Memberships That Even Money Can’t Buy

  • Looking for the perfect gift for the socialite who has everything? As a famous woman once sang, “Money can’t buy you class,” and in New York, that still might apply to the social club set. We called around to the most elite clubs in the city to find out if it would be possible to give the “gift” of exclusivity.

  • Official line on gifting: "Since we are a private club, during the holiday season, we only allow current members to purchase a gift membership for their spouse/partners.

    All other potential members must go through the membership process. i.e., schedule an appointment with the director of membership to meet in person, complete an application, and then the application is submitted to our membership committee to review. "

    Membership dues: Annual membership of $1,000 and annual dues of $750.

    What that gets you: Not even a gym, apparently. But creative types don't need to work out.

  • Official line: They're going to have to get back to us.

    Membership dues:

  • Official line: No response. (We're taking that as a no.)

    Membership dues: Unknown.

    What that gets you: Bad associations with The Garrick.

  • Official line: "Gifting an Explorers Club membership could potentially be done on an associate membership level, as this form of membership does not require experience in field exploration or scientific research and so could more easily be gifted to a third party. Additionally, applying on the associate level comes with the opportunity to update to full member or fellow status depending on the applicant's experience in exploration. An easier alternative would be to gift a subscription to our publication, The Explorers Journal, which is sent quarterly to our members."

    Membership dues: The initiation fees and annual dues range from $35 to $1,000.

    What that gets you: Rubbing elbows with world travelers, kick-ass meals, lots of taxidermy.

  • Official line: "The answer is both yes and no, and we need to be very clear of the difference, please. In some instances, spouses/lovers/agents, etc., have submitted applications on behalf of people who are unaware of the application. If the person for whom membership is being sought gets approved at a committee meeting, we'll let the spouse/lover/agent, etc., know, make up a card and packet and let them go crazy.

    What doesn't happen and can't happen is that we get a call from someone saying they'd like to buy a membership and just give it away to a random person. Hence the 'yes'—it has happened—and the 'no': Don't put us on a Awesome Things to Buy for Christmas list."

    Membership dues: $250 registration, then $1,800 for "local club" access, $2,400 for access to all the locations.

    What that gets you: Club room, screening room, a place to stay in major destination cities, drawing room, pantry, library, rooftop pools and Cowshed products, and one location even posts of an indoor bowling alley.

  • Official line: "No, there's no way."

    Membership dues: $5,000 annually.

    What that gets you: Hobnobbing with New York's oldest and richest dudes, backgammon, squash, 100,000 cigars, five dining rooms, card room and no girlz.

  • Official line: "It isn't possible to gift a membership due to the strict criteria on membership, etc." However, they did offer a consolation prize: a luxe package from the Institute of Skinovation at Core. "You don't have to be a member for that." (Photos by Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com, Courtesy of John Doe Communications)

    Membership dues: $15,000 in annual dues, and a one-time $50,000 initiation fee.

    What that gets you: $22 Kobe beef sliders and $36 plate of lobster salad.