Dispatches from a parallel universe: On December 8, nine hedge fund bankers celebrated Christmas in a London club and spent a cool $110,000. The tab included six magnums of Dom Perignon Rosé, 24 six-liter bottles of Ciroc Vodka, numerous bottles of coconut rum, and assorted Heinekens, Fiji waters and packs of cigarettes. They exceeded the recommended gratuity guidelines and left a tip of 10,000 British pounds, or $15,546 at Friday’s rate of exchange.
This is certainly not a bad night’s work, but it pales compared to the party thrown by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to commemorate winning the NBA Championship in June. The bash was thrown at Miami’s one and only Fontainebleu Hotel, and featured a 15-liter bottle of the Ace of Spades, an ultra-rare Champagne made by Armand de Brignac. Cuban tipped the staff $20,000 on the way out.
Cuban’s generosity may or may not be the world record in the gratuity sweepstakes. That benchmark was supposedly recorded in May at a Las Vegas ultralounge, when a party spent over $189,000, including a tip of $29,581.20. That mandatory 20% can be a killer, particularly when the group is consuming $25,000 bottles of Champagne with abandon.
What is it about these stories of unbridled excess that captures our imagination? It’s certainly not a desire to emulate these high rollers, at least not on my part—you need at least 20 people to quaff over $100K worth of Champagne, and I don’t have that many friends. On top of that you have to stay up all night, which doesn’t feel great the next day regardless of how much Ace of Spades you consume.
The real attraction of these tales lies in the possibility that the economic malaise of the past three or four years might actually be drawing to a close. Most of us are simply sick and tired of thinking twice about our next indulgence. Deep within our souls, the primal scream wells up—Laissez les bon temps rouler, particularly if you’re toiling at the Fontainebleu or working the overnight shift in Vegas.