Julie Chen, co-anchor of the CBS Early Show and the wife of CBS honcho Les Moonves turns 40 today. Henry Kravis, the billionaire financier and co-founder of the private equity giant KKR, is turning 66. Film director John Singleton is 42. British food writer/TV personality Nigella Lawson is 50. Novelist E.L. Doctorow turns 79. Trudie Styler, Sting's wife, is turning 56. Former volleyball great Gabrielle Reece is 40. Rowan Atkinson (aka "Mr. Bean") turns 55. Actress Joey Lauren Adams turns 42. George Ross, Donald Trump's sidekick on The Apprentice, is 82. And reality star Tiffany Pollard, best known as "New York" to regular VH1 viewers, is turning 28 today.
The downtown Armory played host to the 37th annual Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards last night. A big bunch of celebs and designerswere on hand as Marc Jacobs was inducted into the foundation's Hall of Fame, including fellow award winners like Diddy and Paris, as well as Queen Latifah, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, Dustin Hoffman and Lisa Gottsegen, Hilary Rhoda, Kendu Isaacs and Mary J. Blige, Kathy and Rick Hilton, Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, Harry and Laura Slatkin, John Demsey, Linda Wells, Doug Reinhardt, Tracy Reece, Nacho and Delfina Figueras, Kate Walsh, Samantha Harris, Tova and Ernest Borgnine, and Jacobs's fiancé, Lorenzo Martone. [PMc, WWD, Vogue UK, VF, NYO, Wireimage]
• Bank of America sold off a $7.3 billion stake in China Construction Bank as it seeks to raise cash. Good news: only $26.6 billion to go! [DB]
• Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce that Hank Morris has pleaded guilty in the pension fund probe and will be cooperating with the investigation. [WSJ]
• Citigroup has lent out the same amount it's taken from Washington ($45 billion), a sign that Vikram may have a heart, after all. [AP, Dealbreaker]
• AIG's Ed Liddy will defend his company's rep in front of a Congressional panel today. At the very least, he can report the busted insurance giant is $1.2 billion richer now that it's sold off its Tokyo headquarters. [WSJ, DB]
• Andrew Cuomo reports that 15 of the top 20 recipients of the $165 million in AIG bonuses have agreed to give back the cash. As for the other five, Cuomo is still "thinking about" releasing their names. Hint, hint. [NYT]
• Tim Geithner will call for the Treasury to be granted the power to seize troubled financial firms when he goes before a Congressional panel today. [DB]
• More trouble for AIG: The IRS is looking into cushy tax deals that were structured by the same unit that collected those millions in bonuses. [WSJ]
• Goldman Sachs plans to give back its bailout money in the next month. [DB]
• More on the programs unveiled by Tim Geithner yesterday, which created plenty of enthusiasm on Wall Street and sent the Dow up 7 percent. [NYT]
• The trustee overseeing the Madoff mess says he found an additional $75 million laying around, so there's some good news for you. [NYT]
• What a difference a year makes: "The best-performing deal of billionaire Henry Kravis's empire is a deep-discount retailer selling $1 dog treats and $2 bleach to lower-income shoppers." [WSJ]
• Andrew Cuomo may demand the return of $4 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch just before it was acquired by Bank of America. [BN]
• U.S. GDP shrank 3.8% in the fourth quarter, the most since 1982. [BN, NYT]
• Two senators have introduced legislation to regulate hedge funds. [NYT]
• A handful of ex-Merrill execs were victims of Bernie Madoff. [WSJ]
• More layoffs at Morgan and Goldman are in the works. [Dealbreaker]
• A silver lining to the recession (at least for non-lawyers): Corporate firms are dropping rates and looking at "alternative billing practices." [NYT]
• "Private equity is not dead," says Henry Kravis. Glad to hear it! [DB]
Legendary financier Henry Kravis turns 65 today. This means he can now begin collecting full social security benefits, which he may very well need at the rate he's going. Also celebrating: Julie Chen, the Early Show co-anchor and wife of CBS chief Les Moonves, is 39. Director John Singleton is turning 41. British food critic/TV host Nigella Lawson is 49. Novelist E.L. Doctorow is 78. Trudie Styler, the wife of Sting, is 55. Actress Joey Lauren Adams is turning 41. And volleyball star-turned-model Gabrielle Reece is 39.
The list of election '08 losers is a long one: There's John McCain, of course, who will die angry and bitter, notwithstanding his rather gracious concession speech last night. Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief strategist, will probably have trouble finding a Little League team to advise, unless he manages to redeem himself somehow. From Republicans on the Hill to GOP strategists to snowmobile and hunting enthusiasts, plenty of people will feel the cold wind of electoral defeat for a long time to come. After the jump, a roundup of New York City's nine biggest losers.
