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Crashing the Wall Street parties, WikiLeaks-style

Toasting with champagne

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: For a lot of companies, the lingering effect of a shaky economy means this year is going to be another round of cheese cubes and fruit punch at the company holiday party. Not so on Wall Street. After keeping their holidays low-key for the past couple of years, the big bank extravaganzas are back where they were in boom-time territory. The parties are still pretty hush-hush though. Or, they were until now.

A huge stack of confidential emails is about to be released by a sister organization of WikiLeaks called "WallStreetWikiLeaks." Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman got an advanced look.


Mitchell Hartman: WallStreetWikiLeaks won't reveal the source of this huge electronic data trove detailing how top financial firms plan to celebrate the recovery -- of themselves. But Marketplace has gotten an advance look at confidential correspondence between event planners and a firm we'll call Sackman Golds. We've used actors to reenact the conversations.

Male: So here's an email. To: Planner-Jan. The subject: Christmas Blowout. And it reads: 'For the party venue, keep it arm's length from firm. Check out foreclosed penthouse at 946 Fifth Ave. -- hedge fund guy lost his skybox on Lehman CDOs. It's 10,000 square, marble floors, some statues -- mostly kitsch -- but there's a nice Rodin.'

Female: And the reply: 'How 'bout we decorate in Cayman Islands tropical -- palms, orchids. Put a putting green on the deck, call it 'green office improvement.' It's a tax deduction -- LOL.'

The purloined emails also indicate just how far some firms will go to keep their over-the-top festivities under wraps.

Male: From: Office Admin Re: Party invites 'Send time, date, GPS for party location by encrypted email only to top-dollar equity guys. Compliance guys don't make, they don't get to take -- set 'em up at T.G.I.Fridays with the SEC drudges. And no party signage in the building. We don't want that pay czar Feinberg nosing around and crashing the party.'

Female: Reply From: Planner-Jan 'Speaking of noses, the champagne was a bit off last year. Suggest Krug Cuve d'Ambonnay '95. With the Euro sucking wind, it's a steal at $2,000 a bottle.'

Male: 'And the caviar -- make it Black Sea Russian, the real thing this time. Import through Dubai if necessary.'

Marketplace also got hold of a leaked invitation to an exclusive party of a top New York hedge fund. It's being held right now in the vault of a brand-name investment bank.

Hartman: I'm at the door, I key in the secret code -- it's the close of the Dow -- 1-1-3-8-4. Oh, they made some money today. And we're in.

Party noises: Hey, Roger, what's happenin'? Thanks, I'll have one of those. Carlotta, good to see you again.


Ryssdal: All right, full disclosure here: there is no WallStreetWikiLeaks. That we know of.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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