Milken’s New Predators’ Ball: Billionaires Gather in Florida
Events in Palm Beach and Miami are expected to draw at least two-dozen billionaires including Peter Thiel, as well as Joe Manchin and Serena Williams.By Amanda L Gordon and Benjamin Stupples
(Bloomberg) — Michael Milken turned Los Angeles into a finance powerhouse, gathering dealmakers for his infamous Predators’ Ball and then later pairing policy wonks with big money for his annual conference.
Now he’s headed to the latest power base for U.S. financiers and politicians: South Florida. The income tax-free, palm tree-lined oasis is where New York’s ultra-wealthy have long decamped for the winter, but are increasingly making their permanent home.
The 75-year-old billionaire kicks off the first Milken Institute South Florida Dialogues on Friday, according to an invitation obtained by Bloomberg. The six-day preliminary agenda of island- and mansion-hopping has Ken Griffin talking national security in South Beach, and Sonia and Paul Tudor Jones hosting tennis matches at their oceanfront Palm Beach estate Casa Apava. The format is similar to the dialogues he’s presented in the Hamptons for years.
“It’s very smart if he’s doing it, it would fit because those very same people that he visits with in the Hamptons are probably down in Palm Beach,” said Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital and one-time member of former President Donald Trump’s administration, who doesn’t plan to attend.
Topics to be considered at more than 20 “salons” will include the pandemic, health care and the economy, with Alex Rodriguez joining a session on sports and Serena Williams on venture capital at Joshua Kushner and Karlie Kloss’s house. Peter Thiel will host a panel on “The Mental Health Crisis: Challenges and Solutions Including Psychedelics” with Christian Angermayer. More than two-dozen billionaires are scheduled to attend the intimate gatherings, with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test required.
Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who’s become a pivotal player in the Senate and a key obstacle to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, will appear alongside some of Trump’s friends and former cabinet members. They include former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Blackstone Inc. founder Stephen Schwarzman, former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Trian Partners’s Nelson Peltz, who last year plunked down $23 million for the Palm Beach office building where his firm has a location.
They’ll discuss “New Strategies to Increase Economic and Social Mobility” at the oceanfront estate of Peltz and his wife Claudia. The moderator will be Kerry Murphy Healey, Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts lieutenant governor, who’s now the president of the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, which is scheduled to open across the street from the White House in 2023.
The Milken Institute didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
Milken rose to fame in the 1980s as the “Junk Bond King” of Drexel Burnham Lambert before a securities fraud conviction sent him to prison and banned him for life from the industry. Before his release in 1993, he began spending more time on philanthropy and founded the institute, a think-tank with offices and events around the globe. Trump pardoned him in 2020.
Neither Trump nor Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach home and club, were on the schedule distributed to potential guests last week.
To be sure, the event isn’t exclusively a Republican gathering. Barry Sternlicht, who at one point supported Starbucks Corp. founder Howard Schultz’s run for president, will speak on a panel exploring “live-work-play models in real estate investments,” and former Carter administration staffer and Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder David Rubenstein will discuss philanthropy alongside Schwarzman and Robert Smith of Vista Equity Partners.
In Miami, participants will hop around Venetian and Star islands and can join sessions on Latin America at the Perez Art Museum Miami.
The diversions include a golf tournament at the Grove XXIII, Michael Jordan’s course in Hobe Sound, and John Fogerty performing at the Palm Beach home of casino magnate Steve and Andrea Wynn.
The invitation bills it as a chance to “begin sharpening up” for the 25th Global Conference, which begins May 1 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, with the theme “Celebrating the Power of Connection.”To contact the authors of this story:
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