Saul Steinberg, 1988-89
Saul Steinberg, 1988-89
In 1988, Saul Steinberg's last lavish displays of the `80s weren't both birthday parties, but they set the standard for what was to come. First, he hosted a $3 million wedding party for his daughter at the Temple of Dendur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1988, complete with Brazilian band on stilts and snow blowers to blow thousands of feathers into the air. The next year, his wife would throw him a lavish 50th birthday in the Hamptons village of Quogue. That party featured a tent as seventeenth-century Flemish pub to correspond with Steinberg's well-known old masters art collection (which he would later have to sell off for $50 million). Costumed actors played out scenes from the paintings while others danced, played heralds or posed as mermaids. Identical twin mermaids, even.

Steinberg's `80s bashes are remembered as the last of the `80s excess. Such decadence isn't found to the same degree at parties today, says Michael Marto, president and CEO of Executive Visions, which produces star concerts for the rich and famous. Marto's worked with many top-flight artists on billionaire bashes. (He can't cite specifics due to privacy.) The topper from Steinberg's era of open opulence? Saudi tycoon Adnan Khashoggi's multi-day bash in Monaco in 1980, which cost a stunning $20 million at the time.


Last updated August 29 2011: 8:49 AM ET