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  1. Wealth
March 1, 2008

New York Special

By Spear's

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town. Or is it just hell? Spear’s investigates in its New York Special.

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg is worried. The global super-rich who regarded Manhattan’s penthouses as their residential headquarters of choice have recently preferred London as their playground. In a special report, Elizabeth Wolff explains how New York has lost its social crown to the allure of Mayfair, Knightsbridge and South Kensington.

But there are signs that ‘The City That Has Fallen Asleep’ – as one UK Sunday paper recently headlined an article written by Anthony Haden-Guest on why he has moved from New York to London – is waking up again. Part of the problem, to our European mindset, is that the social fault-lines of New York have been exclusively economic rather than cultural and social. What so many high net worths like about living in London is the high-life social and cultural mix. In New York, money tends to be regarded as a form of morality, whereas in London it is means to enjoyment.

New York still has the social edge when it comes to nightlife. Whereas London’s cocktail-gurgling and disco-leaning hedge fund managers and City tycoons will inevitably end up at such institutions as Annabel’s, Tramp, or Boujis, New York’s clubs are more transient and financiers have a more challenging task of finding the latest chic haunt. Natasha Faruque compares notes on each city, from lounge clubs to milk bars.

Another area where New York remains ahead of London is in the multi-family office (MFO) industry, a booming wealth-management phenomenon pioneered in New York and growing there at a rate of roughly 20 per cent annually, with Europe catching up fast. Deirdre Brennan charts the rise of these secretive MFOs who are replacing hedge funds as the hot new thing for financially savvy ex-Wall Street boys to be starting up.

Haden-Guest is practically a monument to the special relationship between London and New York. The English native – being an original incarnation of Tom Wolfe’s Mid-Atlantic Man – took up residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in the early 1970s, and has observed the decline of its social world. Some might claim the death in 1998 of Glenn Bernbaum, owner of Mortimer’s restaurant, as the key date foretelling the demise of the Upper East Side.

Others might choose the death of cabaret singer Bobby Short in 2005, for although his shows at the Café Carlyle had long been overrun by out-of-towners, they continued to attract a loyal Park Avenue ancients. Here, Haden-Guest reflects on the Nineties Nylons, and the latest social transfer breed, the M & Ms, equally at home in upper-class Mayfair as in über-cool Manhattan.

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