Unsurprisingly, there aren't so many people wanting to invest millions in pretty (or not so pretty) pictures at the moment: At Sotheby's Impressionist and modern art auction last night, only 64 percent of the lots sold. Still, it's not quite time to get the violins out: The overall tally was $223.8 million, which included $37 million for Henry Kravis's Edgar Degas ballerina pastel and $60 million for a Kazimir Malevich painting. [Bloomberg, Reuters, previously]
♦ Treasury officials say as many as 1,800 institutions may apply for government investments in the next few weeks. [WSJ]
♦ GM hasn't been so lucky extracting cash: The Treasury has turned down a request by the automaker for $10 billion to help finance a merger with Chrysler. [NYT]
♦ Henry Kravis's KKR is delaying its plan to go public on the NYSE until 2009. [CNNMoney]
Now is not a good time to be in the auction business, especially if your business involved selling overpriced items to people who have just lost all their money in the market. Sales were extremely slow at Sotheby's "Exceptional Wines" auction on Tuesday night: Only 70 percent of the 190 lots were ultimately auctioned off, bringing in $2.2 million, a far cry from the $5.1 million the auction house had been hoping for. Sotheby's isn't alone, of course: Business has been dismal at nearly every major auction from London to New York in recent weeks. But organizers for next week's Impressionist and Modern art sale at Sotheby's are already bracing for the worst, especially after one of the auction's priciest pieces was unexpectedly withdrawn by its owner. Now they just have to hope Henry Kravis doesn't pull out, too. He's planning to unload his Degas pastel of a seated ballerina, and is hoping for as much as $40 million for the work (he paid $28 million for it in 1999), and we all know that financiers need every penny they can get these days.
Heart congrats to Henry Kravis: The billionaire financier unveiled a new website for his private equity giant today. The site is still missing glossy headshots of Kravis himself (and, sadly, he has not yet followed Carl Icahn's lead and started a blog), although the site does now sport slick Chinese and Japanese versions, a useful reminder of just who's keeping the American economy afloat these days. [Dealbook]
♦ It was the Metropolitan Opera's 125th opening night on Monday and so naturally a long list of recognizable faces trooped out for the occasion. In floor-length gowns and tuxes to walk the red carpet and watch Renée Fleming: Barbara Walters, Howard Stringer, Michael Bloomberg, Helen Mirren, Christie Brinkley, Faye Dunaway, Molly Sims, Taylor Momsen, Martha Stewart, Hilary and Bryant Gumbel, Henry Kravis, Mercedes Bass, Ann Ziff, Georgina Chapman (left), Helena Christensen, Jane Fonda, John Lithgow, Juliana Margulies, Joy and Regis Philbin, John Turturro, Parker Posey, Peggy Siegal, Ellen and Chuck Scarborough, Deborah Norville, Julie Macklowe, and Tory Burch. [Park Ave Peerage, NYSun, Wireimage, PMc]
Billionaire moguls Steve Schwarzman and Henry Kravis have never liked each other much. The private equity kingpins have competed for years for deals and priceless works of art; last year, they exchanged barbs in the press when Kravis called Schwarzman "the poster boy for greed" and Schwarzman referred to Kravis as a "one-trick pony." Well, you'll be happy to hear that the two men have reconciled. Sort of. A couple of weeks ago, they bumped into each other at the synchronized diving event at the Olympics in Beijing and peace was made. From the lengthy Times profile of Kravis yesterday: "For a brief moment, there was an awkward pause as the longtime rivals took stock of each other. Then both men cracked smiles, and Mr. Schwarzman extended his hand, congratulating Mr. Kravis on his latest move: an attempt to take KKR public despite a stock market mired in uncertainty and fear." Relations between egotistical moguls improving: now there's one positive effect of the recession you probably didn't count on.
Vanity Fair's perplexing list of the "New Establishment," that collection of people who aren't remotely "new" but certainly represent the establishment, is now online! The usual suspects (and Graydon Carter pals) continue to dominate (Barry Diller, Ron Perelman, Steven Spielberg), but there have been a few changes, too. The love affair with private equity moguls and hedge fund titans has clearly subsided: Both Eddie Lampert and Steve Schwarzman have been booted from the list, Henry Kravis went from 51 to 77, and SAC Capital founder Steve Cohen fell from 45th place to next-to-last on the list. And Harvey Weinstein's inability to generate hits at the box office has resulted in a precipitous fall from 41 to 87, which will undoubtedly make for an uncomfortable moment the next time Graydon bumps into Harvey at the Waverly Inn.