how the rich party and do business

Ron Rosenbaum did some great interviews back in the 1980s. Here’s an excerpt from a lunch interview with Malcolm Forbes.

“We’re in Forbes’s baronial drawing room having drinks and getting into the intricacies of investigative yachting. To hear Forbes tell it, the yachting experience is a powerful investigative tool.

“If you spend all day with a man and his wife on a boat and see their interplay with other CEOs on the boat, you get a gut feeling….”

Every year Forbes targets about 150 CEOs who are ripe for an investigative cruise. In a veritable investigative blitz, invitations go out to up to 25 CEOs for 6 weekend cruises with the Forbes family up the Hudson.

Malcolm’s toy boat collection

Then there’s the wine cellar which is the inner sanctum of investigative lunching at Forbes.

“All four walls are lined from floor to ceiling with racks of ageing bottles in repose. And hung from the ceiling are dozens of silver wine cups with dangerous looking silver antlers projecting from the rims.

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“We bring some CEO here who likes wines. Sometimes we’ll give him a bottle of the year of his birth. The only promise we extract from him is that if he opens it and it’s vinegar, he won’t tell us. We engrave two of these silver wine cups with the date of his visit, then a year later we send him one and keep the other here. The idea is we tell them if their cup is in the wine cellar, anytime they’re in the neighbourhood they’re entitled to come down here and open any bottle of wine they want.”

Forbes Wine Cellar

Forbes chose the Palais Mendoub in the northwestern city of Tangier, Morocco to host his 70th birthday party. Spending an estimated $2.5 million, he chartered a Boeing 747, a DC-8 and a Concorde to fly in eight hundred of the world’s rich and famous from New York and London. The party entertainment was on a grand scale, including 600 drummers, acrobats and dancers and a fantasia (a cavalry charge which ends with the firing of muskets into the air) by 300 Berber horsemen.

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