LET this be a lesson to all those out there who imagine that the good old days of decadence are gone for good.
I hear a bit of a surprise was in store on a recent holiday to Miami for Michael Parnes – the founder of Old Park Lane Capital, the Mayfair-based ultra high net worth-focused stockbroker, and son of Tony Parnes, one of the “Guinness Four”.
Parnes was wandering about the lobby of his hotel, the modern minimalist-chic Mondrian South Beach, at the weekend when he spied a glass wall fronting a tantalising array of goody boxes. On closer inspection, he realised the installation was none other than a sort of luxury vending machine – and promptly began to have a nosy around the goodies on offer, including high-end underwear from Agent Provocateur, a Rolls Royce and even a $1m luxury penthouse on the top floor of the hotel itself.
Yet on swiping his card to find out more details about the prize property, Parnes was unpleasantly shocked to discover that a hefty “non-refundable deposit” had been deducted from his account, despite him having no intention of following through by inputting a PIN number to actually purchase it.
A quick call to the Mondrian by The Capitalist, however, and all has been sorted – the hotel assures me there’s always a “cooling off” period attached to their big-ticket vending machine purchases, and that our good fellow will be reimbursed in full. Crisis averted.
Talk about looking back through rose-tinted specs. The Capitalist was having a browse on the internet yesterday when up came a link to the website for Hedgestock – that wildly extravagant hippy-themed festival for the hedge fund community which took place right at the head of the champagne-fuelled bubble back in 2006.
Strangely enough, the website is still proudly up and running, boasting a nostalgic list of sponsors including Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and singing the praises of the impressive line-up (rock legends The Who were the headline act).
Perhaps organisers Albourne Partners – the owner of the “Albourne Village” web network for hedgies, including a virtual pub where “residents” can go to network, a job centre and a library – are keeping their options open for a rerun once the economy is truly out of the woods?
Fancy supporting fellow City types in their extra-curricular interests? Then how about getting a date in the diary to pop down to the Bridewell Theatre on Fleet Street between 2 and 6 March, to see SEDOS – the old Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society – perform their latest production of Stephen Jeffreys’ The Libertine.
Cast member Karen Lister, from Chartis Insurance, is adamant the effort will be more than worth your while.
“We keep giggling so much in rehearsals – the play is shocking us and we’re the ones performing!” she laughs.
“The Earl of Rochester, the subject of the play, leads a debauched life so there’s plenty of nudity, sex and bad language – we’ll probably have to put an 18 rating on the show.” Saucy.