Now that the economy has rebounded—for people who make their living on Wall Street, at least!—and big bonuses have returned, how are residents of fancy schmancy Greenwich faring? Life is "slowly returning to normal," apparently. "The Greenwich version of normal, anyway," which means people are once again turning up to the local Ferrari dealership:
Here's a question for you: How much do you think this brand new garbage bin is costing the town of Greenwich? If you guessed $675, you've probably been to Beverly Hills recently, since that's one of the only other places that has purchased the "hunter green and gold-lettered" receptacle. The total tab for the 34 new bins is going to come out to about $25,000; the good news is that an anonymous donor has stepped in to cover the costs. And Greenwich will be now cleaner than ever. Which is great to hear because as we all know—and as one local official points out—"it's important to have the proper receptacles so that the trash hits the bin and not the sidewalk." [GT]
Not only have House lawmakers proposed blowing half a billion dollars of taxpayer money on eight new jets to ferry them around the world—the same taxpayer money that auto companies and banks were scolded for spending on their own corporate jets a few months ago, of course—now it turns out that the government is probably significantly overpaying for the planes, too. [WSJ]
A "luxury fair" designed to appeal to the world's richest people took place in Sardinia this past weekend. But if you were thinking the economic downturn would have put a damper on things, well, think again. Thirty bottles of "Exousia Gold Luxury Water," which is describede as a "gold petal designer label mineral water" and costs $2,800 a pop, were sold over the course of two evenings. And the water still isn't good enough to drink as is, apparently. "A spokeswoman for Exousia said sales were mainly to Russians, who 'like to use it to make tea.'" [DJ/Wealth Bulletin]
Today, the New York Times reminds us that some members of the filthy rich continue to be filthy rich, recession notwithstanding. They're just hiding their spending places where regular people can't see it: in their homes. Designer Clive Christian's extremely high-end wares—think over-the-top chandeliers and the sort of Liberace-inspired designs that would appeal to someone like Celine Dion—are selling better than ever.
How much does it cost to take the sting out of commuting around New York? $144,014. That's how much Senator Chuck Schumer spent between October 2008 and March 2009 on travel, more than any Senator but one. (Republican John Cornyn of Texas spent more, after dragging 59 of his staffers to a retreat in St. Michaels, Maryland). According to Politico.com, Schumer took 25 chartered flights to various locations around New York State, most within 30 minutes of an international airport, at $1,000 to $7,000 a trip, running up a travel tab that's ten times more than some of his colleagues.
So you've probably been hearing that the recession has eased a bit, and there are signs the U.S. economy is finally turning the corner. Fewer people are losing their jobs! The stock market had its best April in years! People are spending money again! We have absolutely no idea if this is true or it's all part of some plot by Ben Bernanke to use the power of positive thinking to improve the economic outlook—and if that's the case, we're really screwed—but here's a sign that our darkest days are behind us: Someone actually spent $6 million buying the first-ever Hermès-designed helicopter (or "l'Hélicoptère par Hermès," as they like to refer to it). Okay, so the buyer is in Abu Dhabi and "signature Hermès orange accents" and "natural-grained Hermès calf leather upholstery" never really goes out of style there, but still! We're totally taking this as a positive sign regardless. [Luxist]
We're in the middle of a recession, have you heard? If you're like most people and you're looking for ways to keep your budget in check, here are 10 items that hit the market recently that you should probably scratch off your shopping list. At least until the economy turns around or you win the lottery or something.
Like most hedge fund moguls, Steve Cohen hasn't been having a very good run recently. (His flagship fund is reportedly down 18 percent so far this year.) But that isn't stopping the billionaire from making some home improvements: The proud owner of one of the most over-the-top estates in America is now looking to make his mansion even bigger. Last night, an application by Cohen and his wife, Alexandra, was put before the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission. The couple is seeking permission to add another 1,145 square feet to their already-massive 35,000-square-foot Crown Lane home. There's no word just yet as to whether the request was approved. There's also no word on what exactly the Cohens plan to use the additional space for, especially since the estate already has a basketball court, indoor pool, 6,734-square-foot ice skating rink (along with a separate structure to house the Zamboni), and about half a billion dollars in art scattered in every direction. A few photos of Cohen's estate are located here.
Steve Schwarzman's 60th birthday party last year may go down as the last, great party before the fall. Days after closing on what was then the biggest leveraged buyout in history, the $39 billion purchase of Equity Office Properties, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group invited 500 people to the Armory on Park Avenue for a party that cost an estimated $3 million. A very long list of notables turned up—Donald Trump, Barbara Walters, Barry Diller, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon—as did many of the people who have now become poster boys for the global financial crisis, like former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal, ex-Bear Stearns chief Jimmy Cayne. Rod Stewart was paid $1 million to perform for the assembled guests; Patti LaBelle sang "Happy Birthday." And the room was designed to replicate Schwarzman's $40 million co-op at 740 Park Avenue. So does Schwarzman have any regrets now the economy has crumbled and he was depicted as a real-life Gordon Gekko in the relentless press coverage that followed?
Just in case the reports of Wall Streeters not making millions this year has softened your resentment of ostentatious master-of-the-universe types and their role in the recession, a profile of London hedge fund manager "Mark" will ensure that any sympathy you might have had vanishes instantly. Meet the bespoke suit-wearing, modern art-buying, A-list-schmoozing thirty-something who's only worth £30 mil. and now has to figure out how to achieve his plan of earning £50 mil. more by 2010. [Independent]