The Biggest, Richest Party Ever

The Wall Street Journal

The developed world is struggling to emerge from recession and high unemployment. Inequality is soaring around the globe. Many countries are grappling with record deficits and spending cuts.

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What better time for the wealthy to throw a party? And not just any party. The biggest, richest party ever!

A London-based group of hedge-fund managers is planning The Global Party, a 24-hour blow-out for 80,000 of their closest friends on Sept. 15, 2011. Their aim is to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest party ever.

It's inspired by Phileas Fogg, the protagonist in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." As such, the Global Party will be held at more than 80 venues around the world, from Amsterdam to Rio to New York and Dubai and Shanghai. Or as the party's website puts it:

80,000+ OF THE WORLD'S ELITE ...
80+ OF THE WORLD'S FINEST LOCATIONS ...
ALL WITHIN 24 HOURS ...

Among those expected to attend are Liz Hurley, Uma Thurman and Simon Cowell. A table is reported to cost 100,000 pounds ($159,000 dollars). (Click here for a list of venues, sponsors and flashy pre-party pics). The invitation includes a special edition Key-2 Luxury silver key ring, which gives the holder "access to thousands of personal contacts and exclusive VIP privileges for life, and is not available to purchase by the general public."

Before we get all judgmental, let's be clear that this is all for charity. The money -- an expected 5 million to 10 million pounds ($7.96 million to $15.9 million dollars) -- will go to the charity ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), founded by hedge-fund manager Arpad "Arki" Busson (aka "Mr. Uma Thurman").

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'If you have to ask, you're not invited.'

The hosts include Mr. Busson, entrepreneur Tom Singh, a Pakistani prince, and Stanley Fink, the hedge funder and Tory Party treasurer.

Mr. Fink told the Times of London that such parties are ultimately altruistic.

"Yes, to the average man in the street they do look obscene but they do an incredible amount of good."

He said that when he threw a big bash last year for his wife's birthday, "Somebody said to me, 'Are you sure you should be throwing a party in the middle of a recession?' And I said, 'This party will give employment to several dozen people and if people like me who have been prudent during the good times don't start spending now in the bad times, what hope has the country got?'"

[Photos: Stars on the Red Carpet]

Mr. Fink is right, to a point. The money raised and the employment the party generates will no doubt provide help to those who need it. But is the Global Party the most efficient or best way to raise money for charity? The Red Cross last year raised $32 million through online giving, without the black-ties and caviar boats and pop stars.

That's not to mention the negative press that's sure to follow such a grand and global display of wealth in the midst of economic hardship.

But perhaps some people need a bit of glamor and ego-stroking to separate them from their wallets.

Do you think the Global Party is a good way to raise charity money?

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