Lady Rothschild invites billionaire elites to exclusive headhunting party for Tony Blair

Daily Mail | Mar 5, 2007 


The event is being arranged by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who hosts influential gatherings for London’s elite. Those invited include at least seven billionaires with a combined wealth of more than £25billion.

Tony Blair will open the doors of No.10 to a string of American billionaires in his latest attempt to secure his career after Downing Street.

The Prime Minister and his wife Cherie are planning to host a glittering reception at which they will network with big business tycoons.

New York society’s finest are effectively paying more than £13,000 for the chance to meet the Blairs.

But in a sign that the gathering will be a job-hunting opportunity for Mr Blair, the tycoon who hired Bill Clinton after he left office is on the guest list.

Ronald Burkle, the American financier and grocery retailer, appointed the former U.S. President to a multi-million dollar post as an adviser to a private equity fund.

Critics said it was extraordinary that Mr Blair, who is expected to step down by July, appeared to be using his final weeks in Downing Street to secure himself another top job by schmoozing the super-rich.

The event is being held on Saturday June 16 – confirming that the Premier will still be in office then.

It is a further sign that the Blairs could make a fresh start in the U.S. after Downing Street.

There was speculation that the couple could move to New York to be nearer to their son Euan, who is studying for a postgraduate course at Ivy League university Yale.

Mr Blair has said he wants a job “with real purpose” after No 10 – possibly as a Third World ‘tsar’ or an envoy to the Middle East peace process.

President Clinton has managed to combine a well-paid business job with his role as a UN Aids envoy.

The event is being arranged by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who hosts influential gatherings for London’s elite. Those invited include at least seven billionaires with a combined wealth of more than £25billion.

Invitations to Downing Street were given to tycoons willing to donate more than $25,000 (£13,000) to the Tate gallery. Organisers of the event, American Patrons of Tate, which Lady Rothschild chairs, claimed the No 10 evening is part of wider fundraising efforts for the gallery, and that the main event will be a dinner in Manhattan, which will not be attended by the Blairs.

Others invited include Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican who is the world’s third richest man with a fortune of £15billion, the Russian tycoon Len Blavatnik, oil billionaire Sid Bass, and the chief executive of investment bank Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld.

Those contributing to the dinner are also being offered a group portrait by the photographer Annie Leibovitz. The picture will be used to illustrate a Vanity Fair story about the American Patrons of Tate. Tory MP Chris Grayling said: “This is all becoming very unedifying. You can’t help but think the Prime Minister is using his last days in Dowing Street to set up his future career.”

LibDem MP Norman Baker said: “This might be for a good cause, but selling access is ingrained into this Prime Minister, as is his obsession with wealth and celebrity. It’s a long way from the Red Flag.”

Among those likely to be at the June 16 Downing Street reception are:

RONALD BURKLE: Said to be worth $2.3billion (£1.15billion) Financier and supermarket tycoon who gave Bill Clinton a post as adviser to his private equity fund, Yucaipa. Mr Burkle, 53, who lives in silent movie star Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood mansion, made his money by buying and selling supermarkets in California. May want Mr Blair as a prestigious board member for his fund.

CARLOS SLIM HELU: $30billion (£15billion) Helu, 65, is the third richest man in the world and richest in Latin America. He acquired his wealth after buying a controlling stake in Telmex, the Mexican phone company when it was privatised. He is now focusing on his legacy – and may want Blair to help out with his $2.5billion charitable foundation.

LEN BLAVATNIK: $7billion (£3.5billion) Ukraine-born tycoon has oil, metals, media and telecom companies. The U.S. citizen also has a £41million home in Kensington. Made his fortune through investing U.S. money in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. Mr Blair’s influence may be useful in discouraging the Russian government from nationalising oil company TNK-BP, part-owned by Mr Blavatnik.

CALVIN KLEIN: $700million (£350million) Fashion and underwear magnate sold his company in 2003 for around £450million – and is still a business consultant to the firm. Mr Klein, 64, who has admitted battling drink and drugs, is a consummate networker who has partied with all the biggest names in showbiz.

LEONARD AND RONALD LAUDER: $5.6billion (£2.8billion) Leonard, 73, and Ronald, 62, inherited the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire after their mother died. Leonard recently bought a Gustav Klimt painting for £73million.

RICHARD FULD: $1billion (£500million) Chief executive of global investment bank Lehman Brothers. Mr Fuld, 60, was nicknamed ‘digital mind’ for his prodigious intellect as a young trader. Mr Blair may help provide access to the rich individuals that Lehman plans to target as investors.

SID BASS: $1.4billion (£700million) Texan oil tycoon, 63, made his money through his family’s oil and gas business.

VERONICA HEARST: $1.6billion (£800million) Widow of publishing heir Randolph Hearst, who left an estimated fortune of $1.6billion. Mr Blair was guest of honour at a dinner given by Mrs Hearst at her Florida mansion during his Christmas holiday.

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