Stephen Schwarzman, the private-equity king, may have just set a new standard for wealth denial. In a revealing profile by Jim Stewart in the latest New Yorker, Mr. Schwarzman is asked about his recent displays of excess â€” the over-the-top birthday party at the Armory, his $37 million apartment in New York, his tear-down estate in Florida, the $34 million place in the Hamptons and so on. His lifestyle and sudden riches ($8 billion on the day Blackstone went public) turned him into what Mr. Stewart calls â€œthe designated villain of an era on Wall Street.â€ Mr. Stewart asks him how it felt to be the object of so much negative attention. Mr. Schwarzmanâ€™s responds with wealth denial.
"I don't feel like a wealthy person,he says. Other people think of me as a wealthy person, but I don't. I feel the same as when I was a fifth-year associate trying to make partner at Lehman. I haven't changed. I'm always still trying." Maybe this is a case of his self-image lagging his fortune. But people with modest self-images don't usually hold parties in the Park Avenue Armory featuring Rod Stewart, Martin Short and a huge self-portrait.
Message to Mr. Schwarzman: you'e rich. As in Forbes list rich. As in, your grandkids-won't-ever-have-to-work rich.
And being that rich comes with lots of public attention on your actions (and your quotes).