Evening for the Elite

With an exclusive list of 200 of South Florida’s most influential clientele on hand, one of Manalapan Beach’s most prized estates plays host to a high-impact event jointly sponsored by high-style heavyweights UBS, Premier Estate Properties, Christie’s, and Bentley.

By Benjamin Minkus


 Bennett and Liguori co-created the event as an amalgamation of the big names in art, automobiles, homes, and finance to create “a high-impact event for our customers,” as Bennett put it.

There is the 2008 line of Bentley automobiles. Oh, and the keynote speech by the chief U.S. economist for the world’s largest financial investment firm. Did we mention that there’s also $60 million worth of artwork, including Picasso and Monet? And, oh yes, the $36.95 million oceanfront-to-Intracoastal estate.

No, this is not just any ordinary night. Quite the contrary. The January 23 event, held on the lush barrier island of Manalapan Beach, plays host to “the crème de la crème” of clientele, according to Joe Liguori, co-owner of and broker for Premier Estate Properties, which exclusively represents million-dollar homes from Fort Lauderdale to Manalapan. Liguori, whose boutique company has outsold its nearest competitor-despite being outmanned by nearly 62 times the sales force (around 1,500 brokers compared with Premier Estate Properties’ 24 agents)-by $50 million for the 2007 year, is well-versed in high-end style.

And Liguori is not alone. He is joined by UBS’ Robert Bennett, senior vice president of investments and senior portfolio manager of the Bennett Group, who also brings a lofty résumé. In the January 2007 issue of Euromoney magazine, UBS topped the 2007 Private Banking Poll for the fourth consecutive year and was named “best private bank” in the global market in each of the 14 categories used to calculate the results. In fact, UBS came in first in 34 of the 37 regional (Western Europe, North America, Asia, Caribbean, and Latin America) calculations.

But this was not just a blockbuster pairing.

Bennett and Liguori co-created the event as an amalgamation of the big names in art, automobiles, homes, and finance to create “a high-impact event for our customers,” as Bennett put it. In fact, “high impact” is a phrase Bennett uses often when referring to this ultra-luxe gathering. There is a deep sense of pride as Bennett describes this titan-laden evening.

“Joe Liguori and I created the event-I came up with the idea of trying to get the highest-quality brands together to work on a joint venture, a high-impact event. So we have UBS, which we believe is the premier wealth advisor in the world, we have Rolls-Royce/Bentley, my friends over at Braman Motorcars in West Palm Beach, and then Joe Liguori’s team is an outstanding high-end real estate brokerage team, I think the best in Palm Beach County-they really dominate the market. He had the good thought of bringing in Christie’s [auction house], which is associated with his firm. They’re having a global tour with some of their most exclusive pieces of art from their London offices. They were displaying them in Palm Beach, so we arranged for them to come over. We think we have a really special, high-impact event for UBS clients and other high net-worth individuals.”

The home itself, the crown jewel of the evening, is a masterpiece in and of itself. “Replete with Old World opulence and resort-style luxuries,” according to the Premier Estate Properties listing, the Manalapan Beach mansion, at 820 South Ocean Boulevard, is nestled between the ritzy communities of Palm Beach and Boca Raton, on a unique property that spans more than 225 feet of beachfront and protected waterway dockage. Designed by the Tri Gran Group and furnished by Lesly Maxwell, this estate is centered on a 24,500-square-foot, three-story palazzo, which comprises nine bedrooms, 11 full baths, three half baths, three laundry rooms, a six-car garage, a private guest house, and several loggias. Constructed with 13-foot high pecky cypress ceilings and appointed with rare marble and hardwoods throughout, there is nothing that this magnificent estate lacks-it is truly the ideal venue for an equally unique and upscale event. And make no mistake: The guests on hand will be of the highest caliber.

Liguori offers some of the particulars-and after hearing the list of amenities and high-end products on display, there’s no wonder why Liguori says the list comprises individuals who “won’t be your typical millionaire.” Bennett adds: “These are ultra-high net-worth individuals, very sophisticated, very intelligent businessmen and businesswomen, who we want to invite for an entertaining evening and an evening to learn something new.” Beginning with the Bentleys (“we’ll have Bentley of Palm Beach, they’ll have their 2008 collection there, with at least six cars there,” Liguori beams,) to the art offerings from Christie’s (“one being a Picasso that is estimated at around $8 million,”) and, finally, top-notch service (“we’re going to have a collection of imported wines, a musical ensemble, and, of course, valet parking,”) Liguori punctuates his description with: “It’s going to be a great evening.” An understatement, indeed.

The whole evening will be topped off by a keynote speech by UBS chief U.S. economist Thomas Berner, one of the most respected minds on the world’s current financial situation.

“I also like these events to be a learning session, so people can learn something new,” Bennett says. “So I arranged for the chief U.S. economist for UBS, Thomas Berner, to fly down from our U.S. headquarters in New York City, to make a presentation on current global capital markets. Our clients and others will be interested to see what the current global market conditions are, particularly in this highly volatile market and this recent sell-off in the last quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. I think people will be interested in hearing Thomas Berner’s analysis. So this is putting the different pieces together, and having the synergy to put together a high-impact event for our customers.”

There’s that phrase again-“high impact”-and with good reason. No doubt Bennett and Liguori surpassed even their lofty expectations with this sumptuously exquisite event.