Excerpted from The Weekend That Changed Wall Street. Published by Portfolio Penguin. Copyright Maria Bartiromo, 2010.
By Maria Bartiromo December 2006 Steve and Christine Schwarzman's annual holiday party was legendary, and normally I wasn't on the guest list. But this year was different. I ended up being invited not because of my professional relationship with Steve, chairman of the Blackstone Group, but because of my connection to his apartment, 740 Park Avenue. The previous owner, Saul Steinberg, is my father-in-law. Saul had purchased the twenty-thousand-square-foot apartment from the estate of John D. Rockefeller in 1971, for well under $300,000, and it had been his home for thirty years. My husband, Jonathan, spent much of his childhood at the Park Avenue apartment, and we held our engagement party there shortly before the sale to the Schwarzmans.
A couple of Bond girls slid over to us, and suddenly a photographer appeared. "Take your picture?" he asked. Fuld jumped up in alarm. "I'm not getting my picture taken with any Bond girls," he barked, and took off. Cayne laughed and shrugged. He didn't mind. Nothing could touch him--or so he thought. In retrospect, the Bond theme was an interesting commentary on the era. Schwarzman might well have imagined himself as the 007 of Wall Street, smoothly sailing above the troubles that afflicted others. He appeared to enjoy playing the sophisticated man's man; the male ideal; a magnet for power, money, and women for whom danger and intrigue were all in a day's work. Schwarzman was the envy of his peers, but he and they might have paused to consider that in 2006 the primary characteristic of James Bond was that he was an anachronism, and those who aspired to walk in his shoes were perhaps headed in the wrong direction. Having just been to the Schwarzman apartment, I noticed right away that the Armory was decorated as a replica of their living room. Everything was absolute perfection, as one would expect of a party with such a hefty price tag. Schwarzman's favorite entertainer, Rod Stewart, performed. (I'm told his fee was $1 million.) Patti LaBelle sang "Happy Birthday." It was yet another lavish, over-the-top celebration of capitalism, paying homage to the new captains of finance. Life was good.