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    Birthday parties of the rich, famous, and infamous

    Concerts at Carnegie Hall, polo with Britain’s Prince Charles, basketball with star athletes, and a week-long party that featured an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David peeing vodka, are a few of the ways that the rich and famous—and infamous—have celebrated birthdays.

    New York sleepwear designer Josie Natori, for her 50th birthday, invited 2,800 of her closest friends to Carnegie Hall to hear her play Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor.

    James Wolfenshohn, later head of the World Bank but then head of his own investment firm, celebrated his 60th birthday by inviting 500 guests to Carnegie Hall to hear him play the cello, accompanied by such performers as violinists Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman.

    Hollywood film producer Frank Marshall, an amateur magician and guitar player, for his 50th invited 500 friends to watch him perform in the 10,000-seat basketball arena at the University of California in Los Angeles. When New York investment dealer Ethan Penner turned 35, his wife paid basketball stars Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving a reported $35,000 to play in a four-hour basketball game with Mr. Penner and his friends at Iona College, New Rochelle, New York.

    To mark his 50th birthday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, ruler of the tiny island of Brunei and then the world’s richest man, held a concert for his two wives and 60,000 guests, at which the star performer was Michael Jackson. While the wives watched the concert, the Sultan celebrated by playing polo with Britain’s Prince Charles. The game got underway after a helicopter delivered the Sultan’s polo boots from his 1,778-room palace.

    Dennis Kozlowski, then chairman and chief executive officer of Tyco International, spent $2 million of company funds to host a week-long birthday party, with 75 guests, for his wife Karen, on the island of Sardinia. Kozlowski greeted his guests with a promise of “…a fun week, sailing on the Endeavour, tennis, golf, eating, drinking. All the things we are best known for.” The featured birthday party included dancing, a $250,000 performance by singer Jimmy Buffett, a birthday cake in the shape of a women’s body, hoisted by models dressed as gladiators—in addition to the vodka-leaking ice sculpture of David.

    Kozlowski also used Tyco money to furnish his Manhattan apartment with such items as a $6,000 shower curtain, a $15,000 “dog umbrella stand,” two sets of sheet that cost $5,960, and a $2,000 gilt metal wastebasket.

    Two years after the Sardinia party, Kozlowski was convicted of misappropriating $81 million in Tyco funds, and sentenced to a 25-year jail term. His wife divorced him.

    Notes from New York Times, May 11, 1997, and October 28, 2003; USA Today, October 28, 2003; Fort Lauderdale Sun Times, September 18, 2003; Associated Press, July 7, 1996

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