Excesses of the Rich and Wealthy William Collins Whitney

About the excesses of the rich William Collins Whitney, biography and history of his extravagent spending.



William C. Whitney, an American multimillionaire, threw the first gala party after the Bradley-Martin ball to cause a flurry in New York society. He bought a brownstone at 871 Fifth Avenue and proceeded to furnish it in the fashionable manner of the time-by going on a four year tour of Europe and scouring it for such things as furniture, stained-glass windows, and fireplaces. But he did the average palace-ransacker one better; he imported an entire ballroom from Bordeaux to 871 Fifth Avenue. The room was 63 ft. long and 45 ft. wide and cost $50,000 for the transatlantic shipping. The 500 guests who attended the coming-out party for the ballroom drank 1,200 bottles of vintage champagne. In fact, a fountain gushing the finest champagne became the trademark of Whitney's parties. An excellent host, he retained a domestic staff capable of serving 100 guests at an hour's notice. At one of Whitney's dinners, which cost $20,000, each guest discovered a precious black pearl in one of his or her oysters.

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