s management introduced that the museum was eliminating the roles of as much as 100 folks in administrative, conservationist and curatorial positions in an effort to deal with a ballooning $30 million deficit.

“All that cash for a bunch of ineffective fountains,” mentioned Michael M. Thomas, the best-selling writer who preceded Mr. Schwarzman each as a scholar at Yale and as a companion at Lehman Brothers.

In line with Mr. Thomas, Mr. Salovey is correct to argue that Mr. Schwarzman is one in every of many individuals at Yale with an area named in his honor. However that reveals the extent of the issue with fashionable philanthropy, not its absence, he mentioned.

“That’s why I’m not going to my 60th reunion,” he mentioned. “Yale is Whoresville, U.S.A. You’ll be able to quote me on that.”

Earlier this 12 months, Mr. Schwarzman gave $25 million to the highschool he had attended in Abington, Pa. However plans to rename it after him have been scrapped when folks within the city almost had a conniption.

To the delight of Mr. Thomas, the donation nonetheless went by way of. “It took somewhat highschool in Pennsylvania to do what Yale wouldn’t,” he mentioned, chuckling.

A Nice Marriage

Jimmy Lee, a pal of Mr. Schwarzman’s, has joked that Mr. Schwarzman has given extra money to the archdiocese than any Jew in New York. Partly, it’s because his spouse, Christine, is Catholic.

Mr. Schwarzman met her someday round 1994.

“I mounted them up,” mentioned Debbie Bancroft, a celebration scene fixture and a contributor to Avenue Journal. He had beforehand been married to Ellen Philips, the daughter of a rich Ohio industrialist, whom he met throughout his graduate work at Harvard Enterprise College.

Christine, a company lawyer, had lately separated from Austin Hearst, the grandson of the media baron William Randolph Hearst. Mr. Schwarzman’s courtship didn’t take lengthy. In November 1995, the couple married in Manhattan and gave a celebration to rejoice on the Frick Museum, the place Mr. Schwarzman is a longtime board member.

5 years later, Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman made their first actual mark as a society couple by shopping for a 17,000-square-foot, three-floor penthouse condominium at 740 Park Avenue. That was its personal type of a leveraged buyout.

The condominium as soon as belonged to John D. Rockefeller. Later it was owned by Saul Steinberg, who bought it to Mr. Schwarzman after Mr. Steinberg’s firm, the Reliance Group, went into chapter 11.

Off went Mr. Steinberg’s billiard tables. Down got here the purple vinyl partitions, which actually wouldn’t have been the way in which to showcase Mr. Schwarzman’s Monets and Cy Twomblys.

Quickly, Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman started eating tête-à-tête with Cardinal Edward Egan, the late archbishop of New York. Mr. Schwarzman fortunately gave monetary recommendation for Cardinal Egan to take again to the archdiocese.

Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman additionally grew to become fixtures on the charity circuit.

“They’re peas in a pod,” mentioned Ms. Bancroft, who usually will get a Valentine’s Day card from Mr. Schwarzman thanking her for the introduction that has made him the happiest man on this planet. “They’re energizer bunnies. They love dancing, they usually love watching folks.”

In 2007, Mr. Schwarzman held his party on the Park Avenue Armory. Knickerbockers guided friends to their tables, which have been in an area designed to copy the couple’s lounge. Martin Brief served because the M.C. and made jokes about friends like Mr. Trump. Rod Stewart and Patti LaBelle carried out.

Mere months after Mr. Schwarzman spent $100 million to have his title plunked throughout the facade of the New York Public Library, Mr. Koch paid $100 million to have his title placed on the facade of Lincoln Heart.

Residents at 740 Park Avenue started to drift the speculation that the conservative billionaire on the fourth ground was attempting to one-up the conservative billionaire on 15.

The Met Gala

How does a person persons are inclined to make enjoyable of often wind up with the higher hand? Properly, having cash helps loads.

Simply take a look at Mr. Schwarzman’s relationship with the president.

Mr. Schwarzman didn’t endorse Mr. Trump in the course of the marketing campaign. As an alternative, he donated to Jeb Bush. (He even as soon as in contrast Mr. Trump to P.T. Barnum, when talking to CNN in 2015.)

However the Blackstone Group is an enormously highly effective actual property investor. Between 2013 and 2017, it supplied greater than $400 million to the troubled actual property initiatives of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Trump was unusually solicitous about Mr. Schwarzman in the course of the marketing campaign, and reportedly requested aides quite a few instances if there had been any luck getting him to pledge allegiance.

That didn’t occur till after Mr. Trump gained the election, at which level Mr. Schwarzman agreed to come back aboard his group of enterprise advisers and commenced elevating cash for his re-election. When Mr. Schwarzman celebrated his 70th birthday in Florida in February 2017, Mr. Kushner and his spouse, Ivanka Trump, have been among the many friends.

As was Donatella Versace.

In 2014, the Blackstone Group purchased a minority stake in her firm for $287 million. So when Versace was approached to sponsor the Costume Institute gala, however didn’t have the funds for, calling Mr. Schwarzman made sense.

In September 2017, Cardinal Egan’s successor on the archdiocese, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, acquired a go to from a few folks representing the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork. Cardinal Dolan nonetheless can’t completely bear in mind who they have been.

“There was a man named Andrew and this woman who edits {a magazine},” Cardinal Dolan mentioned in an interview.

Nonetheless, it was clear to him she is a reasonably large deal, an “admired” individual, he mentioned, as a result of “all these folks” in his workplace received bizarrely star-struck when she walked in.

As Cardinal Dolan’s guests defined it to him, the theme for the Costume Institute’s huge exhibition for 2018 was to be “Heavenly Our bodies,” a tribute to the Catholic creativeness.

Not all of the publicity the church receives is optimistic, so it got here as a aid to listen to that the exhibit was being underwritten by his previous pal Mr. Schwarzman.

“That’s once I mentioned, ‘Bingo,’” Cardinal Dolan recalled.

Over the previous couple of weeks, pals of the Schwarzmans have been barely shocked that his verify underwriting the exhibition didn’t translate into invites for them. “I’m nonetheless holding out for the chance they might get a cancellation from J.Lo,” Ms. Bancroft joked.

Individuals near the museum and to Ms. Wintour have been somewhat shocked that requests product of the Schwarzmans sometimes get turned down. In the end, although, it’s a win-win.

The Costume Institute has the cash it wanted for the exhibition.

Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman would be the first couple to co-host the gala since 1997, when none aside from Mr. Koch and his spouse, Julia, had their names on the invitation. Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman’s pals on the archdiocese are blissful. Ms. Versace’s garments are prominently featured within the galleries.

The funding value lower than 1 p.c of his 2017 earnings.

Jacob Bernstein is a reporter for the Kinds desk. Along with writing profiles of vogue designers, artists and celebrities, he has targeted a lot of his consideration on L.G.B.T. points, philanthropy and the world of furnishings design.@bernsteinjacob



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